Monday, July 30, 2012

07/30/2012 - Bayou La Batre Puts BP to Shame

I drove to Dauphin Island for a sunrise launch but the winds were blowing so neither the north or south side was protected from the wind. Rather than paddle in 1-2 foot waves and get wet, the Nature Gods led me over to the sheltered waters of Bayou La Batre. Holy Mackerel - Bayou La Batre is the worst place in Mobile County that I have ever paddled and the trash is thicker every time I paddle there. Here are photos from today's reality check.

Header image - shoreline trash in your Seafood Capital of Alabama. Enjoy eating your Petroleum glazed seafood. What other chemicals are in your seafood that you don't know about?

Bayou La Trash (Seafood Capital of Alabama) puts BP to shame when it comes to caring for the environment. At least BP is paying someone to remove their pollution. Bayou La Batre ignores their pollution. Enjoy your Alabama Seafood that may have spawned around the polluted waters of Bayou La Batre.

The petroleum fumes were so dense today it made me nauseous. Seriously, I felt the need to throw up but couldn't. I had to turn around and get out of there cutting the paddle short.

Even though there was a petroleum sheen visible at the boat ramp before I launched, it was a thicker petroleum sheen 3-4 miles upstream that caused me to turn around.

This photo says it all - the shoreline of Bayou La Batre is full of CRAP, most of it PLASTIC.

This being a working bayou with plenty of ship building activity in progress, some of the crap rusting in containers along the shoreline is poisonous.

his being a working bayou with plenty of ship building activity in progress, some of the crap rusting in containers along the shoreline is poisonous.

Leftover BP oil boom pom-poms still adorn the shoreline in Bayou La Batre. The boom which used to be the solution to the oil pollution, is now just the pollution.

Crabs on rotting cardboard.

A sunken boat's innards are free to float away.

Oil boom to catch escaping oil from the sunken boat was installed across the entire berthing area but the boom had a big gap under the dock allowing oil to go around the boom. Duh...

The shoreline trash of Bayou La Batre which seemingly never gets removed, gets denser and denser. You have to see it in person to believe it. 

Instead of Bayou La Batre being a tourist destination for vacationers who want to rent kayaks, it is a garbage and petroleum dump in which no kayak outfitter would associate themselves with.

The further upstream you go, the shoreline load of trash does decrease but shoreline trash was still easy to find 4 miles upstream.

The further upstream you go, the shoreline load of trash does decrease but shoreline trash was still easy to find 4 miles upstream.

Most of the shoreline trash in Bayou La Batre is visible because it floats and can be seen. 

What we should be worried about is what is beneath the water because some garbage sinks. Boat operators stand a good chance at getting rope tangled up in their props if they go near the shoreline.

Trash piled on the docks here included loose plastic bottles. There is always a sheen on the surface of the water in this area.

I saw six different petroleum sheens today and one was so large I called the National Response Center who in turn calls the nearest Coast Guard Hazmat Response Center who in turn calls me. I told the Coast Guard where the spill was. I tracked down the source of the petroleum to a boat that was pumping out fluids from several holes in the hull - one was probably bilge waste. Whether the Coast Guard responded or not I don't know. The Coast Guard doesn't do much about rainbow sheens. They usually let the sun evaporate the spill. The criminal releasing the petroleum into the water should have been issued a big fine for polluting the environment. Authorities go to great length to contain petroleum spills on the interstates after wrecks, so why don't authorities go to great lengths to contain petroleum spills in the water?

