In their march for ever larger profits the geoduck shellfish industry wants to move from plastic PVC tubing to plastic black mesh tubing. Several tons per acre of PVC tubing was bad enough. The PVC manufacturing process and the recycling process produced extremely toxic by-products. And plastic PVC tubing was never intended for use in marine environments like Puget Sound. So there is no way of knowing how much toxic material has already been released from PVC pipe.
And the shellfish industry doesn’t seem to care. These are the same folks who thought bee-killing pesticides were fine to spray into Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor.
Now the shellfish industry wants to move to a different type of plastic mesh tubing made with High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) imported from China. They hope to reduce litter on the beaches and to make them less of an eyesore.
But is HDPE safe?
It turns out that the National Institutes for Health is concerned about HDPE and other plastics leaching Estrogenic Activators (EAs) into the food chain. These are the kinds of chemicals that have raised so much concern around BPA in plastics. With a geoduck farm using between 40,000 and 50,000 tubes per acre, we are talking about a serious amount of HDPE plastic in Puget Sound. Some of the proposed farms like the ones at Dungeness Spit and Burley Lagoon are around 25 acres or more. This means millions of tubes in repeating cycles of planting!
Not only did the NIH study show concerns about HDPE, there are two things that increase the release of Estrogenic Activators:
That’s right, salt water and sunlight. Sound like Puget Sound?
You can read the NIH study here:
Surely our state agencies will protect us from this potential chemical hazard, right? Don’t count on it. Our tone-deaf Department of Ecology was marching in lock-step with the industry around the bee-killing Imidacloprid insecticide. They still approve the use of the herbicide Imazamox in Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor (enjoy those oysters, you shellfish gourmets!) They probably won’t put any attention on this issue and just rubber-stamp the approval. If ever there was a case of regulatory capture our Department of Ecology is it. A poster child for a Harvard Business review study!
The shellfish industry will march us all right over this cliff. HDPE plastics in Puget Sound - what’s one more toxic shock to a marine environment already in trouble? The shellfish industry pretends to be environmentally conscious, but that is just a slight-of-hand to distract you so they can get to those big profits.
There is nothing natural about a geoduck farm and they are a threat to the environment of Puget Sound.