August 30, 2001
Revised: September 9, 2001
Subject: Red Water spotted by EPA Aerial Surveillance
Delaware Coastline August 15, 2001
On August 17, 2001, I was inquiring to the EPA/PHL office about a coastal surveillance program that I had found on their web site. Since the late 1980's the EPA has had this coastal program in effect. It starts on Memorial Day and runs through Labor Day.
The program includes a ship that takes water samples and observes the ocean for garbage spills, oil spills, dead or dying marine mammals etc. They are looking for anything that may be going wrong. The program also includes aerial surveillance once or twice weekly by volunteers from the Wilmington Civil Air Patrol if weather is permitting.
I called Mr. Don Welsch's office, EPA/PHL, who is listed as the Director in charge of this summer's coastal surveillance program which is touted to keep people vacationers on the coastline safe from spills, algae blooms, etc.(Sharks?). I asked for a copy of their summer 2000 report from the program. Mr. Welsch's secretary told me she would have Mr. Welsch call me back.
Ms. Nancy Grundle, of the EPA/PHL office returned my call and asked what "issue" did I have. I said, I don't have an issue, I would like a copy of your coastal surveillance year 2000 report if possible. Ms. Grundle said, she didn't believe there was a report, that only individual log books that were held by a Mr. Mark Barath in charge of Aerial Surveillance and by Mr. Bill Muir, Oceanographer in charge of the ship that cruises the coast would be the only "reports" available. I asked, " a Federal Agency doesn't have an annual report of a coastal program"? Ms. Grundle said , not to her knowledge. Now, that means to me that a report probably exists or at least it should.
Shortly after calling the EPA office in PHL, I received a phone message from Mr. Jack Pingree of DNREC(Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control). He said, " Bill the EPA aerial surveillance reported red water from Indian River Inlet all the way to Fenwick Island(Delaware) on Wednesday, August 15(2001)". Now I thought, why is Mr. Pingree calling me? Did someone from the EPA call him and alert him that I "found out" about the EPA surveillance program? How else? Phone bills can be checked if necessary by the EPA's Inspector General's Office when I file that complaint, not that it matters a whole hell of a lot. Why the cover-up about the EPA aerial surveillance?
Who is pulling the strings in DNREC that Mr. Pingree has knowledge and no one else out of DNREC does? Is DePasquale(current Secretary of DNREC) ready to be removed as was the prior Secretary for mismanagement? There is no regard for the Public's Health coming down from DNREC. People swam in the Red Water in Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island on August 16th and 17th. Northeasterly winds blew the red slick into the beach. A greenish brown foam accumulated on the beaches. By State Law, DNREC is responsible for the public's health on the recreational beaches – not the Dept. of Health as one would think. Does Governor Minner know about the Red Water? Is the Delaware government more concerned about keeping the beaches opened to supposedly keep the economy going? Wouldn't people go and spend money if they couldn't swim, like they do on a rainy day? As in Florida, it took 9 shark attacks over a period of a week to close the beaches in that area. This is appalling that fellow human beings in charge of the public's health let things like this happen. Who would want to swim in reddish brown water? Who would knowingly swim in water where sharks are near shore? People do. Lifeguards too. This is the world we live in or at least the State(s) that we live in. Maybe, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia or North Carolina will be more protective of it's residents and tourists. Should our regular visitors go to out-of-state beaches so they can be assured of their safety?
In the case of Delaware, regardless what lies the Public Health Dept and Beebe Hospital told the Center for Disease Control, there were numerous ailments that came from our Atlantic Coastline during the summer of 2000(Dept of Public Health reported zero cases reported from what we thought was a Red Tide last year). I have as you many of you may know, started a Red Tide Register in August of 2000. People that came in my store who saw the Red Water, Yellow tinge(chemical reaction with oxygen??, there are no bioluminescent organisms in the water). My 5 type written page report on just the illnesses that I found was sent to the Delaware Dept. of Public Health. They with-held my report from the CDC! I sent the report to the CDC and is now in the summer of 2000 Red Water file. The Red Tide registrants reactions to the water included: burning sensation of the skin, eyes, severe nausea, dizziness, cramps or severe muscle spasms, peeling of the skin, insomnia for several days(up to 6 for one family), Coxsackie virus contracted by 3 families I documented(one 6 yr old almost died). Raw sewage dumped from Wilmington can carry Coxsackie viral cysts and cryptosporidium cysts. These are not even being tested for in our water program (www.epa.gov/ost/beaches ).
I have examined the red water and coastal waters under the microscope. There are NO RED TIDE organisms present. There are Pfiesteria-like organisms present in large numbers. To my knowledge, Pfiesteria blooms are not called a Red Tide. Yet, the water is reddish and the symptoms are Pfiesteria symptoms not that of a brevetoxin. The Center for Disease Control informed me that the symptoms that I described to them(burning sensation of the skin, burning eyes, nausea , numbness or severe cramps, were not documented to be caused by the Red Tide toxin, brevetoxins. Are the symptoms caused by Pfiesteria toxins? See CDC 1997 Pfiesteria Report In this article for the CDC "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report" dated October 10, 1997 states " The attendees of the workshop agreed on a combined set of environmental conditions and clinical signs and symptoms that together may represent adverse consequences of exposure to these organisms(Pfiesteria piscicida). The clinical features in humans include any of the following signs and symptoms: 1) memory loss, 2) confusion, 3)acute skin burning( on direct contact with water), or 4) three or more of an additional set of conditions (headaches, skin rash, eye irritation, upper respiratory irritation, muscle cramps, and gastrointestinal complaints /i.e., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or abdominal cramps/).
