Video: The Great Battery Roundup of 2012, updated

March 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

West Seattle diver/photographer Laura James has shared undersea stories here before – including previous reports on the ongoing project to get old batteries up and out of the water. Now the total number of batteries they’ve retrieved and recycled is into double digits, and Laura shares an update, in the five-minute video clip you can watch here. (For background info, there’s an FAQ of sorts on her website.)

ADDED 9:45 PM:
Commenter Nick asked how the batteries got down in the first place. We asked Laura – and she shared some additional info; read on:

There used to be an old marina at Seacrest. Boaters would just dump batteries over the side of the boat when they were no longer good. Everyone tells me ‘this is a long-since-abandoned practice’ which indeed seems to be mostly the case (as the majority of the batteries are old style) but at least one of the batteries we found was far newer, probably dumped within past 3-5 years, so I would hazard a guess that it still goes on from time to time. We mostly recovered from the area directly out from the beach, and have not yet covered the area under the fishing pier and passenger ferry docks which seems to have an abundance there as well. The smallest battery we recovered was around 40 lbs, the largest a huge marine battery weighting in at 160 lbs, with many being in the 60lb range.

This video may seem a bit ‘light hearted’ for the subject matter at hand, but what I am trying to show is a story about the cleanup itself, about people who are doing something good, removing the discarded batteries and enjoying themselves in the process. Not another sad hopeless story about how we have trashed or are trashing the ocean. Proactive reclamation … There is always a lot of talk about not adding to the problem (the influx of storm water, garbage and other pollutants into the Sound), I’m trying to encourage and perhaps inspire people to take action and reclaim their waterways. Not just a once-a-year thing, but a continuing consistent process, because that is how we will make a dent in this mess and perhaps even start making things better.

19 Comments

  1. How do all of those even get down there?

    Comment by Nick — 9:29 pm March 1, 2012 #

  2. Tremendous and wonderful of her! And a great story here. The other day I heard about the plastic pile on the ocean, so big nothing can be done about it. Fish eat the plastic, croak, decompose, and the plastic goes right back to the pile for a another round. I’m def not against plastic but the sad state of education and or personable responsibility. (forget about common sense, haha) Now batteries, ugh! So I got to thinking what\how could I possibly help. Now this! Maybe some complimentary 02 refills would be a start. Thanks Puget Sound rescuer!

    Comment by Admiral935 — 9:32 pm March 1, 2012 #

  3. There’s a bit about it in the “FAQ” link in the text above. But Laura also just sent me a longer explanation I will add – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:43 pm March 1, 2012 #

  4. A heartfelt THANK YOU to Laura & friends, and all who try and do their “little part” in caring for the enviroment…cumulatively, if we all do, it can pay huge dividends.

    Comment by ILoveWestSeattle — 9:54 pm March 1, 2012 #

  5. Great service. Thank you!!!

    Comment by Mike — 10:07 pm March 1, 2012 #

  6. Thank you, Laura, and all your fellow divers in this video. You are making our environment better, and the video shares with the rest of us the “hidden” pollution.

    Comment by EileneHutchinson — 10:45 pm March 1, 2012 #

  7. Thanks for the explanation :)

    Comment by Nick — 11:58 pm March 1, 2012 #

  8. Nice work! On the project as well as the video. I guess it would be too generous to imagine the dumpers were hoping to establish an artificial reef? ;)

    Comment by 35this35mph — 9:28 am March 2, 2012 #

  9. This is absolutely one of the coolest things I have read in a long time. THANK YOU Laura, and all else who have helped, for making the Puget Sound a better place!

    Comment by andrea — 10:26 am March 2, 2012 #

  10. I TRY TO GET OUT ABOUT ONCE A MONTH WITH THE TRASH GRABBER PROVIDED FOR FREE FROM SPU SEATTLE PUBLIC UTILITIES AND SPEND AN HOUR OR SO PICKING UP DEBRIS. NOW WITH THE MONTHS AHEAD AND HAVING LONGER DAYS MAYBE OTHERS CAN PARTICIPATE TOO. I BELIEVE ALOT OF THE DEBRIS IS FROM THE UTILITY TRUCKS OR GARBAGE TRUCKS THEMSELVES BECAUSE ALOT OF THE DEBRIS I AM PICKING UP FROM THE CURBSIDE AND PARKING STRIP IS ALUMINUM AND PLASTICS IE LIGHT WEIGHT STUFF THAT CAN EASILY FLY OUT OF THE HOPPER ON THE TRUCKS. IN A TWO BLOCK RANGE I CAN EASILY FILL A PLASTIC GROCERY BAG. IT’S UNFORTUNATE. GET AHOLD OF THE FALL OR SPRING CLEAN UP DEPARTMENT OF SPU AND GET YOUSELF AND DAMN IT USE THE TRASH GRABBERS TO IMPROVE THE IMAGE OF THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND MORE IMPORTANTLY OUR PUGET SOUND AND FAR REACHING OCEANS. TAKE CARE.

