Hatfield Marine Science Center gets contract to evaluate GP’s outfall effects on fish and other sea life
The Newport City Council awarded a $170,000 contract Monday night to the Hatfield Marine Science Center to ascertain what harm, if any, is being done to sea life off Nye Beach, where the Toledo Georgia Pacific plant’s outfall line mixes its effluent with the ocean.
It’s said that GP dumps over 11 million gallons a day of effluent as a by-product of making paper and boxes at their facility. Newport City Councilors had earlier put a task force of citizens together to create a framework for an analysis of the effects, if any, that the effluent is having on sea life nearly a mile offshore from Nye Beach. That’s where where the effluent pipe uses underwater sprayers to ensure wide dispersement of the effluent.
GP’s recently released study by internationally renown CH2MHill gave a detailed accounting of the sea floor and sea life living near the outfall’s mouth. The study concluded that the effluent appears to be having no substantial harmful effects on either. After reviewing the report, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality came to a similar conclusion adding that GP is required to provide ongoing detailed analyses of the chemical composition of the effluent as it leaves the plant in Toledo bound for the sea.
However, a skeptical group, led by the Surfrider Foundation remained unconvinced saying they know that there are harmful heavy metals in the effluent which could have bad effects for organisms living in the sea floor as well as for sea life that feed on them. They convinced the Newport City Council to commission a citizens task force to investigate. The task force recommended to the city council Monday night that they hire HMSC to take samples of sea life that live primarily in the area of the outfall effluent. A representative from HMSC said they would do that but added they doubted they would need to duplicate CH2MHill’s study of the sea floor and what’s in it. They said CH2MHill is a world wide engineering firm and their reputation is quite good.
The HMSC representative said they would gather samples of fish, crabs, and other sea life near the outfall and provide their comprehensive analysis of what they found to the city council early next year. Surfrider’s Charlie Plybon asked that HMSC sample as many organisms as possible and the HMSC staffer said they would.