Group works to remove toxic logs from Seattle beach

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on November 3, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 3 at 6:01 PM

SEATTLE - Nobody really knows when it was deposited by the waves of Puget Sound, but, for the record, the cluster of old pilings was withdrawn from Myrtle Edwards park on Wednesday at mid morning.

It's one more transaction in an endless give and take of a Puget Sound menace.

"We expect to get 21 tons of creosote, which is a petroleum product, soaked lumber off the beach today," said Chris Wilke, Executive Director, Puget Soundkeeper.

The waves spit the stuff up all over Puget Sound, and Myrtle Edwards Park seems to be a favorite target. With more than a century of creosote production and use, the supply is unlimited.

For nearly 100 years, creosote has been used as a wood perservative all throughout Puget Sound and the world. The problem is, we now know it comes with some side effects.

"It's highly toxic, it's a known carcinogen. And it works its way up the food chain. It's a persistent chemical that will be with us for decades if we don't get it off the beach now," said Wilke.

Even very old logs can act as powerful time-release capsules of contamination.

"A full sized log can have up to 60 gallons of creosote in it," said Wilke.

The Puget Soundkeeper Alliance has adopted Myrtle Edwards and hopes to add to the more than 2,000 tons of creosote debris removed from Puget Sound over the last six years, and it's just getting started.

By the time they are done this sweep, the process will have already begun again at the other end of the beach.

The Department of Natural Resources estimates there are tens of thousands of creosote pilings in Puget Sound. And many more are holding up existing docks and piers.

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