Troubling report on the use of chemicals in National Refuges

Given the current discussion about allowing large scale aquaculture in the Dungeness Bay National Refuge, it’s worth looking at what’s happening at other refuges across the country. While most of these are land based, it’s not likely that most people assume that pesticides are allowed to be sprayed in wildlife refuges. It points out why the Army Corp. of Engineers needs to do more diligence with the permit applicant before coming to a conclusion about what to do.


For Immediate Release, May, 10, 2018

Contact: Hannah Connor, (202) 681-1676, hconnor@biologicaldiversity.org

Analysis: 490,000 Pounds of Toxic Pesticides Sprayed on National Wildlife Refuges

Pesticide Use on Crops Grown in Refuges Spikes in California, Oregon, Arkansas, Tennessee, Maryland

WASHINGTON— America’s national wildlife refuges are being doused with hundreds of thousands of pounds of dangerous agricultural pesticides every year, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity.

The Center report, No Refuge, reveals that an estimated 490,000 pounds of pesticides were dumped on commodity crops like corn, soybeans and sorghum grown in national wildlife refuges in 2016, the most recent year for which data are available. The analysis was conducted with records obtained by the Center under the Freedom of Information Act.

“These refuges are supposed to be a safe haven for wildlife, but they’re becoming a dumping ground for poisonous pesticides,” said Hannah Connor, a senior attorney at the Center who authored the analysis. “Americans assume these public lands are protected and I think most people would be appalled that so many pesticides are being used to serve private, intensive agricultural operations.”

The pesticides include the highly toxic herbicides dicamba and 2,4-D, which threaten the endangered species and migrating birds that wildlife refuges were created to protect. Refuge pesticide use in 2016 was consistent with pesticide applications on refuges over the previous two years, the Center analysis showed.

America’s 562 national wildlife refuges include forests, wetlands and waterways vital to thousands of species, including more than 280 protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Yet intensive commercial farming has become increasingly common on refuge lands, triggering escalating use of highly toxic pesticides that threaten the long-term health of these sensitive habitats and the wildlife that depend on them.

In 2016 more than 270,000 acres of refuge land were sprayed with pesticides for agricultural purposes. The five national wildlife refuge complexes most reliant on pesticides for agricultural purposes in 2016 were:

  • Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex in California and Oregon, with 236,966 pounds of pesticides;
  • Central Arkansas Refuges Complex in Arkansas, with 48,725 pounds of pesticides;
  • West Tennessee Refuge Complex in Tennessee, with 22,044 pounds of pesticides;
  • Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Tennessee, with 16,615 pounds of pesticides;
  • Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia, with 16,442 pounds of pesticides.

Additional findings from the report:

  • Aerial pesticide spraying: In 2016, 107,342 acres of refuge lands were aerially sprayed with 127,020 pounds of pesticides for agricultural purposes, including approximately 1,328 pounds of the notoriously drift-prone dicamba, which is extremely toxic to fish, amphibians and crustaceans.
  • Glyphosate: In 2016 more than 55,000 agricultural acres in the refuge system were treated with 116,200 pounds of products containing glyphosate, the pesticide that has caused widespread decreases in milkweed plants, helping to trigger an 80 percent decline of the monarch butterfly over the past two decades.
  • 2,4-D: In 2016 more than 12,000 refuge acres were treated with 15,819 pounds of pesticide products containing 2,4-D, known to be toxic to mammals, birds, amphibians, crustaceans, reptiles and fish and is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of endangered and threatened salmonids.
  • Paraquat dichloride: In 2016 more than 3,000 acres of corn and soybean crops on refuge lands were treated, mainly through aerial spraying, with approximately 6,800 pounds of pesticides containing paraquat dichloride, known to be toxic to crustaceans, mammals, fish, amphibians and mollusks and so lethal it is banned in 32 counties, including the European Union.

“These pesticides are profoundly dangerous for plants and animals and have no place being used on such a staggering scale in our wildlife refuges,” Connor said. “The Interior Department needs to put an end to this outrage and return to its mission of protecting imperiled wildlife, not row crops.”

