The Illusion about our efforts to clean up oil spills

Andrew Nikiforuk has written an article in the Hakai magazine which supports one of our arguments in the work we did as intervenors in the National Energy Board Hearings on the Kinder Morgan/Trans Mountain Extension Pipeline project. This article profiles how we are being duped by oil companies and governments into believing that oil spills can be cleaned up and that oiled birds and mammals can be rehabilitated.

“And that’s where the state of marine oil spill response sits today: it creates little more than an illusion of a cleanup. Scientists — outside the oil industry — call it “prime-time theatre” or “response theatre.””

HakaiinstWhy Do We Pretend to Clean Up Ocean Oil Spills?

https://www.hakaimagazine.com/article-long/oil-spill-cleanup-illusion

 

 

 

dilbitAlso see:

Oil Sands Dilbit Causes Developmental Problems in Fish

 

Multiscale impacts of armoring on Salish Sea shorelines: Evidence for cumulative and threshold effects

This article is of particular importance to Metchosin since we have ongoing efforts in creating seawalls with the intent of protecting property.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299590287_Multiscale_impacts_of_armoring_on_Salish_Sea_shorelines_Evidence_for_cumulative_and_threshold_effects

Multiscale impacts of armoring on Salish Sea shorelines: Evidence for cumulative and threshold effects Megan N. Dethier a, * Jeffery R. Cordell c

a Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, USA
b Skagit River System Cooperative, LaConner, WA 98257, USA c School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA d School of Oceanography, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA e Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA 98504, USA, Wendel W. Raymond a, Andrea S. Ogston d, Aundrea N. McBride b, Sarah M. Heerhartz c

abstract:

Shoreline armoring is widespread in many parts of the protected inland waters of the Pacific Northwest,U.S.A, but impacts on physical and biological features of local nearshore ecosystems have only recently begun to be documented. Armoring marine shorelines can alter natural processes at multiple spatial and temporal scales; some, such as starving the beach of sediments by blocking input from upland bluffs may take decades to become visible, while others such as placement loss of armoring construction are im-
mediate. We quantified a range of geomorphic and biological parameters at paired, nearby armored and unarmored beaches throughout the inland waters of Washington State to test what conditions and parameters are associated with armoring. We gathered identical datasets at a total of 65 pairs of beaches: 6 in South Puget Sound, 23 in Central Puget Sound, and 36 pairs North of Puget Sound proper. At this broad scale, demonstrating differences attributable to armoring is challenging given the high natural variability in measured parameters among beaches and regions. However, we found that armoring was
consistently associated with reductions in beach width, riparian vegetation, numbers of accumulated logs, and amounts and types of beach wrack and associated invertebrates. Armoring-related patterns at lower beach elevations (further vertically from armoring) were progressively harder to detect. For some parameters, such as accumulated logs, there was a distinct threshold in armoring elevation that was associated with increased impacts. This large dataset for the first time allowed us to identify cumulative impacts that appear when increasing proportions of shorelines are armored. At large spatial and temporal scales, armoring much of a sediment drift cell may result in reduction of the finer grain-size
fractions on beaches, including those used by spawning forage fish. Overall we have shown that local impacts of shoreline armoring can scale-up to have cumulative and threshold effects – these should be considered when managing impacts to public resources along the coast. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Rethinking Shoreline Armoring

Given the many occurances of slumping of coastal bluffs in Metchoisn over the past winter, this series provides an excellent analysis reflecting on the effects of human interference in natural shoreline processes and the mitigation efforts being made in Puget Sound.

Rethinking shoreline armoring

Before and after view of shoreline restoration project at Penrose Point State Park in Pierce County, WA.

Salish Sea Currents presents an in-depth series focusing on shoreline armoring in the Puget Sound region. Close to a third of Puget Sound’s shoreline is classified as armored with bulkheads and other structures meant to hold back storm surge and erosion. But new studies reveal the often significant toll this is taking on the environment. To be notified of new Salish Sea Currents stories, subscribe to the Puget Sound Institute eNews.

The Shores of Metchosin Slideshow

This video/slideshow was put together in 2015 when I was doing a presentation in the Metchosin community on the risks to our shorelines from Increased oil tanker traffic from the proposed Kinder Morgan/ Trans Mountain Expansion Project proposal. All pictures were taken on the shores of Metchosin  either by Garry Fletcher, the ecoguardians at Race Rocks, and the aerial shots are from Coastal Ocean Resources.   It might take some time to load initially.

Moon over ocean: Taylor Beach July 2 2015

2015-07-02moonreflectl

A question for a physics student:
Why does the moon reflect in parallel lines over the ocean water rather than coming from narrow on the horizon to wide at the shore?

Six Problems with Beach Fires in Metchosin

It would be nice if we all were careful, cleaned up after ourselves and were considerate of others and the environment. Unfortunately the annual spring and early summer problem of Fires on Metchosin beaches provides much evidence to the contrary.  Those of us who frequent the area have observed a deterioration in the situation in the last few years on Taylor and Weir’s beach. This spring with the stair access to Wittty’s lagoon cut off and the announcement on local media that beach fires are not allowed in other municipalities but it was still okay  to have them in Metchosin, the problem has reached a tipping point.

