Sunday, January 25, 2009

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance uses Citizen Action provision of Clean Water Act to take on worst polluters

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance’s Efforts to Stop Pollution in Puget Sound Were Featured on the Front Page of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on January 7, 2009.

Puget Soundkeeper Alliance and Sue Joerger take on the worst polluters in a race against time to save the Sound.

Under a citizen lawsuit provision of the Clean Water Act, Puget Soundkeeper Alliance's litigation has resulted in many cases of marked pollution reduction. There is still a lot of work to be done. Read the article.

In their own words:
Puget Soundkeeper Alliance is an action-oriented team dedicated to a mission: to protect and preserve Puget Sound.

We are committed to a dual approach:
reducing the pollution of Puget Sound by making polluters accountable to the law; and promoting education and cooperation in the effort to protect the Sound.

Fighting pollution on the water and in the courtroom, we carry out our work through four priority programs:
Enforcement of the Clean Water Act against polluters using the citizen lawsuit provision
Monitoring through weekly Soundkeeper on-the-water boat and kayak patrols
Engagement with business, government and other key parties, to build workable regulations on complex issues like storm water runoff permits, boatyard permits, and oil spill contingency rules
Solution-Oriented Partnerships to involve business and government in water quality improvement programs (e.g., Envirostars, Clean Marinas)

The Problem:
"Marine life is disappearing from Puget Sound, and fast" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 9, 2006)"Peter Lang and his buddies like to go diving by Blake Island, just across Puget Sound from West Seattle, where they can scoop up delectable Dungeness crabs. But when they showed up last spring, the lush meadows of eelgrass where crab like to hide were nearly gone..." (more)"Puget Sound Environmental Issues" (Wikipedia)"The environmental health of Puget Sound has a diverse and complex history.

This article discusses many aspects of Puget Sound, Washington, and how this part of the west coast has a long, involved relationship with its marine and freshwater ecosystems..." (more)

Puget Sound struggles against tide of toxins: The Olympian July 7, 2007, by John Dodge
Brief History of Puget Sound Conservation Efforts (Puget Sound Action Team)

Pollution in Puget Sound
Status, Trends and Effects of Toxic Contaminants in the Puget Sound Environment: Recommendations- by EVS Consultants for the Puget Sound Action Team, 2003 (pdf)"Toxic Contaminants in Puget Sound" (John Dohrmann, Technical and Policy Specialist, Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team)

"The industrial history of Puget Sound is only 150 years old. By measuring chemical concentrations from sediment layers in cores, scientists have shown that the concentrations of toxic chemicals in sediments follow the history of discharges..." (pdf)

Historical Pollution: A saga of neglect and unintended consequences Logging and Siltation

The first major impact by Europeans on the Puget Sound environment was through logging. In 1853, Henry Yesler built the first steam driven mill on Puget Sound; by 1883, William Renton noted that nearly all the timber contiguous to Puget Sound had been removed.

Pulp Mills
The first pulp mills in Puget Sound in the 1920's had devastating effects on the shellfish industry in southern Puget Sound. It was said that it was not necessary to use copper-based paint on boats in areas with pulp mill discharges, for nothing would grow there.

Industrial pollution
State permits for wastewater discharges were not required until 1955. Pulp mills and other industrial dischargers began treating their discharges by the early 1960s.

Modern Sources of Pollution

Point Source Pollution
Point source pollution comes mainly from industrial discharges and sewage treatment plants. Though these facilities are required to have permits to discharge into public waters, a very large amount of toxic materials still enter Puget Sound, other waterways, and our state's air. Here is a link to the state's toxic releases, by industry, for 2005, the latest year available (Learn more...)

"Nonpoint source" pollution
Nonpoint source pollution is the polluted runoff from the landscape that runs into Puget Sound after a rainfall. It contains oil and grease, pesticides, industrial chemicals, and many other things that can harm Puget Sound. The Environmental Protection Agency has made nonpoint source pollution a priority. (more...)

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