EPA’S ocean survey vessel “Bold” studies Puget Sound

Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB) contaminated orcas, dwindling dissolved oxygen and deep Sound sediments are but a few of the research targets of the Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) floating marine laboratory, which is making its debut in Seattle beginning July 31.

The Bold is newly arrived in Puget Sound following its work in Alaska, where EPA scientists studied the effects of wastewater discharges from cruise ships on the marine environment between Juneau and Skagway.

Elin Miller, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle, welcomed the ship’s arrival and highlighted its role in helping “paint a clearer picture” of Puget Sound’s health.

“The timing couldn’t be better,” said EPA’s Miller. “These surveys will help assess two of the most serious risks to human health and ecological integrity in Puget Sound: toxic chemicals stored in the sediments and oxygen depletion that harms all forms of life.”

During its local tour of duty, the Bold is scheduled to:

• Analyze sediment samples throughout Puget Sound for chemical contaminants commonly associated with large metropolitan areas.

The project will be conducted in partnership with the U.S. Army

Corps of Engineers, the Washington Department of Ecology and the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

• Monitor dissolved oxygen and nutrient concentrations throughout Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca in collaboration with the Washington Department of Ecology. This study will provide valuable information to support the Department of Ecology’s effort to identify the most important causes of oxygen depletion in the Sound and design a strategy to restore oxygen levels to their normal levels.

Recent research indicates that Puget Sound orcas have the world’s highest body burdens of PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) and other contaminants of all marine mammals. Dioxins, PCBs and other chemicals in Puget Sound sediments pose risks to not only orcas and marine life but all seafood consumers – including people.

Oxygen depletion in Puget Sound has resulted in virtual “dead zones” where fish, crabs and other aquatic life are dying from lack of oxygen.

“As the State of Washington launches its restoration effort with the Puget Sound Partnership, the Bold surveys will provide vital information to the effort,” Miller added.

On Aug. 19, the 224-foot OSV Bold will be docked at Seattle’s Pier 66 and will be open to the public for tours and demonstrations. The free tours will be conducted from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Each visitor will receive a free pass to Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center.

For additional information about the OSV Bold, visit: www.epa.gov/bold

For more information about the Puget Sound Partnership, visit: http://www.psp.wa.gov/