Archive for 10/28/2011

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Susanne Rust – 

Although famous for conservation and its sustainable and environmentally friendly practices, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is also one of the largest wastewater dischargers in the protected Pacific Grove area of the bay.

Last week, the State Water Resources Control Board exempted the aquarium from a state ban on dumping wastewater in a marine protected zone.

The board decided the aquarium’s conservation and public education benefits far outweigh any dangers posed by the millions of gallons of treated fish, bird and mammal waste it dumps back into the bay.

“The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s beneficial uses include extensive public outreach and education on the marine environment, basic water quality research, and research to determine the needs and improve the quality of existence for marine life,” said David Clegern, a spokesman for the water board.

According to a report released by the board earlier this year, the aquarium takes in about 1,400 gallons of seawater a minute, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. It then discharges more than 2 million gallons a day. The system is open, meaning seawater is pumped in and discharged continually.

The board acknowledges the discharge does contain waste, albeit “at very low levels.” The only exceptions noted were copper in one seawater sample and chlorine in others.

Copper is known to be harmful to marine organisms, damaging creatures’ gills, livers, kidneys and nervous systems. Chlorine can be lethal to many organisms, including salmon and oysters, at low levels.

“None of the seawater samples exhibited toxicity effects,” the report’s authors wrote. However, storm water runoff from the aquarium contained waste and in some cases exceeded state standards.

Full story…

Lara Yamada –

It could be the first official report of tsunami debris from Japan nearing Hawaii.

A new report coming from a Russian ship have UH researchers changing their predictions.

Since the March 11th earthquake and tsunami, researchers have been predicting it would take about two years for the debris from Japan to hit Hawaii’s west-facing beaches.

We have a rough estimate of 5 to 20 million tons of debris coming from Japan,” said UH computer programming researcher Jan Hafner.

An average of 10 million tons of debris, the same amount released into the north Pacific basin in one year, was dislodged and set adrift in one day.

Hawaii is just in the path,” said Hafner.   Since the disaster, Hafner has been watching and calculating that wave of debris on a specialized computer program that follows and analyzes the currents.

In September, he got a chance to meet with Russian senior researcher Nikolai Maximenko and his crew on the STS Pallada.

The crew was here training on ocean currents, docked in Honolulu, and on their way back home. Hafner knew they could help.

Their path back to Russia crossed exactly across the projected field of the debris.   Soon after passing the Midway Islands on Sept. 22, they hit the edge of the tsunami debris.

They saw some pieces of furniture, some appliances, anything that can float, and they picked up a fishing boat,” said Hafner.

It was a 20-foot fishing boat with the word “Fukushima” on it. That’s actually our first confirmed report of tsunami debris,” said Hafner.  

There was more news that would force Hafner to change his predictions.

Full story…