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Authorities in King County (Seattle), Washington are investigating why two large sewage treatment plants failed late last week, causing the release of approximately 4 million gallons of untreated sewage into Puget Sound and forcing the closure of the Sound for swimming and fishing at several popular beaches over the weekend. The discharges occurred when the plants temporarily lost power and their back up power supplies did not work either. Most of the beaches will re-open for swimming today.
Why This Matters: Sewage overflows into lakes, rivers and coastal waters are happening all too often now – thousands of them across the U.S according to a recent report. Strong storms and flash flooding are overwhelming many water treatment systems — we have seen that happen in the midwestern floods this spring, in Washington, D.C, and now Seattle, among others. This kind of pollutions is serious. Coming into contact with untreated sewage can cause serious illnesses including gastroenteritis, skin rashes, and upper respiratory infections, and children and the elderly may be especially vulnerable to such waterborne illnesses. Violations for spills like this one, particularly when they are part of a pattern, must be enforced — industry must not think spills like this one are just part of the cost of doing business.
History of Sewage Violations
One of the facilities, the West Point plant, had been the site of a massive spill in 2017 when nearly 250 million gallons of sewage and untreated stormwater poured into Puget Sound.
“Heavy rains may have contributed to that … Often times, there might be a sewer overflow whenever there’s rain. That will sometimes cause a beach closure,” Camille St. Onge, spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Ecology, told the Seattle Times. “The heavy rains wash a lot of the stormwater, which can carry fecal bacteria, down to the shoreline … and then that raises bacteria levels.”
Hundreds of citizens will fan out across the nation’s capital next week to meet with lawmakers in what’s projected to be the largest ocean lobby effort in US history. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they will meet with Biden administration officials, federal agencies, and members of Congress for a nonpartisan Ocean Climate Action Hill Day.
Why It Matters: As the Biden administration and the Congress begin to debate what’s infrastructure and therefore within the American Jobs Plan, the blue economy needs to be front and center in it.
The Evergiven is no longer stuck in the Suez Canal, but world shipping is hardly back to normal. In just six days, the massive container ship held up almost $60 billion in global trade. Supply chains across the world are delayed and off schedule, and the incident has economists and maritime experts across the globe reevaluating the efficacy of the current shipping economy.
Why this Matters: The pandemic has rocketed demand for goods (and vaccines) to all-time highs, but bottlenecks at many major ports and slow shipping speed could slow the global economy just as it begins to recover from COVID-19.
This explosive new documentary film about the fragile state of the ocean is grabbing attention – it even made the British edition of Vogue Magazine. In the last week since its release, it has vaulted into the top ten most-streamed films on Netflix. It has also caused quite a stir — you can read more […]
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