Bayou La Batre is a public waterway and almost every time I have kayaked in it I've ended up having to paddle through petroleum and that indicates a serious underlying problem of watershed mismanagement or lack of any watershed management. If petroleum is so easy to find on the water in Bayou La Batre, why isn't ADEM fining the City of Bayou La Batre for violations of the Clean Water Act? Mobile County values are decaying at an alarming rate. Mobile County watershed and estuary managers are asleep at the desk. It is time for them to get out in a kayak and get a whiff of petroleum to wake their ass up so they can see the serious pollution in Bayou La Trash.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

07/28/2012 - Garrows Bend - 10 miles of Litter makes me Bitter

Launch: Arlington Park (Stupidest kayak launch ramp design ever. Even carrying the kayak on my shoulder it was still banging on the ramp railing.)
Launch Cost: FREE.
Destination: Garrows Bend
Distance: 10-11 miles (round trip).
Trip Rating: Moderate due to distance.
Time Paddling: 4 hours
Weather: Sunny, humid and hot. Winds 0-10 out of the West. Current negligible. High tide.
GPS Track: To view or download the GPS track of this trip, Click Here.

Header image. The backwaters of Garrows Bend contain a wealth of bird rookeries. If you can muster the courage to paddle by all the garbage and ignore it, this is what you could see. I can't ignore the plastic crap, especially since the City of Mobile Public Works does not have a single person removing the litter. Instead of having a top notch eco-tourism destination, Mobile has yet another illegal garbage dump that I would be embarrassed to invite anyone to paddle in.

Sunrise as seen 1/4 mile east of AirBus - shoreline filled with trash. For the next four hours all I saw was garbage. Welcome to Mobile's southwest urban waterway where like Three Mile Creek and Dog River, no one removes the storm water litter. Enjoy your polluted Alabama Seafood.

A Coast Guard representative hollered at me not to take photos of Coast Guard boats. Why doesn't the Coast Guard remove the litter from their own shoreline instead of harassing a kayaker taking a photo of the sunrise? There are photos plastered all over the internet of Barbara Mabrity vessel and this one shows way less detail than those already online. One of the Coast Guard's missions is Marine Environmental Protection. Sector Mobile - allowing pollution to rot on your own shorelines indicates a mission failure.

The backwaters of Garrows Bend are a birder's paradise. Today's paddle was ruined though because no matter where I was along the 10 miles of shoreline in the area, there was litter visible. Let me put it this way, kayaking in Garrows Bend for me is like trying to eat in a restaurant when there is vomit on all the surrounding tables. Yucko! The garbage ruins nature's ambiance. Yucko! Guess I'll wait another three years before kayaking here again.

A heron.

The berm that was being constructed over three years ago is finished, lined with large rocks and is already filling up with plastic garbage.

I simply could not enjoy bird watching today due to trash visible along every shoreline the entire trip.

Our material world of convenience containers is becoming part of our water, including all those Chinese toys with lead paint.

Upper Garrows Bend.

Most of the properties in the Garrows Bend area belong to the Coast Guard, the Airport Authority, the State of Alabama, Alabama State Docks, and the Mobile City Water and Sewer. Clean your shorelines!

Upper Garrows Bend.

I saw five abandoned river channel marker buoys along Garrows Bend all no more than 1.5 miles away from the Coast Guard base. Tend your buoys US Coast Guard!

What has changed since last kayaking this area three years ago is the staggering number of Styrofoam Noodles that fishermen abandon which end up on the shoreline. In some places the Styrofoam Noodles outnumbered plastic bottles. All you need is a state fishing license to pollute legally.

It didn't matter where I was, both on open waters or in back creeks, there was trash on the shorelines.

It didn't matter where I was, both on open waters or in back creeks, there was trash on the shorelines.

There are three urban ditches feeding into Garrows Bend. All of them come from near Interstate I-10. The unnamed ditch between McPhillips and Armstrong World was polluted with plastic three years ago. No change in three years.

This is the Brookley 6th Street ditch less than 1/4 mile from AirBus. Instead of being able to enjoy a 1/2 mile long walking trail along a pristine drainage creek just north of AirBus, AirBus employees get a garbage dump drainage ditch.