 

No Refuge

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

EVENT:The Battle Against Light Pollution – Thursday, May 17 at 6 PM

The Battle Against Light Pollution will be held on  Thursday, May 17 at 6 PM in the Port Angeles Library Carver Meeting Room, 2210 South Peabody Street.  It is being hosted by the Sierra Club North Olympic Group as part of its free series of public programs.

Come peer through the lens of the International Dark-Sky Association — its efforts to combat light pollution and recognize Dark Sky Preserves.

Explore light pollution causes, effects on wildlife and human health, and its carbon footprint.

Learn some astronomy and about our connection to the night sky.

Hear how to effectively fight and eliminate light pollution.

It’s a fight we can win, if we have the will, say David W. Ingram, Chapter Leader of Dark Skies Northwest (DSNW and John L. Goar, Astronomy Outreach Volunteer for Olympic National Park and member of the International Dark-Sky Association. (IDA)

The IDA is a non-profit organization based in Tucson, AZ.  It is dedicated to preserving the natural nighttime environment by educating policymakers and the public about night sky conservation and promoting environmentally friendly methods to provide minimally intrusive outdoor lighting.

Ingram’s leadership covers Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.  His work as an IDA chapter leader includes education and public outreach presentations and support and empowerment to private citizens, conservation and environmental organizations, schools, local, state and national organizations.

Ingram retired from the Boeing Company after a 34-year career in aviation and space technology.  His personal focus on science, the night sky and amateur astronomy began in Indiana during his high school years in the mid-1960s.  Over the past decades, he has joined numerous astronomy societies and related organizations and now serves as the Boeing Employees’ Astronomical Society President, the Seattle Astronomical Society Vice President of Education, and the IDA/Dark Skies Northwest (DKNW) representative to a number of astronomy societies in the Puget Sound area.  In addition to his IDA chapter leader duties with

DKNW, Ingram provides volunteer time to the summer astronomy program at Glacier National Park in Montana.  Learn more at  <www.darksky.org>

John L. Goar teaches high school science at North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo WA. In addition to being the Astronomy Outreach Volunteer for Olympic National Park, and winning the 2016 George and Helen Hartzog Volunteer National Park Service Award, Goar is an officer of the Olympic Astronomical Society and the Astronomical League (Binocular Messier Program Coordinator and Asteroid Observing Program Coordinator), as well as Secretary of the Olympic Astronomical Society, Bremerton, WA.

Goar is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley.  As a student project, he built a 12.5 inch Dobsonian telescope, and later built a 20 inch diameter mirror scope.  Goar has been an amateur astronomer since 2000, and is passionate about preserving dark night skies.  He has led free public telescope programs at Hurricane Ridge for eight summers, while also leading full moon hikes to Hurricane Hill.

Goar is a certified master observer with the Astronomical League, a confederation of astronomy clubs in the US. Hwas also awarded the Presidential Lifetime Service Award in 2017 by President Barack Obama.

Information and a schedule for summer astronomy programs in 2018 can be found at his website: <www.olympictelescope.com>

David W. Ingram                            John L. Goar

https://sierraclub.org/washington/north-olympic

MEDIA RELEASE

Contact:  Darlene Schanfald

Sierra Club North Olympic Group

360-681-7565

 

 

Mussels on drugs found near Victoria sewage outfalls – CBC

For years, Victorians of all political stripes have been discounting their lack of a sewage system. Every time I’ve put a story up here, a couple of Victorians have, out of the blue, weighed in. I’ve even heard younger Victorians, who claim to be “green” tell me to my face that, “it’s no big deal” that their raw sewage has been pouring into the Strait for decades after every other city on the Strait and Salish Sea seems to have put in tertiary or secondary treatment systems. I rarely ever challenge them when they do that, as it’s pointless to argue with people who refuse to even look at scientific data. Well, the CBC finally looked into it, and the unfortunate joke is on them, as they have likely been poisoning themselves and their children if they have been eating any of the shellfish or bottom feeders from the area around their city.

As stated in the article, the sewage treatment plant *should* remove many of these chemicals. Now it is up to the local environmental departments to get the message out that people should not be dumping their pharmaceuticals and other chemicals down the sink or in the toilet. My hope is that, in some distant time, we will actually stop dumping *all* our wastes into the Straits and Salish Sea. Composting toilets have advanced to a place where we should be able to end the expensive and stupid habit that we have picked up in the last 100 years. While it was an improvement over what came before it, we have paid a price for it. There are no free lunches.

