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vashon island beach clean-up

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Clean-Up Crew Holding Oil Clods

What do you do for fun? Swedish Automotive owners David Winters & Sandra Wanstall along with their family collect trash off the beach. It starts as a beach walk (with garbage bags just in case) and ends with a trash haul, in this instance almost too heavy to carry.

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Trash Bags Heavy with Oil Clods

The garbage bags in the photo are heavy (at least 70 lbs each) with oil clods picked up along the beaches of southwest Vashon Island. Since the king tides in January many more of these clods have surfaced, remnants of the 1991 600,000-gallon oil spill at Tacoma’s US Oil & Refining. What spilled washed up on the beaches and became these clods, whichresemble rocks, but break apart with little pressure, fall apart in tarry layers, and leave a brown smudgy residue.

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Sampling of Trash Picked Up Along the Beach

Also removed from the beach while we were out last weekend, were a sleeping bag, chunks of styrofoam, all kinds of plastic, the entrails of an armchair, empty beer cans, PVC pipe, plastic water bottles, and more… The things of our lives that don’t go away!

Now that the oil clods are off the beach, what do we do with them? Many phone calls to King County Waste Characterization Department and the Washington Department of Ecology yielded the following best suggestion: “Double-wrap it in plastic and dispose of it in the household garbage.”

At least it is better than on the beaches … and beware, dogs like to eat it … yech!