On behalf of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, West Seattle’s “Diver Laura” James sends word of a major creosote cleanup planned all day tomorrow (Monday, June 24) on the beach at Lincoln Park, 8 am-5 pm. Soundkeeper is a partner in the cleanup “with the Department of Natural Resources, Seattle Parks & Recreation, and Restoration Logistics, with funding from the Department of Fish & Wildlife,” according to the official announcement, which continues:
Creosote (is) a toxic potion of chemicals created by the distillation of tar. It is commonly used to preserve and waterproof the wood used for dock pilings, telephone poles, and fence posts. Unfortunately, many of these creosote pilings wash up on beaches where they mix with regular drift wood. While in the water, creosote leaches into the marine environment and mixes with sediments where it can enter the food chain. On the beach, creosote can seep out and affect both wildlife and human health.
Creosote is a phototoxin, meaning it becomes more toxic when exposed to sunlight and higher ambient temperatures. It is also present in high amounts, at approximately 7 pounds per cubic foot of wood. Creosote contains toxic PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. PAHs are known carcinogens and are associated with other human health risks as well. (The removal project is intended) to get creosote-treated lumber out of the environment, away from beachgoers, and dispose of it properly in a landfill.
If you encounter creosote treated lumber on a beach near you, we want to hear about it! Call our pollution hotline 1-800-42-PUGET or fill a pollution report out online. Your efforts will help us direct future cleanup projects. However, it is important to be careful- avoid contact with treated logs whenever possible and always wash skin exposed to creosote with soap and water.
Parkgoers, be forewarned – tomorrow’s removal work will include “a work crew with heavy machinery and hard hats removing all the big creosote logs,” Laura adds.