After the JIDA plan to bring raw sewage from tankers and deposit it in town made its rounds, Heinz Sommer and Janet Sturgis each sent in some fine data and analysis. We thought it was important information that needed to be out there, and that both works complemented each other, so here it is:
To the decision makers of Northampton County and the town of Cape Charles!
Subject: Industrial maritime sewage brought to Cape Charles.
Before we spend any more useless activities, energy, thoughts and money on this topic, I urgently request that medical- bacteriological and virological disease professionals get contacted and study this subject thoroughly. This study can be done by universities, and/or research centers as well as government institutions (e.g. The Department of Disease Control) – at no cost to Local Taxpayers –
The vessels that will be mooring outside of Cape Charles, -and pumped out services are provided-, are coming from all parts of the world.
This raises the following questions:
1. Can the sewage before it is transported to Cape Charles be undoubtedly verified as non-toxic?
2. Does the treatment technique used in Cape Charles Treatment Plant eliminate all harmful or questionable substances?
3. Are there any emergency plans in place if there is an accident, in the chain of activities? (Analyzing, Pumping, Transporting, Unloading, Handling of the Sewage)
4. Does the Taxpayer have to carry the cost of hiring highly paid specialists?
to handle these activities, including overhead expenses like insurance, emergency clean up equipment etc.?
We do not need another case, where profits are privatized and expenses are socialized.
The citizens of Northampton Co. may not be aware, that the freighters at the anchorage off Cape Charles may legally discharge sewage that has been “treated” by on-board sewage remediation systems. This may be, nothing more than removing some solids and chlorinating effluent before discharge overboard. There are parameters for fecal coliform, used as an indicator, but nutrient content is not addressed. There are no regulations covering the discharge of grey water from these vessels. Federal law covering these practices:
40 cfr part140. The Coast Guard is responsible for enforcement.
The only way to save our beaches and shellfish industry, from this looming threat, is to petition the EPA to designate these and the waters adjacent, as an official “no discharge zone”. This will require some effort, as there are only three in the sate of Virginia; Smith Mountain Lake, Middlesex, and Lynnhaven systems. We must prove the need (I suspect VIMS and VDH would provide some necessary expertise, stats and measurements) and show that there are sufficient facilities to handle the waste. The proposed marine pump and haul barge would accommodate that need, one would think.
I therefore call on the Northampton Co. Board of Supervisors to sanction and support a citizens’ petition to the EPA, to designate the new anchorage and surrounding waters, a “no discharge zone”.
I am willing to serve, if a citizens’ committee is formed for this purpose. There have been proposals in the past, to designate the entire Bay a no discharge zone, but due to shipping and other interests, this large a task is not realistic at this time.