[Tweeters] Chambers Bay Beach Closure

Teresa Michelsen teresa at avocetconsulting.com
Sun Jul 7 11:46:36 PDT 2013

Yes, I do understand and it's one of the great ironies of the problem, that
pilings appear to support so much life (or actually do support so much
life). The biggest issue occurs with the fish eggs when they are at their
most vulnerable state, rather than with adult (or even juvenile) fish and
shellfish. PAHs can cross the cell barrier very easily of the eggs and cause
all kinds of deformities as well as outright mortality. This is especially
true when there are piling fragments in intertidal zones or for fish eggs
(e.g., herring) that attach to pilings in the sunlit zone of the water.
There is a reaction between sunlight and PAHs that makes them far more
toxic. Amphibians are also at risk for the same reasons. Much of this is
just now starting to be understood, but there is recent research by the WDFW
beginning to shed light on the problem. Pacific Herring populations are
crashing in Puget Sound and this is potentially one of the contributors.
Because herring serve as a food resource to so many other fish and mammals,
this is an issue of significant concern.

A completely unrelated issue is that many of these old creosote pilings and
decking are deteriorating by now and becoming navigational and public safety
hazards. There are also many areas where community and tribal groups would
like pilings removed for aesthetic reasons and to restore the bays to their
more natural states. DNR leases also state that all structures placed on
state lands should be removed at the end of the lease period, which
obviously has not happened in the past but is being remedied now. Not only
are there old pilings and docks, there are sunken vessels and all kinds of
other remnants of the past. We have gotten to the point where removing them
sometimes clashes with historical preservation laws :D Having worked in this
field for 20+ years, I could go on endlessly about restoration issues but
will stop there :)

Teresa Michelsen
Olympia WA

-----Original Message-----
From: tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu
[mailto:tweeters-bounces at mailman1.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Kelly
Sent: Sunday, July 07, 2013 11:10 AM
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Subject: RE: [Tweeters] Chambers Bay Beach Closure

I feel better about the piling removals knowing the degree to which the
problem has been studied though I'm still not clear on the magnitude of
actual measurements of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons leaching from the
really old pilings (maybe I need to read more carefully). Many times over
the course of my life, I have chipped away at the deep crusts of barnacles
and mussels on these old pilings to obtain polychaete worms for fish bait
and to attract pile perch once the tide rose. The number and diversity of
invertebrates that live on them and the density of fish; Shiner Perch, Pile
Perch, Striped surf perch, and salmon is unlike anything you see elsewhere
in south Puget Sound. In turn, the number and variety of fish-eating birds
and mammals is striking at these locations. It makes it counter-intuitive
that they are killing the aquatic life that is so overwhelming abundant all
around them.

Kelly McAllister

Pilings leach creosote throughout their entire life spans, particularly when
they start to decay. The Department of Ecology recently did a study that
showed that creosoted pilings and other creosoted structures around Puget
Sound were responsible for some 30% of the toxic hydrocarbons still entering
the Sound, second only to wood stove emissions. Here are some references if
you want to read more about it:


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