When it comes to the pollution along the shoreline of Mobile Bay, where is Mobile Baykeeper? They must be too busy throwing another fundraising party to "Save Mobile Bay." I'd like to see Baykeeper's stats: Hours partying vs Hours removing pollution and Money spent cleaning vs Money spent fundraising. While Mobile Baykeeper parties, here is something for leaders think about: For a Coastal Cleanup Event to be anywhere near effective removing trash from Mobile Bay's shoreline (approx 125 miles) with the density level of pollution currently lining Mobile Bay, there needs to be about 18,300 volunteers each filling 6 bags of trash. Each volunteer would clean about 36 feet of shoreline in four hours. How polluted does the shoreline need to be before public works officials deem it wise to employ someone to begin removing the pollution? I suggest calling in the National Guard to clean up this National Disaster. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

07/21/2012 - Three Mile Creek Watershed

Header Image. The Mobile City Council just approved an almost $500,000 stormwater management contract with the Mobile Group. Do you think Mobile Group is going to use any of that money to start removing this garbage? Does that mean $500,000 of taxpayer money was spent and the area waterways will STILL be full of trash? That ought impress ADEM.

I had to endure a light 20 minute sprinkle on this humid morning.

No sunrise this morning but later in the morning the sun tried to come out.

There are still herons hatching in the rookery.

This is an older juvenile blue heron with a funny looking hair-do.

There were plenty of large spiders hanging out in the web.

A crab waves its claw in surrender to the human garbage.

Speaking of garbage, today's trip was to see if anyone has removed any of the garbage along the City of Mobile property in Maple Street Canal. No change.

Garbage is not only floating on the water, it is also littering adjacent properties, densely! Since this is the public's garbage, the public needs to be taxed so the City can afford to send a crew out to clean up the public solid waste because this waterway is not an approved landfill.

The EPA, ADEM, the County of Mobile and the City of Mobile can play their little word games all they want. "Piles of litter aren't illegal dumps." Okay, if you say so. "I can't get my 42 foot yacht up One Mile Creek therefore it isn't a navigable waterway therefore I am not responsible for maintaining it." Okay, if you say so. "Floatables are not part of our NPDES permit." Okay, if you say so. "We can't respond to complaints if not provided with a physical address." Okay, if you say so. Look at photo 8 again. If this isn't pollution, what is? There are consequences to all actions including not keeping area waterways free of garbage. That is why there are Environmental Lawyers.

This garbage, some of which has been documented to be hazardous to the environment is a little over One mile from Mobile Government Plaza. That should be embarrassing to the City Council, especially William Carroll because this garbage rots in his district. Most progressive cities use their water resources to attract tourists, not make the tourists run in the other direction. Mobile does not have that many waterways in the downtown district to maintain.

Several City of Mobile garbage containers can be found on the shorelines or in the waterways.

To reduce the amount of litter in the water and on the shorelines someone needs to be removing it. To leave this garbage rot in the water is wrong. It is time for ADEM to start fining the City of Mobile daily until they get this trash removed. The idiots finding loopholes in EPA, ADEM, Municipal and NPDES code so they can ignore the trash may not realize ignoring the trash may have negative consequences.

Mobile Baykeeper just had a big Apple Snail Killing party three weeks ago. In this photo you can see 8 egg clusters in this one small area, so, despite the killing party, the snails are as plentiful as ever.

An apple snail egg cluster laid on a floatable (also known as public garbage). The negative consequence to ignoring garbage in Mobile Urban waterways is that the floating litter could end up being the vector that transports the first Apple Snail eggs into the Upper Delta by way of tidal influences and wind. The longer authorities ignore the trash in the water the more likely apple snails will hitch a ride on litter and escape beyond Mobile River into the Delta. This is not the first time I've seen apple snail eggs laid on storm water litter. Wind could easily influence where this cooler ends up once the tide takes it out to the big river.

Amidst all the trash, vegetation along the creeks continues to bloom. These were just some of the flowers seen in bloom today.