Wednesday April 16, 2014

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Styrofoam debris litters Howe Sound

John Buchanan photo

A section of Styrofoam dock floats ashore along Anvil Island last Sunday after heavy storms broke up several docks that had been towed to the island’s west side, sending Styrofoam debris into a large area of Howe Sound.

It was like someone set off a Styrofoam bomb over Howe Sound.

That’s how Squamish resident John Buchanan described the huge field of Styrofoam debris that he discovered on the water last Sunday from his runabout MandyLynn.

“It’s huge. It’s everywhere. This stuff is floating around like white popcorn,” Buchanan said Tuesday.

He said the source of the mess was several old Styrofoam docks that had been towed to the west side of Anvil Island months ago and recently broke up during heavy storms.

The Styrofoam debris was concentrated along the west side of Anvil Island, south of McNab Creek and along the north shore of Gambier Island, Buchanan said, adding that he had received unconfirmed reports of the debris hitting Bowen Island and Lions Bay by Tuesday.

Using his GPS, Buchanan identified 15 large Styrofoam dock sections, one the size of a large truck. One section was floating upright “in the middle of Howe Sound,” east of Anvil Island.

“It’s unpredictable where it’ll land,” he said, “but once it hits the beach it gets pounded into microscopic pieces which go right into our food chain.”

He also shot video of steel canopy posts and other dock remnants floating underwater.

Buchanan said he called the provincial Ministry of Environment RAPP line (Report All Poachers and Polluters) and was told his tip was being forwarded to other agencies, including the Coast Guard and federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Two days later, no officials had got back to him and there was no evidence of a cleanup effort underway.

The docks were originally the property of Thunderbird Marina in West Vancouver, a marina official confirmed late Tuesday, saying the new owner had been storing the docks temporarily on Anvil Island while waiting to transport them to a final destination.

Buchanan said he’s had no luck tracking down the owner of the docks, but wished the person would step forward and take responsibility.

“Come forward and maybe we can get some volunteers together. I want this stuff out of the ocean somehow and eventually a plan has to be put into place,” he said. “The consequences are clear now. What’s needed is a response.”

David Karn, a communications officer with the Ministry of Environment, confirmed Wednesday that the Ministry was not involved in any response plans.

“This is a federal matter,” Karn said in an email.

Calls to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans were not returned by press time.



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