Ed Note: Metchosin Council finally banned all beach fires in a meeting in mid-June this year.

1. THE PROBLEM OF THE BURNING OF PALETTES:

The above was just part of last weeks legacy on Taylor Beach:

A quick review of the internet points out that :
Many Pre-2005 pallets have been treated with Methyl Bromide prior to exporting (part of phytosanitary regulations before import/export shipping to reduce risk of importing wood diseases and pests from country to country). The Methyl Bromide treated pallets should be disposed of as hazardous waste since it is dangerous to both people and the environment.  Newer pallets are heat treated, but don’t rule out mildicides ( for fungal inhibition) applied to some pallets.

2. THE BURNING BEACH DRIFTWOOD PROBLEM:

It saddens us to see people chopping or sawing up  large logs  or dragging them whole onto fires . These logs,  some well over 50 years old provide habitat for beach creatures and being moveable, can absorb wave energy and help to stabilize the backshore from increasing erosion.

Why do people continue to burn driftwood when there is clear evidence that it can produce toxic substances?

This from the EPA in the US:

  • Never burn household garbage or cardboard. Plastics, foam and the colored ink on magazines, boxes, and wrappers produce harmful chemicals when burned.
  • Never burn coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood because it releases toxic chemicals when burned.
  • Never burn ocean driftwood, plywood, particle board, or any wood with glue on or in it. They all release toxic chemicals when burned.
  • Never burn wet, rotted, diseased, or moldy wood.

From:http://www.bcairquality.ca/topics/stove-burning-practices.html
” The driftwood found on B.C. beaches may seem like an economically attractive heat source. Driftwood, however, is laden with salt, and burning it releases sodium and chlorine ions. The potential exists for these chlorine ions to form chlorinated compounds such as dioxins and furans, which are suspected human carcinogens. They may also corrode your stove and venting system.”

3. THE “I’VE GOT TO HAVE MY OWN PIECE OF THE BEACH” PROBLEM:2015-03-23multiplefirepitsjpg

 

Why is it not okay to use someone’s old firepit instead of building a new one a few feet away, creating another mess?
Last week I counted 40 old and recent firepits from this season along a stretch of no more than 200 metres of Taylor Beach.

 

 

 

 

4. THE PROBLEM WITH THE MESS PEOPLE LEAVE:

Probably before the end of summer I will get a picture of the melted broken bottles and aluminum beer cans left in fire-pits, but for now this will have to do. The hazard this poses for children and animals is unacceptable. Winter storms will distribute any material left like in mounds and pits  over the beach, posing an unsuspecting hazard.

5. THE  HABITAT DESTRUCTION PROBLEM:

gf-sandlance-july1320154In the photo below, the darkened sand area, a diameter of around 4 metres or 12 feet , is where there will be complete sterilization of the sand and death of any organisms living within it. Sand is not an inert environment to begin with. It can have a complex ecosystem of  bacteria and invertebrates which contribute to decomposition and nutrient cycling , as well as a habitat for forage fish.

 

2015-06-13firepit1

Darkened sand shows area of influence of a beach fire.

6. THE EXTREMELY DRY WEATHER AND WILDFIRE RISK PROBLEM:

Perhaps this is the biggest problem that threatens to have a huge impact on life in Metchosin. The continuity of dry brush and forest from the beaches to backyards is a real threat for wildfires. Fanned by winds, fires that escape or were not completely extinguished and left unattended could cause untold damage to residents and property in the district.

****RECOMMENDATIONS:
So one shouldn’t complain unless they are prepared to do something about it. Here are my recommendations:
1. Have fires in designated locations only . Why not install a set of  metal container pits for the duration of the fire season, and all wood must be brought to the beach by the fire-maker.. ie no in-situ burning of driftwood (see reasons above)
2. The allowed season for fires must be regulated by conditions not by a  standard date like the start of a certain month.
3. Absolutely no burning of old habitat logs.
4. Absolutely no leaving of trash including bottles or cans in fires..( Pack it in pack it out. )
5. All fires to be extinguished by water. ( Everyone needs a bucket with them.)
6. Make very clear signage at the end of Taylor road… and if necessary for a few weekends have volunteers sit there and hand out information pamphlets on sustainability of the values of the beach.
7. Note that municipalities can regulate: from http://www.bcairquality.ca/topics/outdoor-burning-laws.html
8.. As a taxpayer I keep this in the back of my mind:  from the BC Forest Service website :
  • Q: Are people entitled to build fires on the beach?
    A: Yes, people have the right to build fires on the beach as long as they are in compliance with either their local government bylaws or the Wildfire Act & Regulations. If Campfires are restricted in this area, then a beach campfire fire is also prohibited.
  • Q: What are the rules that apply to having a campfire (a half a meter by a half a meter used for recreational or first nation’s ceremonial purposes)?
    A: A person may light, fuel or use a Campfire when:
     the person is not prohibited from doing so under another enactment;
     to do so is safe and is likely to continue to be safe;
     the person establishes a fuel break around the burn area;  while the fire is burning, the person ensures that
     the fuel break is maintained, and
     the fire is watched and patrolled by a person to prevent the escape of fire and the person is equipped with at least o one fire fighting hand tool, or o 8 litres of water in one or more containers;
     before leaving the area, the person ensures that the fire is extinguished.
  • Q: What are some safety guidelines when conducting a beach fire?
    A: Ensure that you comply with regulations and/or bylaws in your area regarding fire size and safety measures. Always check whether there are any bans or restrictions in effect, and pay close attention to wind conditions before lighting a fire. Keep fires at a reasonable distance from flammable materials and never leave them unattended. As hot coals can easily reignite: use water to extinguish the fire and ensure that it is cold to the touch before leaving it unattended.Q: If a fire is started illegally, who is liable for the suppression costs it if it escapes?
    A: If the fire is started within an organized area, costs are assumed by the fire department (local government) and area tax payers. If it is started outside of a fire department’s jurisdiction (crown land), the BC Forest Service responds and assumes costs. If the person who started the fire is caught and found to be in non-compliance with regulations, there are penalties that can be enforced, such as restorative justice, ticketing (fines), cost recovery, or criminal prosecution in serious cases.“Local governments have the power to set bylaws to control (back)yard burning, campfires and beach fires within their boundaries. A growing number of municipalities have passed their own bylaws that ban backyard burning and other kinds of burning. For more information on municipal burning bylaws, see Inventory of Air Quality Bylaws in British Columbia for Anti-Idling, Open Burning and Wood-Burning Appliances (PDF: 1017 KB/197 pages), and Review of Open Burning Bylaws on Vancouver Island (PDF: 150 KB/25 pages).”

