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Help Us Help Puget Sound!

2009 July 24

image of orca whaleI have lived in Olympia, Washington, for 30 years now and I believe that people here feel we live in the “greenest” part of the country. But is this really true? Wild salmon are rapidly becoming extinct and orca whales living in Puget Sound are some of the most contaminated mammals on the planet.

We are now on the third iteration of a plan to save Puget Sound. The new plan, the Action Agenda, is a significant improvement over past plans – it merges salmon recovery with overall restoration and sets a target date of 2020 for a healthy Puget Sound. It is a great plan – but can we turn the plan into action as the title suggests? We would like your help in answering this question.

Later this summer EPA will send out a formal request for project proposals for about $19 million in federal funds to restore Puget Sound. This money will go to implement the Action Agenda and follow all of our requirements for an open transparent competitive process. The Action Agenda, however, provides a pretty big umbrella to work under and we want to be as strategic as possible. How can we focus this money to have the greatest impact on the restoration of Puget Sound? – or to better understand the problems of Puget Sound for the scientists and researchers out there.

I invite you to become familiar with the problems facing Puget Sound by visiting the Puget Sound Partnership website, and please share your advice. If you are more into videos, check out the Poisoned Waters segment which aired on PBS earlier this year. Help us put our money where our mouth is so that we can indeed become the greenest corner of the country.

About the author: Tom Eaton is EPA Region 10’s Executive Lead for Puget Sound. Originally a Hoosier and a Boilermaker to boot, Tom has 32 years of public sector experience in environmental management working for EPA and the State of Washington.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. Michael Lane permalink
    July 24, 2009

    “orca whales living in Puget Sound are some of the most contaminated mammals on the planet.”

    Could you provide a link to data or cite this? I’d like to see it myself.

  2. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    July 25, 2009

    This is a very important project and sounds like a tough one. PCBs seem to have a role with the whales especially. So a plan like the Action Plan that addresses the different points of toxic waste contamination and does it in an integrated way is critical. There is alot of shipyard activihty here and probably dumps that took what are now hazardous wastes before they were defined as hazardous wastes. Wastes from old dumps that may or may not be in use now has had a chance to leak into water supplies. Another important issue is sewer treatment before discharge into the waters of the Sound not only from city, county, and military treatment plants but also from ships and also pleasure craft discharging the bildge tanks directly into the water that all needs to be looked at. Water runoff from car and truck washes, garages, storage yards, railyards, parking lots, manufacturing facilities is another major question. There is much to do. But with work and bringing together all the players in a unified effort, the Sound can be brought back. The Action Plan will be a huge step forward. Thank you. Michael E. Bailey.

  3. Johnny R. permalink
    July 25, 2009

    The only possible way to save Puget Sound is to peacefully reduce the human population that is destroying it.

  4. Charles Bert, EPA permalink
    July 27, 2009

    Dr. Peter Ross at the Institute of Ocean Sciences in Sydney, B.C., is a leading researcher on this subject. Here’s a link to one of his studies.

    High PCB concentrations in free-ranging Pacific killer whales (scientific paper, PDF):

  5. Michael Lane permalink
    July 28, 2009

    Thank you – that’s both informative and creepy. The actual sourcing for the PCBs (especially at present, 9 years post study) is worrisome. It appears to not be a Puget Sound phenomenon so much as a Pacific one, especially as regards Chinook-carried PCBs. With ocean current patterns what they are, and airborne dispersal, could we be reaping the PCB contaminants of the bulk of Asia, I wonder? If so, how is that particular source of contaminants to be addressed while we work on more local pollution issues?

  6. Sydney Classifieds permalink
    July 26, 2010

    You have to understand the problems of Puget Sound for the scientists that will give lot of trouble to the scientists.

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