November 10, 2007

Sludge in the bay and at Aquatic Park

Mulch piles along Aquatic Park shoreline, July 2007 It has been raining since noon. The coastal prairie species planted along the Ohlone Greenway today are welcoming the rain, but not the fish and birds that use Aquatic Park. The City of Berkeley Public Works Department, according to the Berkeley Daily Planet, dumped dredged sludge in a prime feeding area along the park's shoreline. In an interview, Mark Liolios of EGRET (Aquatic Park Environmental Greening, Education, and Restoration Team) stated that "as soon as the rains come the spoils will wash down and any toxic chemicals in it will kill the fish and the birds that feed on it." Compare photographs of the shoreline this summer versus its current condition. With regards to this week's oil spill in the bay, waterfowl have been killed and endangered according to reports by the San Francisco Chronicle. The latest wildlife affected by the spill: crabs; crabbers have delayed the start of the season. Both of these environmental hazards were created by human error. In the case of the oil spill, the Coast Guard concluded that "There were skilled enough individuals on board [the container] ship. They didn't carry out their missions correctly" (AP article carried by The Saratogian). In Berkeley, a public works project manager claims he did not need a permit for dumping the sludge per a conversation with the State Water Resources Board, but the SWRB told the Daily Planet that "[Public Works] definitely should have asked us first." The rain is expected to continue through the night.

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