Hansville, Washington Aug 02, 2012

On July 26, 2012, Puget Soundkeeper’s pollution hotline buzzed with a report from a community member that there was a huge refrigerator-sized chunk of solid foam on a private community beach on Hood Canal that was slowly breaking off into tiny pieces and washing away. After determining that they could not remove the large piece of debris by themselves, they contacted Puget Soundkeeper for help. The caller had taken the Puget Soundkeeper’s Soundkeeper Volunteer Training a few years prior, and knew about the value of reporting pollution to protect our waterways.

Immediately, Soundkeeper responded by contacting local junk removal businesses to gauge that could accomplish the job in a timely and environmentally responsible manner. All Around Junk Removal’s Brandon Schroeder, located in Bremerton, was quick to respond and removed the debris early in the morning two days later, taking great pains to pick up every last piece he could no matter how small and disposing of it at Waste Management’s Olympic View Transfer Station, Due to the nature of polystyrene foam, without immediate action tiny particles of would have spread out over Hood Canal, contributing to pollution in the area and posing a risk to wildlife.

Polystyrene, also known by the trade name Styrofoam, is a petroleum-based plastic that is now considered a major component of marine debris. Like nearly all plastic, it never biodegrades and instead breaks into smaller and smaller particles of synthetic debris that pose serious risks to our marine environment and ultimately human health. A piece of debris this size could result in hundreds of thousands of these floating particles. After breaking up, clean up would be impossible. Through ingestion by fish or other marine animals, small particles can fill up animal stomachs causing them to stop feeding and eventually starve. Even smaller, microplastics absorb other pollutants in the water up to a million times the background concentration and are actually beginning to accumulate up the food chain – alarming news for a population that values its marine life and local seafood.

“This story is an example of how a concerned individual, a local business and a grassroots organization can work together to prevent pollution to Puget Sound”, said Puget Soundkeeper and Executive Director Chris Wilke.

People who see pollution in the water, along Puget Sound shorelines, or any waterways in Washington, can respond by calling Puget Soundkeeper at 1-800-42PUGET. Concerned individuals should be prepared to provide the following information: reporting party, contact phone number, material spilled, quantity, precise location, company name (if any), resource damage, weather conditions and cleanup status.

The mission of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance is to protect and preserve the waters of Puget Sound by monitoring cleaning up and preventing pollution. As a locally-licensed Waterkeeper Alliance organization, Soundkeeper uses several techniques to achieve its mission including: patrolling and monitoring from the water every week; using the power granted to communities and individuals to enforce the provisions of the Clean Water Act; and actively engaging the community in solutions that protect water quality through beach and water cleanups and through award-winning business assistance programs like EnviroStars and the Clean Marina Washington program. On September 15, 2012, Soundkeeper will lead local participation in Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Day, the largest environmental volunteer effort in the world. More information at