Habitat Restoration

creosoteDNR restoration project will improve habitat, public safety in marine waters in eastern Jefferson County. Starting in early November, a large restoration project to improve habitat and public safety will take place in the marine waters in eastern Jefferson County.

For the next few months, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will remove hundreds of old, toxic, creosote-treated pilings and several thousand square feet of overwater structures. The work will occur at seven sites from Port Townsend Channel southward to Point Whitney in Hood Canal.

“DNR’s Creosote Removal Program has led the effort to remove toxic pilings, structures and debris from Washington’s waterways,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, who oversees DNR. “This work is vital to restoring Puget Sound. The removal of creosote-treated pilings in Jefferson County is one of DNR’s largest efforts to date and will greatly contribute to the health of the Sound.”

Most of the removal sites provide habitat for forage fish and the migrating juvenile salmon that feed on them. The old pilings and structures contain creosote, a toxic mix of chemicals containing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), historically used to prevent wood decay and insect infestations. Creosote continues to leach into Washington waters well beyond the useful lifespan of these pilings and structures. Studies show that creosote exposure in marine species cause higher mortality rates, reduced growth, and altered immune function.

Old pilings and structures also create public safety hazards. Many have broken apart, and their remnants—often unseen just below the water—can damage boats. The broken-off debris floats around the Sound and washes up on beaches, where its poses a threat to the health of people, fish and wildlife.

Removal schedule for creosote-treated pilings and structures*
Port Townsend Channel. Removing about seven pilings and pile “stubs” (remnants). Estimated removal dates: November 4 - 7.
South Oak Bay. Removing two “dolphins” and about seven pilings. (Dolphins are a group of pilings placed close together and connected above the water level.) Estimated removal date: November 8.
Port Ludlow Bay. Removing about 41 pilings. Estimated removal dates: November 9 - 12.
Southpoint Ferry Dock and vicinity. Removing about 365 pilings, the 4,200-square-foot ferry dock, the 400-square-foot timber trestle and other structures. Estimated removal dates: November 13 - December 7.
Point Whitney. Removing about 25 pilings. Estimated removal date: December 9.
Dabob Bay. Removing about six pilings. Estimated removal date: December 10.
Quilcene Bay. Removing about 402 pilings. Estimated removal dates: December 11 – January 8, 2014.

* The removal schedule is tentative and subject to change due to weather and other conditions.

The contractor for this restoration project is Blackwater Marine, LLC, of Kirkland. The company will remove the pilings and structures in a manner that protects water quality and habitat as the pilings are extracted. For example, the project will use a vibratory hammer that loosens and breaks up any sediments that have bonded to the submerged piling, to ensure that the entire piling comes out without breaking.

The estimated cost of the project is $588,000. Funding comes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under a Puget Sound Ecosystem Restoration and Protection Cooperative Agreement grant with the Washington Department of Ecology.

More information about this restoration project - HERE.

Map of removal sites (PDF)

About DNR’s Creosote Removal Program DNR is leading the removal of creosote and other toxic debris throughout Puget Sound, which is part of the larger effort to clean up toxic contamination under the Puget Sound Action Agenda. Since 2004, DNR’s Creosote Removal Program has worked with local and government partners to remove creosote debris, pilings and structures located on or adjacent to state-owned aquatic lands throughout Puget Sound. DNR is working toward a goal of removing 15,000 creosote-treated pilings by 2017.

From 2004 through February 2013, DNR removed more than 10,000 pilings as well as 213,000 square feet of overwater structures, such as docks and piers, and more than 2,700 tons of treated beach debris throughout Puget Sound. Once this current removal project is complete, DNR will have removed approximately 2,714 piles and 36,987 square feet of overwater structure in Jefferson county alone.

October 29, 2013/DNR

IMAGE/Creosote-debris removal project in the San Juan Islands. Photo: DNR