Some other references :

BC Govt Regulations:

District of Metchosin Burning Regulations:

Metchosin FIre Department Burning regulations:

Colwood Burning Regulations:

Central Saanich Burning Regulations:

Saanich Beach Fire regulations:

Comox Valley Regional District:

Newport Beach Fire Problems

 

Herring Spawn Video from Denman Island

Why are BC residents so concerned about what might happen to their coastline from an increase in shipping and oil tankers?

We don’t have a scene like this video portrays in Metchosin, although we do get frenzy feeding by birds and mammals in the fall at Race Rocks but we do have forage fish which live on our beaches and provide year round food for the ecosystem.

Don’t miss this video from Denman Island : https://vimeo.com/121960894?fb_action_ids=10153160722717497&fb_action_types=

Tower Point Subdivision

I went over to Tower Point today to get a better sense of the seafront north of the Tower Point portion of Witty’s lagoon CRD park. It is part of  a subdivision proposal. This is a good example of natural Capital of the Municipality. Public access to this area would be possible by all of the other holders of property in the subdivision, as well as the public. With the pressures from increasing population in the neighbouring communities of Langford and Colwood the value of this area kept as public property would be very high.
2015-04-13 towerpointproperty

The shorefront on the property north of Tower Point which  is subject to a subdivision proposal

From an APRM newsletter:
Parkland Acquisition at Subdivision: Under section 941 of the Local Government ACT, the owner of land being subdivided must provide park land when three or more additional lots are being created and at least one of the parcels is 3 Hs(4.94 acres) or smaller.  The amount of parkland that is required, without compensation, is 5% of the land being proposed for subdivision….where the local govenment has the authority to decides whether it wants 5% deducation or cash-in-lieu, it is up to Council (unless specifically delegated to the Approving Officer) to determine the amount (up to 5%) and location.
…where the OCP has policies and designations for future parks, the local government can decide whether to accept land or cash-oin-lieu  Absent such policies, the landowner decides, with the compensation equal to market value of the entire parcel prior to its subdivision but it has preliminary approval for subdivision…
towerpointmap

The shoreline location— see red arrow and bracket on the right.

The shorefront here would make a very good addition to the part of Witty’s Lagoon regional park which is locted at Tower Point . Residents of the community made a submission at tonight’s council meeting pointing out the advantages of a park dedication for a strip along the shoreline. It is hoped that the council, when provided with the final version of the application will recommend this park border extension.

I also took some pictures of the wildflowers and features of the shoreline in the park at Tower Point bordering this subdivision. See in the next blog.

Horses on Taylor Beach

horseonbeach

The holes punched out by horses can be up to 25 cm. in depth.

The Metchosin Community has a considerable population of recreational horses. It is accepted that to criticize anything horse-related might not be politically correct in Metchosin.

The pictures included in this post represent an extreme example but they are useful in order to point out the potential environmental impact of this activity. Let alone making it gf-sandlance-july1320154difficult to walk on until the next high tide comes in to smooth it out, the real issue is what is happening to the habitat of the forage fish. Both Pacific Smelt and Sand lance inhabit intertidal zones on Taylor beach. When they spawn, these forage fish deposit eggs  just under the surface of the sand . They are vulnerabale to compaction and excessive drying out before they are carried out by the tide.  Given the lack of protection afforded the habitat of these fish and the over-harvesting in the herring fishery, these essential small fish of the food web are challenged enough already.

horsehoof

horsetracksonbeach

Horse hoof punctures in the sand right down in the area where sand lance are depositing their eggs in burrows.