"Workshop attendees suggested using the above framework to identify potentially affected person and recommended initiating the following public health activities:
1. uniform multistate surveillance for potential P.piscicida-and MRO-related illness;
2. multistate, CDC-coordinated, epidemiologic studies to determine possible human health effects associated with P. piscicida and MRO exposure; and
3. identification of a biomarker of exposure to the toxins produced by these organisms.
Among the attendees listed was AL Hathcock, Ph.D., Division of Public Health,, Delaware Health and Social Svcs.
Since the CDC workshop was held on October 10, 1997 the Delaware State General Assembly changed the responsibility for the public's health at recreational beaches from the Dept. of Health over to the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
Chemical tests taken by DNREC last year on August 13, 2000 at Bethany Beach yielded 2066 micrograms per liter of Aluminum (normal in sea water is 10 micrograms/L), Arsenic, Thallium, Colbalt and other heavy metals were recorded in the chemical analysis. Factory discharges on the Delaware Bay are responsible for these high levels of chemicals in the water. THIS STORY IS NOT GOING TO GO AWAY , I GUARANTEE THAT. See www.WinkFiles.com and read the article reference the Barcroft Company discharge permit renewal.
Delaware Government Officials have come to a crossroads in the history of the State. They will have to make a decision on if they(you) want the State to remain a chemical manufacturing state or if you want it to be a tourist destination State. You will not be able to have both. The future is here and the guys who put this State together have made some very serious mistakes. DNREC has know for up to 10 years that the Delaware Coastal Current (as explained in WinkFiles) existed , and that it carried the chemicals and raw sewage down the coast to our Atlantic Coastal beaches. Dr. Garvine, U. of Delaware, Newark informed DNREC that this was happening. Per Dr. Garvine in a personal conversation: "They (DNREC)didn't seem too interested".
All I have to say is do what you want, but don't turn your head to this or say what can I do about this?. I will keep publishing the truth of what is happening here in Delaware until the waters are safe to swim in. People are getting hurt by the waters here everyday. Delaware's system of "cover-up" is now a system that has been "opened up". The State or DNREC can deny and try to discredit me as they have in the past. Too many people know the facts and too many people are not happy about what they have found out.
On August 20, 2001 I called Governor Minner's office. Greg LeVine took my call. I told him that the EPA surveillance plane had reported Red Water from Indian River Inlet all the way to Fenwick Island. I also told him that to my knowledge, no lifeguards were notified of the Red Water. On August 16th and 17th, the Red Water became a greenish foam on the beach as northeasterly winds blew the water into the swimming area. How could DNREC not put out an advisory. They have no idea what is in that Red Water, or do they? Mr.LeVine said he would call DNREC and call me back. I never received a call back.
On August 30th I called and left another message with Mr. Levine. Still no call back as of 410pm September 9th. Last year, in the fall, I was on a call-in radio show with Governor Minner. I told her on the air that when I reported the Red Water on August 11, 2000 I was told by DNREC Emergency Response dispatcher that "we can't close the beaches" . Governor Minner told me that whoever said that was incompetent! Governor Minner told me that Delaware has a procedure to close beaches. I believed her and I'm sure everyone of the thousands of listeners did too. She sounded sincere.
After the radio show, I wrote Senator Bunting and asked for a copy of the "procedures" for beach closures here in Delaware. Senator Bunting sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, Mr. DiPasquale, asking him to forward a copy of the procedures to myself and to the Senator. As of almost one year later, neither Senator Bunting nor myself have received a copy of the "so called procedures for beach closures".
If you haven't figured it out by now, we have all been hoodwinked into thinking all is well on the Eastern Front. Well it isn't. Avoidance of the problem of the public getting sick from the waters will not help anything. Your family's health is at risk with government officials that don't really give a damn about you. They may be Homo sapiens, but they are not human beings (Webster definition: having the characteristic qualities or nature of mankind or of a man. Humane: having the feelings and dispositions 'proper' to man, having tenderness, compassion and a disposition to treat others with kindness). So, by allowing the people on the Delaware beaches to swim in the reddish water is to me, inhumane(last year the reddish water was documented by U.of North Carolina, Wilmington of having neurotoxins (brevetoxin 3 in the August 11, 2000 sample. And, don't forget about the high Aluminum content that DNREC sampled themselves and did their own chemical analysis. So, what does brevetoxins, high Aluminum (hydoxide or chloride?), and whatever else is in the water do to people? Ask those people who swam in the reddish water last year or twice so far this year.
Governor Minner, can we please be notified when the reddish water is coming out of the Delaware Bay so maybe we can make up our own minds if we want to be swimming out there?
William J. Winkler, Biologist
Ocean View, DE 19970
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