Monitoring by the Capital Regional District has found high concentrations of antidepressants, as well as other pharmaceuticals and personal care products in shellfish near the sewage outfalls around Victoria.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/sewage-victoria-crd-drugs-contamination-mussels-pharmaceuticals-1.4537222?utm_source=Sightline%20Institute&utm_medium=web-email&utm_campaign=Sightline%20News%20Selections

Large crowd hears lawmakers discuss Atlantic Salmon ban plans

A packed house greeted State Senator Kevin Van de Wege and State House representative Mike Chapman in Sequim last night as they updated the community on the current bills to ban non-native Atlantic salmon and possibly put strict limits on net pens in our waters.

Senator Van de Wege along with Senator Ranker and others are supporting Senate Bill 6086, which would essentially immediately move to ban Atlantic salmon and implement retraining of displaced workers, thought to number approx 80 statewide. The bill would also look at waste discharges into our waters, with an eye on possibly severely curtailing use of in-water net pens, which are used only currently for Atlantic salmon but are being eyed by NW Tribes, such as the Jamestown S’Klallam for possible black cod and steelhead rearing. Jamestown tribal council member and policy manager for the tribes natural resources department Kurt Grinnell was present but did not speak, however a recent editorial he penned expressed support for the ban on non-native fish. Senator Van de Wege shared an email, signed by essentially every tribal leader in Puget Sound, supporting the ban. The bill has moved out of committee and appears to be the most likely to reach a Senate vote.

Representative Chapman has co-authored a bill (HB2418 http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/2418.pdf) with widespread support in the House, which calls for more study before an outright ban. This was clearly unpopular with many of the attendees. Representative Chapman stressed that he thought the Senate bill would be the most likely bill to be passed. Both legislators also told the crowd that more negotiation was forthcoming, and neither could say at this point what the final wording might include.

A Republican written house bill, HB 2260, http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2017-18/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/2260.pdf, is also in play, but has no real support by Democrats. It simply calls for a ban on Atlantic Salmon.

Members of the polite audience that spoke included many supporting the ban, and a few calling for more study. The manager of the Cooke net pen facility in Port Angeles spoke, saying that they had done a great job there, but giving data on salmon farming that to a number of attendees seemed hard to believe. Representative Chapman said that while Cooke’s previous company Icicle Seafoods had seemed trustworthy, since the purchase of Icicle by Cooke he had seen little interest in engagement or communication by their international headquarters.

There was concern expressed by some of the speakers over a lack of more rigorously limiting or outright banning of open water net pens, missing in all the bills. New technology from companies such as Atlantic Sapphire out of Miami, Florida makes it economically feasible to raise farmed fish upland, with little waste water outflow and much less reliance on antibiotics. Current state and federal laws exempt net pens from clean water laws, and there are appear to be no studies done on the ongoing release of antibiotics into our waters by these farms.

Other speakers raised concerns of handing over rewriting rules and studies to the very agencies that have stonewalled critics of net pen aquaculture over the last decade. Jefferson County, which wrote in a ban on net pens to their Shoreline Master Program (SMP) was stopped from implementing the ban by the Department of Ecology, who threatened to rewrite the SMP themselves if the county did not remove the ban. Oddly, DOE did allow one other county to implement a ban, then they publicly apologized for doing so. While County Commissioners and environmental activists brought a plethora of more recent studies, showing negative impacts to the environment, Ecology ignored the science and continued to support old science by NOAA that only looked at the issue of degradation to the bottom within a 200ft circle around the pens. NOAA never apparently has looked into the issue of antibiotic escape into the wider environment.

In 2007, Kurt Beardslee of the Wild Fish Conservancy testified before Ecology that Dr. Whitely of the University of Washington (Professor Emeritus, Zoology), had looked at the issue of total suspended solids as early as 1997, and had determined that four of the twelve salmon netpens in Washington State discharged 93 percent of the “total suspended solids” into Puget Sound as the treatment sewage plant serving the city of Seattle. Ecology ignored the science then. Mr. Beardslee went on to testify that other scientific studies (Goldberg 2001 and Hardy (2001)) equated the waste from a net pen salmon farm of 200,000 fish to the sewage output of 20,000, 25,000, or 65000 humans, depending on the parameter nitrogen, phosphorus or fecal matter, respectively.

