West Seattle, Washington
(Right-center, Doug Marsano from KC Wastewater Treatment District, talking with residents)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The latter is what some Beach Drive-area residents say they’re still dealing with, and some find it difficult to believe it’s just rotting sea lettuce. So they’ve been talking to the King County Wastewater Treatment Division, which sent reps out Wednesday afternoon to talk with neighbors.
KCWTD took the complaints seriously enough to run tests in its system, looking for a telltale gas that would be present if something was getting out of the system and into the air. They didn’t find it, they told the neighbors:
The tests were conducted by King County odor investigators using gauges installed inside four manholes near your homes that detect the presence of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas. H2S gas smells like rotten eggs and is usually what causes people to notice odors coming from the sewer. If the sewer system was creating odors, the gauges would detect extended periods of time when heavy concentrations of H2S were present in the manhole that could escape to the environment.
Testing began on Thursday, September 24 and continued through Sunday, September 27. County odor investigators reviewed data from the gauges Monday, September 28. There are no indications that increased levels of H2S gas were present at any of the four manholes during the four-day testing period.
That wasn’t much consolation – some say the stink is worse than anything they’ve experienced in years, even decades along/near the shore. “It was unbearable this morning,” said one neighbor.
Joining KCWTD community liaison Doug Marsano for the gathering along the sidewalk across from Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook, in the late afternoon sunshine, was marine biologist Kim Stark, who works on water-quality issues with the county Department of Natural Resources.
She said this area’s not alone in the smelly siege – areas north of Elliott Bay have been dealing with it too, including Carkeek.
While skeptical neighbors wondered how it could continue through high tides and low, stormy weather and sunshine, Stark explained that the water is warmer this year, and that’s fueled the sea lettuce’s growth.
It’s not just pieces of sea lettuce on the shore, she added – mats of decaying sea lettuce, kelp, and other marine matter have been floating offshore, creating literal hotbeds of odor generation.
So what can we do about it? one neighbor asked.
Right now, the county reps said, not much. State permits would be needed to remove what’s rotting. And those would take a while. They mentioned the community of Dumas Bay in South King County, where the city of Federal Way got involved. And, as Beach Drive Blog (whose owners were also at the meeting) reminded readers, Fauntleroy Cove dealt with this for years, too, though we haven’t heard much lately.
In the WSB archives, we found a 2008 mention of a company that was expecting to remove sea lettuce in Fauntleroy and Dumas, to turn into biofuels.
(Published on WSB, September 2008: State Ecology Department photo of test sea-lettuce removal in Dumas Bay)
Our further research revealed that the company, Blue Marble, has long since changed its focus and moved to Montana, so it’s not an option now.
The neighbors vowed to organize and see what they can do about ensuring removal is an option next year – researching and applying for permits, for starters. In the short run, cooler weather – and most importantly, cooler water – seems to be their main hope of relief from the nose-wrinkling nuisance, but that might take another month.
We’ve heard from a few people reporting an explosion of some type shaking them up in eastern West Seattle – particularly Riverview – early this morning. Thanks to Jeff for pointing out a specific call on the Seattle Fire 911 log – 500 South Myrtle (map), on the east shore of the Duwamish River, directly east of Riverview (and South Park), which cross-references to Seattle Boiler Works, had a short-lived SFD response for a “minor explosion” just before 7 am. We haven’t yet reached SFD to ask about injuries, but the call was closed out (meaning emergency personnel all left) in less than an hour.
(Four WS-relevant views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
No incidents so far this morning, in West Seattle or on the primary outbound routes. But we do have a bus-trip cancellation:
Transit Alert – Route 57 to downtown Seattle due to leave 44th Av SW & SW Alaska St at 7:06 AM will not operate this morning.
— King County Metro (@kcmetrobus) October 1, 2015
Our followup with Metro, originally scheduled for last Thursday but postponed because of the Aurora Bridge crash, is now set for today – any specific questions or observations, please comment or e-mail us – thank you. By the way, video of the City Council meeting at which the cancellations were discussed is finally up, here.
BRIDGE WORK THIS WEEKEND: If you missed the announcement – road repair following Seattle Public Utilities sewer work is scheduled to start 7 pm Friday and continue through Sunday, closing the inside lane in each direction on the Fauntleroy end of the bridge.
8:52 AM NOTE – TRAFFIC TALK: So far, still no incidents. So we’re mentioning that a participant in the WSB Forums has opened a general “traffic talk” topic, if you’re looking for a place to discuss (and/or vent) not tied to a daily issue/incident – find it here.