Puget SoundCorps crew battles the elements to remove toxic creosote debris from San Juan county beaches

Photo of PS Corps crewmembers on Neck Point.
Puget SoundCorps crewmembers show some muscle–and teamwork–as they prepare to remove a creosote-treated timber from the lagoon at Neck Point on Shaw Island.

Last week, as high winds, cold weather, and rain all conspired to make life miserable, a hardworking team of one DNR restoration specialist and six Puget SoundCorps crewmembers braved the elements to clear creosote debris from two beaches in the San Juan Islands.

The crew removed about 10 tons of creosote debris from Neck Point on Shaw Island and an estimated 12 to 15 tons of debris from Jacksons Beach on San Juan Island, spending two days at each beach.

“Our team works all over Puget Sound, but we focus on sites with larger concentrations of debris to maximize our efforts,” said Lisa Kaufman, a restoration manager with DNR’s Creosote Removal Program. “Sites such as Jacksons Beach and Neck Point are natural areas for accumulating debris.”

In 2007, DNR removed nearly 38 tons of creosote-treated debris from Jacksons Beach.

The beach is a documented forage fish spawning ground and a high-priority area for creosote removal.

Funding for the debris removal project– about $25,000–came from the Washington Department of Ecology and the state’s voter-approved tax on hazardous substances.

Creosote debris can be found throughout Puget Sound. As old docks and structures deteriorate, they can break apart and float out into the current, often washing up on shorelines. Much of this material has been treated with creosote, a combination of hundreds of chemicals, including polycyclic hydrocarbons (PAHs). These chemicals are toxic to marine life and to people.

DNR will be coordinating with the Friends of the San Juans to remove derelict creosote-treated pilings from the islands in the the next year or two.

Many thanks to the great team who made quick work of the debris removal:
• Supervisor: Kevin Anderson, DNR restoration
Puget SoundCorps Crewmembers:
• Jason McMillen, crew lead
• Gina Boland
• Nolan Claybo
• Luther Caulkins
• Cody Hendrix
• Danielle Williams

Thanks, also, to our partners in last week’s creosote clean up: Port of Friday Harbor, Ecology, and Friends of the San Juans.

View more photos of the crew at work.
• Read the article in the Journal of the San Juans, “State crew cracks down on creosote.”
• Learn more about DNR’s Creosote Removal Program

Puget SoundCorps
The Puget SoundCorps is part of the broader Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) administered by the Washington Department of Ecology. The SoundCorps, which includes youth and military veterans, creates jobs while cleaning up state lands across the 12-county area that makes up the Puget Sound basin.

 The Puget SoundCorps was established in 2011 as a partnership among the departments of Ecology, Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, Veterans Affairs, and Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.

Most Puget SoundCorps crews are made up of young adults from 18 to 25 years old, but in 2012-2013, some crews include military veterans who work on DNR urban forestry projects in King and Pierce counties. Age restrictions for military veterans may be waived. 

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