Alameda Beaches: No Plastic Wanted


Crown Memorial Beach is an Alameda treasure.

Sometimes, especially during the summer, there are a few too many non-gold “coins” floating around in the water and throughout the sand.

All the metal soda and juice containers, plastic bottles, cigarette butts and other items — trash — ends up in the beach and eventually out in the Pacific Ocean. And one Bay Area-based organization is working to understand and address this issue: Project Kaisei.

On Tuesday, August 10, the documentary film “Project Kaisei: Capturing the Plastic Vortex” was shown in San Francisco at George Lucas’ Letterman Digital Arts Center. One of the scenes, an interview with the Kaisei founder Mary Crowley, was even filmed along the estuary in Alameda near Grand Marina and across from Coast Guard Island.  

The project, which gets its name from the Japanese word for ocean planet, aims to study and hopefully remove plastic and marine debris now concentrated in the North Pacific Gyre (two times the size of Texas!).

The group also works to educate the public about the need to prevent plastics from entering our water system and the importance of cutting down on our use of plastics, especially non-biodegradable plastics.

“Every year over 260 million tons of plastic are produced, much of it for one-time use and less than 5% of the world’s plastics are recycled. National Geographic estimates that over 85 million plastic bottles are used every three minutes. In many cases, plastic waste that is not incinerated or land-filled makes its way to the oceans,” according to Project Kaisei.

“Currently there are no proposed solutions to resolve the issue of removal of marine debris floating in the oceans. Most believe it is not possible to clean such a vast region, and aim for more responsible handling of waste on shore,” says the group.

“Using advanced technology, however, Project Kaisei will test existing technologies to learn if debris collected in the Plastic Vortex can be detoxified and processed into fuel via a patented technology that is now just beginning operations in a number of countries,” it explains.

This afternoon on Crown Beach, this blogger collected about 10 cigarette butts, six pieces of styrofoam, five plastic bags, four paper McDonald’s cups, four straws, two plastic McDonald’s cups,  two cigar holders and one plastic bottle cap. 

Keeping in mind that the plastic out in the Pacific can originate in Alameda, we can begin to address this problem by putting trash in bins as much as possible and not letting plastics into the storm drains.

We also can get ready for the California Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday, September 25 — or get down to the beach for a walk and a bit of tending before then, if possible.  And, as Project Kaisei stresses, we can use less plastic, a convenient but highly polluting material.


Spill Clean-Up Continues; Small Impact on Marinas

The U.S. Coast Guard says clean-up crews continue to work in several areas of Alameda that have been affected by the October 30 Dubai Star oil spill, while wildlife experts search for and capture any animals impacted by the spill.

Wildlife recovery specialists have recovered 36 live birds affected by the oil and 11 dead oiled birds since Friday. (Two of the 36 live birds died during treatment at the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center in Cordelia, Calif.)

The state also has set up a mobile treatment, or stabilization, center in Alameda near Crab Cove.

To report affected wildlife, call 1-877-823-6926.

Clean-up work at Robert Crown Memorial State Beach is about 80 percent finished, while the situation at Ballena Bay and Bay Farm Island is still being assessed.

Crown Memorial Beach, part of the East Bay Regional Park District, remains closed as a result of the spill, and fishing is suspended from the San Mateo Bridge to the San Francisco Bay Bridge.

Two-day clean-up efforts at the Ballena Isla Marina in Alameda were completed earlier today, according to marina management. “We didn’t get much of the spill in the marina at all,” said Tim Leathers, Almar Marina’s regional vice president for Northern California. “We’re lucky.”

Ballena Isle, which has more than 300 boats at its slips, said the oil spill affected a dock with about 20 vessels. “There were globs of the bunker fuel, but they were easy to get out of the water,” Leathers said.

A crew hired by O’Brien’s Response Management,  handling the clean-up on behalf of Dubai Star’s owner – South Harmony Shipping, and the contracted cleaners — National Response Corporation – had about 25 individuals in the Ballena Isle Marina on Sunday and Monday, according to Leathers.

“The crews are now working on the west side, or the bay side, of Ballena Bay, and they are using materials to sop up and catch any oil that the wind could push into the area,” Leathers said.

At Marina Village on the Oakland Estuary, none of the oil spill came into the harbor, according to Sheila Maher, assistant harbor master of the Marina Village Yacht Harbor.

The claims number for those affected by the spill is (800) 421-0863.