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Aug 25
2010

Ship Sewage Rules

Posted by Bruce Robinson in water , transportation , tourism , public safety , policy , ocean , news , international , Health , government , garbage , fish , environment , corporate responsibiliyt , coast , California , business , animals

Bruce Robinson

Land-based sewage discharges into the ocean are illegal. Soon that ban will apply to big ships, too, under new EPA rules being announced today.

Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was Environmental Director for the City and County of San Francisco before he was appointed his new job by the Obama administration last January. He would prefer that the ship sewage discharge ban reached at least twice as far offshore, but says three miles is all his agency can cover.

 Even these new rules will only restrict about 4/5ths of the sewage discharges into the state’s bays and other coastal waters; most of the remaining 20% comes from smaller vessels not governed by the new rules. Blumenfeld would like to see an eventual system of controlled dockside flushes into regional treatment facilities, but acknowledges that’s little more than a vision right now.

While the new EPA rules are welcomed, some environmental groups are pushing for more stringent standards. There is also a separate  move underway to impose a full ban on sewage discharges from all vessels on Tomales Bay.

Jun 28
2010

Jack London's Lake

Posted by Bruce Robinson in water , volunteer , state government , Sonoma Valley , recreation , preservation , policy , parks , nonprofit orgs , history , fish , farms , environment , California , author , aging

Bruce Robinson

Jack London's cottage and ranch buildings have been preserved at the state park that bears his name in Glen Ellen. But there is another part of his historic holding that is languishing in need of repair and restoration

Cracks in the dam, such as the one in the center of this photograph, are continuing to widen as the muti-layered process of getting the pre-requisites and approvals for remediation work drags on. Five years into it, Elisa Stancil, a neighbor and volunteer event coordinator at the park, says progress is slowly being made.

London erected the dam and created the rain-fed lake in 1913, using it for both recreation (as seen here) and for his farm.  Restoring the 98-year old dam is estimated to cost $1.3 million, but Stancil says that, too, has been delayed by the glacial permitting process.

The photos below show the lake's water diverter, seen as it appeared while under construction in 1913, and as it looks today. They're taken from the picture gallery on the website of the Jack London Lake Alliance.

Jun 25
2010

Hands Across The Sand

Posted by Bruce Robinson in water , Sonoma County , resources , recreation , politics , parks , ocean , nonprofit orgs , Marin , legislation , government , fish , environment , current events , conservation , Congress , California , activism

Bruce Robinson

Offshore oil drilling has never been embraced here on California’s north coast, but recent events in the Gulf Coast have bolstered that view elsewhere. Hands Across the Sand, a coordinated series of demonstrations across the country, including one near Bodega Bay, will try to reinforce those changing attitudes on June 26th.

Rep. Lynn Woolsey’s Marine Sanctuary Expansion Bill (HR 223) and its identical Senate counterpart would build on existing protections and expand them to cover the entire Marin and Sonoma coastlines. Tom Roth, the congresswoman’s senior policy aide, offers details.

But Roth also notes that the partisan political climate in Washington has become increasingly hostile toward anything that sets out to restrict American oil development.

Regardless of what happens to Woolsey’s bill, Coastwalk Executive Director Una Glass points out that there is another, statewide, obstacle to coastal oil drilling, one that is already in place, even if it is not widely known.

 

 

Mar 04
2010

PCBs in Fish Oil

Posted by Bruce Robinson in wildlife , water , toxic , Science , research , nonprofit orgs , medicine , Health , fish , environment , chemicals , animals

Bruce Robinson

Fish oil capsules have long been suspected of including small amounts of toxic PCBs, but a new lawsuit contends some manufacturers of the supplements contain far more of the banned chemicals than others.

 Oakland attorney David Roe, who filed the suit on behalf of the Eureka-based Mateel Environmental Justice Foundation (known for their actions seeking enforcement of California's Proposition 65) and two other plaintiffs, says it included actions against General Nutrition Center and CVS  Pharmacy stores because it is important that the consumer warnings also be prominently placed in locations where consumers purchase these products.

 Roe says the tests his clients have conducted, and the lawsuit those tests prompted, are also intended to encourage the industry that produces fish oil supplements to do more rigorous testing themselves.

 A new website set up to publicize the lawsuit has details on the  legal action as well as  an online petition calling for stronger labeling requirements. There is also a list of the products tested and  their  test results. A summary graph is shown below.

 

 

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