By John Mathis ’13
The Island County Marine Resources Committee (MRC) sponsored Creosote Removal workshops on Saturday, October 12 at 9:00 am on Camano Island and at 2:00 pm on Whidbey Island. This workshop reviewed the environmental impact of creosote, creosote debris identification, and how to report creosote to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Chris Robertson, Restoration Manager, Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) divided his presentation between the classroom and a field trip to the beach where participants identified creosote debris.
Creosote comprises more than 300 chemicals. The chemicals of most concern are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). When exposed to the light or sunshine, the chemicals in creosote become more toxic and are more likely to leach from the wood. The chemicals continue to leach for years in our marine and estuarine waters.
There is 100 years of creosote treated infrastructure installed all over Puget Sound. Some of it is still in place, while other sections have broken apart and are floating up on beaches all over the region. It is estimated that there is one gallon of creosote per foot of treated log. This is a significant environmental problem that must be removed one piece at a time.
It is important to know that volunteers are not expected to remove creosote debris. There is small crew of “20 something” trained crew with strong backs and proper equipment to do the heavy lifting and removal.
The role of volunteers is to identify and report creosote found on our beaches and in our estuaries. Creosote is reported to the DNR Creosote Removal Program using the free “MyCoast” application for iPhone and Android devices. It is simple, download the app, take a picture of the suspected creosote debris, answer a few question and click your phone to send the report to the DNR. You can view reports online MyCoast.org.
Since this program began in 2003, more than 27, 900 tons of creosote treated debris have been removed from Puget Sound. According to Chris Robertson, 1,300 tons of material has been removed from Island County.