Letters to the Editor

Response to the guest column 'Verdict is in: Human impact affects our shorelines'

On Nov. 24, The Journal of the San Juan Islands published an opinion column entitled "Verdict Is In: Human Impact Effects [sic] Our Shorelines." I disagree with Dr. Landau's opinions.

While unintentional spills may occur, runoff from construction sites does not contain toxic chemicals, and land buffers do not break down "many chemicals into less toxic forms."

Recently, the Common Sense Alliance commissioned an environmental study to evaluate soil and surface water along shorelines at various locations on San Juan Island. Four "developed," and four "undeveloped," single-family residential sites were evaluated, and samples were taken near Lawson Lake in the vicinity of an active, light industrial concrete batch facility and an abandoned saw mill. The environmental study disproves Dr. Landau's opinions.

At each residential site, a soil sample was obtained between the residence and shoreline below the vegetative strata. Strict standard sampling protocols consistent with EPA methods were followed. Each soil sample was tested for pesticides, herbicides, phthalates, sulfides, and heavy metals.

At Lawson Lake, one soil sample was obtained between the shoreline and the batch plant, and two water samples were obtained, one near the batch plant and one near the shore. The water and soils were analyzed for gasoline, diesel, calcium sulfate, and heavy metals.

Three residential shoreline soil samples are slightly above the natural background for zinc, but well below the Western Washington compliance threshold of two times background. All of the other sample results are well within the background ranges for these constituents. Four San Juan Island shoreline soil samples were below the laboratory detection limits for the herbicide MCPP including two undeveloped sites.

These test results indicate that pesticides, phthalates, and heavy metals are not emanating from the tested residential sites onto shoreline and critical areas. This is also true for petroleum-related samples at the industrial operations adjacent to Lawson Lake. Absent a positive report on geologic hazards on vacant parcels, the environmental report commissioned by CSA clearly demonstrates negligible environmental impact by residences. CSA asks, where is the problem?

The reasons stated by Dr. Landau relating to the negative impacts for building along shorelines are inaccurate or unrelated to residential construction.

Steve Belluomini
San Juan Island

— Stephen Belluomini is a State of Washington licensed geologist. Thirty-four years of his professional career have been devoted to extensive hazardous substances cleanup for soil and groundwater, water resources infrastructure and conveyance, and consulting in private industry. He is a full-time resident of San Juan Island.

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