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Filming on Stormwater Project for Regional Nonprofit @ Port of Port Townsend

Posted by Leonard on March, 7, 2014

Spent a day this week filming at the Port of Port Townsend on a storm water project with Seattle based nonprofit PPRC (Pollution Prevention Resource Center). The project is about sharing best management practice regarding removing heavy metals from surface water before it drains into Puget Sound, our regional body of water, and with this site specifically at maritime facilities. Specifically zinc, is present in tires, roofing and siding, gutters, paint, fencing, pressure treated lumber and so many other materials and products found in a typical setting like this. Ironic that the material used to protect against the elements, in this case rust in the marine environment, is the main polluter. So the pollution sources are both the marine vessel maintenance and the on site buildings themselves. It was quite fascinating to learn about the port of Port Townsend being the only remaining DIY port in the state of Washington and the battle to maintain that character and access, which means allowing boat operators to work on their own boats in the facility 24/7. To my surprise that is apparently unheard of in this day and age and the battle to do so is both an importantly held value there, and a top reason for the presence of a high volume of heavy metals in their stormwater that they’re responsible for before it returns to sea. We spent most of the day with the environmental compliance officer whose role it is to police the work being done in the port, and make sure the rules and regulations are being enforced, specifically around things like whether people who are sanding their boats before painting have the proper vacuum attached to their sander to limit the airborne dust, where the toxic chemicals removed from the hulls of ships are draining to, as well as the installation of proper downspouts on the gutters of the port’s warehouse and maintenance buildings.
One sound bite that stuck with me from the interview with our host were the challenges of bridging the two worlds- that he had the credibility of having worked in the maritime trade for many years himself, but enforcing the environmental rules with a lot of salty dogs not too happy to have him around looking over their shoulders and ‘seeing those same guys at community BBQs and events in ‘a county of only 37,000 people’…




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