Hello folks, the removal of the Unical pier in Edmonds city has begun. I believe it can be good fuel for a discussion about the balance point between removing toxins to improve environmental health and destroying wildlife in the process. I have looked into the many reasons behind the removal of this pier and am gradually getting up to speed on the issues surrounding environmental mitigation and in particular the realm of chemicals known as PAH, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, the nasties in Creasote, which is used to treat wood to make it resistant to the elements, including bugs.
At first I was concerned that the amazing sea life, some metric tons of it, that has come to call this place home over the last 80, was going un-noticed and would be destroyed unnesscarily. Then I wrote the city with my concerns and got a long list of what appeared to be a sensative line by line response. I was encouraged at first that removing the pier was perhaps the best thing to do after all. Then I began looking further into some of the responses, I began to uncover what could be examples of "green washing", thinly vailing alterior motives under the guise of environmental stewardship.
I have asked many questions of the environmental assessment that was done, to find that it's for the most part not actually of the site in question but data collected from sights "like it". The list of critters they mention are what appears at low tide at best and does not seem to relfect the sub-tidal area, the part in the deep water section.
So who cares? Well, the deep water protion that is in 60 feet of water juts out into an area that gets exposed to heavy tidal currents and since it's creation over 80 years ago, has grown an unusual and diverse reef consisting of a myriad of invertebrates and massive schools of fish. An entire ecosystem seems to have developed around the food source, mainly the critters that get knocked loose and rain down during heavy surf from the shallow portion of the pillings. It's one of the richest ecosystems i've seen in this area.
The Possible Greenwashing:
-The city's point person tells the public the critters are going to be harvested by the local aquariums... sounds good, right? A contact at one of the aquariums tells me there is so much life that they can't deal with it all so they have selected a few of the 900 pillings to harvest... less than 1% of the sea life appears to be on the list while the explanations implies much more.
-No test for PAH has been performed to see if it's a problem at this site... and many of the pillings can be removed without destroying the end "T" section of the pier where most of the life resides.
-the deep water section is in a high current area and this is not typically an area where PAH builds up in the sediment to dangerous levels... until testing is done at this site, there's no real science being applied to this project.
-The long list of nasties that are set for removal are in the above water portion, like the balasts of the old lights, the lagging of the old pipes and the pipes and tanks left over from when the pier was used for delivering oil... all of which can be removed without destroying the reef.
-Removal of the pier has been promoted as necessary to make room for the new ferry slip, though no current plans shows that the current site of the pier is where the ferry slip will be.
-there is a giant condo project being finished that overlooks the beach... rumors are that there is some connection between the commercial enterprise and the removal of the "unsightly mess". I believe the view could be beautified and much of the mess cleaned up without destroying the end part of the pier.
-I have a call into Gregoires office to see if a rumor could be true that the developer of the condo project donated 350K to her campaign and to see if there is some kind of favoritism is going on in return.
-There has been vitually not public notice where the public was likely to see it... there were no public hearings specifically for this site.
-the city of edmonds exempt DOT from the Shoreline Substantial
Development Permit (SDP) that would have required a more fully disclosed process and public hearings with adequate public notice.
I am concerned that science is not actually at the root of this, that perhaps special interests are.
If you are interested in helping to see if there is anything that can be done last minute please contact me.
If you have information pro or con about PAH and just how bad it really is, i'm all ears.
Is removing the end portion of this pier going to do more harm than good?
here are some shots:
Picasa Web Albums - ocean - Edmonds Oil d...
regardless of weather this project can be halted, i'm hoping folks can use this opportunity to discuss the issues surrounding it, as this pier is just one of many potential local dive sites to be removed in the name of Environemental clean up. We stand to loose quite a few dive sites, which is ok if it's really the right thing, but if it turns out to be Greenwashing, i'll be pissed!