Representative Chapman praised the rapid response of newly elected Department of Natural Resources chief Hilary Franz in placing a moratorium on net pens immediately following the failure of the pens in Northern Puget Sound last year. We also support Ms. Franz efforts.

While there is a need to carve out exemptions for some limited net pens by tribes in the area, there are great concerns that the technology of net pens is at odds with the goals of clean water and wild fish. A ban while a deep review of the science that’s been ignored over the last decade is welcome and probably needed to get passage of the current bills. However, we urge the tribes to work as swiftly as possible over the next few years to evaluate and explore upland tank technology, to achieve goals of restoration of native fish populations and marketing of fish to the public.

It seems that nothing ever gets done until a crisis occurs, and now we have had our net pen crisis. Many voices have been warning our government about the risks of putting these non-native fish into the Sound. While the industry tends to downplay the likelihood of Atlantic salmon ever threatening our native stocks, given the lack of real scientific study on the issue of antibiotic use and other chemical releases into the wider Sound, extreme caution is now warranted. Evolution teaches us that genetic changes due to environmental pressures need only a few members of a population to experience rapid adaptation to survive. We cannot be sure that escaped Atlantic salmon may not create just a change. But we don’t need to wait for that to happen. The crisis has happened, the momentum to end this mistake in judgement is large, now let’s get it done. Ban non-native fish immediately and seriously contemplate supporting a move to upland facilities by offering some kind of experimental support funding and fast tracking, as Senator Van de Wege did in the last decade with the building of experimental hog fuel facilities in Port Angeles and elsewhere.

Pesticides and salmon: Can we see a light at the end of the tunnel? – Watching Our Water Ways

Once again, the National Marine Fisheries Service has determined in official findings that three common pesticides — chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion — raise the risk of extinction for threatened and endangered salmon. By extension, for the first time, the agency also concluded that those same pesticides threaten Puget Sound’s endangered orca population by putting their prey — chinook and other salmon — at risk. This politically and legally charged issue — which has been around for more than 15 years — has gone beyond a debate over potential harm from pesticides. It also raises uncomfortable questions about whether our society will follow science as we try to solve environmental problems. Chris Dunagan reports. (Watching Our Water Ways)

https://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2018/01/16/pesticides-and-salmon-can-we-see-a-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel/

As sewage still spills, no timeline for fix to treatment plant’s Katrina-scale damage – Seattle Times

This is an incredibly bad situation. We are going to be dumping the entire sewage of Seattle into Puget Sound with only screening of primary solids for months.  I chalk this up as a Global Warming event, as the massive rains that  created this event, are consistent with the projections of increasing storm intensity in global warming scenarios.

It’s going to be a long road back to recovery for the crippled West Point wastewater-treatment plant in Seattle. A workhorse of the regional wastewater-treatment system, the plant is estimated to have sustained at least $25 million in damage in a flood Feb. 9 and cannot presently function properly. Recovery of the plant remains in very early stages. Damage had never occurred at the plant at such a scale. It has taken Hurricane Sandy or Katrina-scale damage to produce similar wreckage elsewhere in the country. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/as-sewage-still-spills-no-timeline-for-fix-to-treatment-plants-katrina-scale-damage/

Washington state suing Monsanto over PCB pollution  – Seattle Times via AP

Interesting…Governor Inslee is going after Monsanto for cleanup costs.

Washington says it’s the first U.S. state to sue the agrochemical giant Monsanto over pollution from PCBs. Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the lawsuit at a news conference Thursday afternoon. The chemicals, polychlorinated biphenyls, were used in many industrial and commercial applications, including in paint, coolants, sealants and hydraulic fluids. PCB contamination impairs rivers, lakes and bays around the country. The lawsuit, which seeks potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup costs, was filed in King County Superior Court and says Monsanto long knew about the toxic dangers PCBs posed. Gene Johnson reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/washington-state-suing-monsanto-over-pcb-pollution/

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