    Comment by DF — 12:28 pm March 2, 2012 #

  11. Bravo…and Ennio Morricone would be most proud.

    Comment by Sergio Leone's Ghost — 1:53 pm March 2, 2012 #

  12. love it! so glad there are people willing to volunteer their time and enjoy doing this because it just looks like a lot of work to me. thanks for sharing and being so positive Laura.

    Comment by resident3 — 2:33 pm March 2, 2012 #

  13. Thanks so much to these divers who care about our Sound. Anywhere there are boats, there is debris that is just jettisonned overboard, even now. Dive under a big marina and it’ll make you ill. Fishing nets and gear kill marine mammals every year by the thousands by drowning them. In all 7 beautiful oceans of our planet there are depressed areas (like the whirpool when the sink drains) where tons of plastic and garbage have accumulated and swirl around contributing to the pollution and sickness of our seas and sea creatures. Ultimately, our fresh water comes from the seas. Should make you think a little. Thanks so much to Laura James and the rest of the folks that are performing these wonderful deeds. People, please don’t throw anything in the water. The next whale harmed may be by you!

    Comment by Kris — 3:24 pm March 2, 2012 #

  14. Thank you all for the kind and positive comments! I must admit, sometimes it feels like I’m tilting at windmills… But when we do a ‘second pass’ and find no batteries, and I see the smiling faces of my team members, happy to have been able to ‘do some good’, it makes it 200% worth it!

    DF has the right idea with the trash grabbers. If people want to help out with very little effort, get a trash grabber and bucket (or bag)! (someday I’d like to be able to sponsor clean up buckets for school programs) and start in your own front yard, parking strip, ally way, street… Pick up cigarette butts and garbage along your regular walk and the shared greenspace and waterfront. It doesn’t matter how it got there, what is important is cleaning it up!

    As divers, picking up UW trash is great, we are the last stand, if we don’t pick it up, who will??!? (maybe a grey whale accidentally?). We are limited though, we can’t spend all day underwater… But think about it, ALL of us (divers and non divers alike, young people, old people and everyone in between), can have even more impact if we proactively remove trash BEFORE it ever reaches the water. On the surface there are no gas supply limits, no decompression limits, the only limit being our free time or the time we actively commit to an act of good.

    It is up to us to keep trash out of Puget Sound. Don’t let it get to the storm drain… Don’t let it collect on the beaches. The problem is too large for any one government agency or non-profit group to solve alone, it is up to us a both individuals and as a community to work towards a cleaner (less trash filled at least) environment.

    A huge thanks to Neal Chism for his inspiration with regards to this effort, watching him pick up trash from the Duwamish waterway was very moving to me. One man against a never ending flow of trash. I guess something went “ping” in my head and knew that just shooting video to build awareness was not enough. I’ve been encouraging folks to clean up parking lots and streets for some time (keep stuff out of the storm outfall), but this isn’t encouragement anymore, this is recruitment :)

    Comment by DiverLaura — 3:58 pm March 2, 2012 #

  15. love to watch the video but on my old computer, it stops every 2 seconds (literally) to refresh. Any place else I can see it?

    Comment by metrognome — 7:42 pm March 2, 2012 #

  16. Hi there Metrognome, I have also uploaded it on youtube, maybe that will play better for you?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSGHYKr8NXE

    Comment by DiverLaura — 12:51 am March 3, 2012 #

  17. DiverLaura — perfect! thanks. I am always gratified to see what one person can accomplish when their passion and vision inspire others to action. It’s even better when you can all have fun at the same time! And drink coffee!
    Many years ago when I first started at Metro, there was an effort to educate citizens on non-toxic alternatives to hazardous household products and to encourage people to turn in these dangerous products rather than dumping them down the drain or having them end up in a landfill where they could leach into the groundwater. I’m not sure if I was more stunned by the number of people from various gov’t agencies and pvt co’s who volunteered to staff the weekend HHW roundups or by the number of citizens who waited in long lines and expressed their thanks to us for what we were doing. It was a small beginning that turned into a national effort that has ultimately kept an impressive amount of toxic material out of our water supply.
    Thanks again for leading by example.

    Comment by metrognome — 2:43 am March 3, 2012 #

  18. @SergioLeone’sGhost — Ennio Morricone would probably indeed be proud, but the ‘Rawhide’ theme song was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin with lyrics by Ned Washington. I believe Frankie Laine is the singer of this version, altho it was recorded by a diverse list of artists, incl. Liza Minelli, the Jackson 5 and the Blues Brothers.

    Comment by metrognome — 2:57 am March 3, 2012 #

  19. This is TERRIFIC!! Thank YOU and your team of “cowboys” for your hard work and great little film. I think we are exposed to so much bad news, harsh and sad stories, that we tend to glaze over when things look grim. I know I do…it can be so depressing. But THIS! This is positive, and inspiring, and the film about it is a little cheeky with a valuable message about something important. I watched the whole thing and it made me want to help! Thank you so so so much for your work!!Keep going, keep filming!!

    Comment by JO — 9:12 am March 3, 2012 #

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