Monday, June 25, 2007

EPA's Estuary Report Says that Toxins are Still a Problem in the Sound

Terry Backer, who has been the Soundkeeper for two decades, points out another surprise of the EPA's National Estuary Program Coastal Condition report: toxins in the sediments of Long Island Sound are still a serious problem. That's a surprise to me, because 22 years ago, when the Long Island Sound Study was just getting underway, the original focus was on low concentrations of dissolved oxygen and toxic contamination.

But the latter concern was quickly dropped from the study because, officials said at the time, the problem of heavy metals and DDT and PCBs in the Sound's mud and sands was too small and too localized to be a widespread concern. But the Coastal Condition Report says the opposite. Here's what Terry says, in this morning's Stamford Advocate:

"I know there is legacy contamination from a heavy industrial time," Backer said. But "this is screaming at us that there is still something wrong. . . . If you want to stop the insidious corruption of the Sound, then you have to get at the polluted toxic stormwater."

I'm quoted in the story as well, saying that until New York City upgrades its sewage treatment plants, the dissolved oxygen problem isn't going to improve very much.

I also should add that when I wrote about the EPA report last week, I said that the Sound was rated fair. That was clearly wrong and I'm not sure how I made the mistake. But to clarify: the Sound's rating ws poor.

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