Complaint Registered to DNREC Emergency Response For Not Properly Responding to Coastal Water Impurities

Attorney General Jane Brady
C/O Ms. Joyce Jones
May 13, 2002
Delaware Attorney General's Office
Sussex County
FAX 856-5369

William J. Winkler
101 B Atlantic Ave
Ocean View, DE 19970

Fax total 4 pages, includes cover.


Attorney General Brady:

Consider the following 3 pages a complaint against DNREC Emergency Response, for not responding properly to a complaint by two citizens about lime-green water in Dewey Beach on November 27, 2001.

The concern is for public health. We have problems with out waters here in Sussex County and DNREC seems to be truly disinterested in protecting the health and well being of the people and children who swim in our Atlantic Coast beaches. Could you please check under the Child Endangerment Law to see if it applies in this case. I believe it does.


Sincerely,


William J. Winkler


Cc Vivian Houghton, Esq.
Cc EPA Region III Water Quality Division
Cc Jeff Montgomery News Journal
Cc Editor Cape Gazette
Cc Editor Coast Press
Cc Editor Wave
Cc Editor Daily Times Salisbury
CC Editor Washington Post
CC Editor Baltimore Sun
CC Editor Washington Times




Lime-green Water,
Foam and Stench
On Dewey Beach

Reported on November 27, 2001
To The
Delaware Dept of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC)
EMERGENCY RESPONSE

by
William J. Winkler, biologist
April 28, 2002

The following is an account of that day and the months thereafter, of one citizens' report of the lime-green water and foam and another citizens' request for a complete chemical analysis to be conducted on the lime-green water and inaction by DNREC on that request.

(chemical analysis is in micrograms per liter, ug/L)
(Chemical analysis by DNREC chemist with 15 years experience)

Note: near shore levels of most elements are normally higher than that of open ocean, but should they be this high?

DNREC EMERGENCY RESPONSE REPORTS:
"NO LIME-GREEN WATER OBSERVED".



On November 27, 2001 a resident of Lewes, Delaware while metal detecting on Dewey Beach's Atlantic Coast, could not help but notice the lime-green color of the water and foam of the same color floating with a stench in the air.

Surfers were in that water, she said. Her phone call to me, about 300pm that afternoon, put in motion what citizens are supposed to do: report unusual colored water to the Department of Natural Resources. I gave her the toll free phone number to call DNREC Emergency Response, 800-662-8802.

The resident from Lewes spoke to Mr. Costello at DNREC. She told him of the lime-green water and stench. Mr. Costello assured her that due to an offshore tropical storm and large swells coming into the Delaware coast, there was no cause for alarm. He told her that the swells were stirring up the bottom sediment and that's all it was. Nothing to be concerned about.

The Lewes resident called me back and told me what Mr. Costello had told her. I then called DNREC Emergency Response and spoke to Mr. Costello. I told him that someone needed to get down to the beach and get a water sample for a complete chemical analysis. He turned my call over to his boss, Mr. Mohrman. Mr. Mohrman and I know each other from a Red Tide incident in August of 2000(some of you may know that story). Mr. Mohrman listened to my concerns about finding out what chemicals or toxins were in the water since swimmers during the summer of 2000 experienced burning skin, eyes, muscle spasms, severe nausea and an inordinate peeling of the skin. He did not say that he would take a water sample.

Mr. Mohrman evidently did ask Mr. Costello to check out the water in Dewey, since he lives in the vicinity. Mr. Costello called the Lewes resident twice from the beach on his cell phone. He told her he did not see any lime-green water or smell anything out of the ordinary. The Lewes resident asked where he was and said, "well you're not where I told you to go". Even after the second call, Mr. Costello was still not where the Lewes resident reported the lime-green water.

In the mean time, I had called a friend of mine at the University of Delaware in Lewes, and told him of the lime-green water and asked if he could go to Dewey Beach to sample the water. He acknowledged that he could and sampled the water. He said he did see the lime-green water in patches but didn't smell anything out of the ordinary. Later he smelled the sample water and said it did have an odor to it.

I called back to Mr. Mohrman and told him that my friend at the U. of Delaware was getting a water sample and that his response truck could pick up the sample from him to have it analyzed.

NO RESPONSE TO CHEMICAL ANALYSIS REQUEST

As of April 25, 2002 after several calls and a personal inquiry to an executive in DNREC by my friend at the University about having the water sample tested, no effort by DNREC Emergency Response has been made to pick up the water sample to have it tested, not even a return phone call.

LIME GREEN-WATER SAMPLE SENT
TO DNREC LAB FOR TESTING

On December 4, 2001, one week after acquiring the water sample from Dewey Beach and not hearing back from DNREC, I called the DNREC lab myself and asked if I could send in a water sample for analysis. The lab tech said sure, send it in. I called my friend at the university and asked him to bring the sample to Ocean View so we could mail the sample to the DNREC lab for analysis. Keep in mind the sample had been in his possession since the day of sampling and all scientific protocol had been followed as far as proper water testing. Approximately one half of the water sample was poured into another sterile bottle and mailed by U.S. Mail to the chemist for analysis. On December 22, 2001, the results listed above in micrograms per liter(ug/L) were received in the mail from the chemist. We did the job that DNREC Emergency Response should have done on November 27, 2001.

I sent a registered letter to Governor Minner when she was elected. I said in the letter that the DNREC needs to be reviewed. In a meeting with Governor Minner in 2001, I reiterated my concerns. Governor Minner said she didn't remember a registered letter and said her aid probably had it.

Changes have yet to be made at DNREC, especially in the water quality section. I am asking again, "Can we get some cooperation please?" People should be made aware of what they are swimming or surfing in or not allowed to swim in the water if there is chemical contamination. Testing only for bacterial levels during the summer months is not enough. Regular chemical testing should be done year round, since surfers are in the water throughout the year.

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