Shellfish contamination show new system needed

Re: Shellfish prove risk, Dec. 6 - 12

Scallops show contaminationRe: Shellfish prove risk, Dec. 6 – 12

Some of the most compelling evidence regarding the extent of the sewage contamination of the region’s seabeds can be found by examining Swimming Scallops.  Swimming Scallops are deep dwelling, free swimming bivalve mollusks which filter feed on the ocean floor at depths starting at around 60 feet.  More than 25 years ago, while operating out of Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria, my brother and I helped pioneer the Swimming Scallop by dive fishery. That fishery was soon relocated to the Gulf Islands because the Swimming Scallop beds located off the Victoria waterfront and adjacent areas, including William Head, Albert Head and much of Oak Bay were sample tested and found to contain such high levels of fecal coliform bacteria they were deemed unsafe for human consumption.

Fecal coliforms are present in filter feeding shellfish that have come into contact with fecal matter. The stormwater component of the effluent and surface run off though unwelcome pollutants in the marine environment are not the likely cause of the persistent and widespread fecal contamination of these deep dwelling shellfish. Looking at a Current Atlas for Juan de Fuca Strait provides some insight as to how the Swimming Scallops beds in the upstream and downstream ranges of these outfalls have become so heavily contaminated.

Allan J Crow,East Sooke

 

New system is neededRe: Shellfish prove risk, Dec. 6 – 12

Dr. Peck correctly notes that “Shellfish are banned … due to the pollution of storm drain run-off.” It contains heavy metals, chlorinated hydrocarbons, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and street run-off during storms. Precautionary principle regulation and source point control can end this.

Fecal matter and urine once treated and rendered hygienic become fertilizer for our food. We MUST do this as soon as possible. During treatment, heat and fuel are also produced. Our food now uses fossil fuel-based fertilizer and pesticides, which is unsustainable.

We are currently throwing hundreds of thousands of years of topsoil into the sea — a dubious “carbon privilege” due to the brief petrochemical age. Let’s pressure for a cost-effective land-based treatment system… but let’s build a system.

Larry Wartels,Victoria

 

Dog poop has us hoopedRe: Shellfish prove risk, Dec. 6 – 12

The closure area known informally as Victoria Bight is affected by the contaminated outflow from Victoria and Esquimalt Harbours. Jay Cullen, UVic Chemical Oceanographer spoke about the sanitary shellfish closures in 2009 and said he would be skeptical of any reduction after moving to secondary treatment.

Boundary Bay and Sooke Harbour have complete closures even with no sewage outfall within their area. Even very small secondary sewage plant discharges such as Sidney’s Bazan Bay plant have got considerable closure areas (about 3.3 km2 in that case).

The Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program is tasked with minimizing human health effects due to possibly-unsafe shellfish consumption. Area 19.1 is closed to shellfish harvesting due to bacterial and virus contamination with fecal origin.

The myriad of storm drains along the CRD shoreline are a major contributor to restricted shellfish harvesting within the Greater Victoria area in part due to dog excrement from urban runoff: a source of fecal matter which secondary treatment won’t address. Human waste will also continue to enter the storm drain system from unregistered connections with the sanitary system.

Given the broad definitions of the closure program around all sewage plant discharges, there would be no reduction in shellfish restrictions. Instead, there would a maintenance or even an increase in prohibited areas with any increase in population (pets).

Richard Atwell,Saanich, BC

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