Posts Tagged ‘Carmen White’

On Thursday September 15, 2011, FCEC stakeholders, representatives and partners gathered in downtown Long Beach at the NOAA office for the annual Strategic Planning Meeting. The meeting was facilitated by Lori Lewis (Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]), who had been keeping the Strategic Planning Meetings running smoothly for more than seven years now. Since this year marks the Institutional Controls’ 10 Year Anniversary, Carmen White (EPA) kicked off the meeting with an overview of what has been accomplished and where FCEC is headed. Next, Gabrielle Dorr (Montrose Settlements Restoration Program [MSRP]) spoke about MSRP’s past year successes, including bald eagle triplets hatching among the Channel Islands. Marita Santos (Los Angeles County Public Health) took the podium next to update the group on pier signage progress. Presentations on angler outreach followed. A number of presenters then spoke on enforcement and monitoring. Concluding the morning session was a spirited presentation on Fishermen Appreciation Day delivered by Frankie Orrala (Heal the Bay).

Hard hat awards were presented to a handful of organizations to recognize their longstanding contributions to FCEC efforts (and other efforts related to mitigating the effects of the PV Shelf which came before FCEC, or as Gwangyu Wang said “…long before FCEC.”)  Award recipients included Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG), Heal the Bay, Los Angeles County Public Health, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) and Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission.

After refueling with lunch, meeting attendees broke out into four smaller groups. Each group engaged in topic discussions related to three project components: angler outreach, fish tissue sampling and market inspections. Groups brainstormed ideas about how their organizations could help with each of these efforts and how each of these efforts could contribute to their own work. Groups reconvened at the end of each topic discussion to share ideas and identify common themes. The meeting concluded with a discussion of next steps (not to mention an erroneous fire alarm.) Congratulations to everyone involved on 10 years of ICs efforts!

As FCEC has addressed in a previous post, Sediment 101, the Palos Verdes Shelf is an area of the Pacific continental shelf off the Palos Verdes peninsula that is contaminated with the pesticide DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) and waste from industrial lubricants called PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls).

Carmen White is the Remedial Project Manager U.S. EPA Region 9 and head of FCEC. Recently Carmen provided an update on remediation of the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund site by addressing the questions below.

How often is data collected regarding levels or DDTs and PCBs in sediment, water and fish around the Palos Verdes Shelf?

Carmen White: EPA selected a remedy for the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund site that includes capping the erosive edge of the contaminated sediment deposit, monitoring the natural recovery that is occurring along the Shelf, and continuing the outreach and education program that informs anglers of the risk posed by certain fish species caught around PV Shelf.

The first step toward implementation of the remedy was collection of baseline data that will enable EPA to measure the effectiveness of the cap.  From 2009 to 2011, EPA collected and analyzed sediment cores and water samples across the Shelf. Five years after capping, EPA will again collect sediment and water samples across the Shelf to gauge the post-capping reduction in DDTs and PCBs.

Can you talk a bit about the findings?

Carmen White: Changes in water, sediment and fish are seldom noticeable from year to year. The last in-depth monitoring of the Palos Verdes Shelf—that included PCBs as well as DDTs—was during the Natural Resource Damage Assessment in the 1990s.  The amount of contaminated sediment is significantly less than what was measured then.

What is the current timeframe for the capping construction (interim remedy) of the 300 acre contaminated area?

Carmen White: This Fall EPA completed field studies that will help with cap design.  The studies will help us identify the best material to use for the cap and the exact location and size of the cap.  Cap construction is still a year or two away.

What does it mean for FCEC after remediation is completed?

Carmen White: FCEC is an integral part of the remedy and will continue for the foreseeable future.

We are making progress and FCEC’s work in educating the public about health effects associated with consuming contaminated fish will continue! For more information on the contamination of the Palos Verdes Shelf, how it happened and what’s being done to clean it up, please check out our Project History page.

If you have any additional questions about the remediation project, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

Carmen WhiteFCEC has made great progress in reaching out to communities about fish contamination during these last few months.  I’m excited to share our progress with all of you.  We’ve posted new signs at local fishing spots, created a new map on the FCEC website and launched a new contest!

The posting of our new fish advisory signs in fishing areas across Los Angeles, Long Beach and Seal Beach is an amazing accomplishment.  I have seen this project develop from an idea to execution and the level of collaboration has been integral to its success.  These signs will be permanent reminders to anglers not to consume the five fish, caught from Santa Monica Pier to Seal Beach Pier, that are highly contaminated.

I also invite you to check out the new interactive map on our website; it is a really easy way of determining if the fish advisory applies to a fishing area.  The map marks local environmental/community organizations and bait and tackle shops, too!

If you are looking to share fish contamination information with your community, the article about FCEC’s Booth in a Box will interest you.  Free educational materials in multiple languages are yours—all you need to do is distribute them at your community event.

Did you know that there is a history of mislabeling in the seafood industry?  Read this eye-opening article on seafood mislabeling to make sure you’re eating the fish you intended to eat.

Finally, there is a new contest currently running on our blog.  You could win a free fishing trip for two if you can identify the fish on our slide show!  Not a bad way to enjoy summer!

I hope this e-Newsletter issue helps you learn more about the local fish contamination.  Help us to spread this information by sharing these stories with others.

If you have any questions, the FCEC team is always happy to help.  Leave a comment in this post or email



Carmen White


I’m happy to introduce the 10th issue of our e-newsletter!

This issue has a lot of great stories by our FCEC team. I’m also pleased to report that the issue comes on the heels of a very successful Partners’ Meeting held in late January where nearly 30 partners gathered at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health offices (big thank you to Marita) to discuss the program’s achievements and get updates from each other on spreading the word on fish contamination in their respective communities.

This issue is packed with this very topic – fish contamination – including what fish to avoid and what fish is safe to eat when prepared properly and consumed in moderation.

We also talk about the root causes of our fish advisories, dating back to the 1940s and 1980s. We discuss how manufacturing plants in Los Angeles released chemicals called DDT and PCBs into the sewer system and led to the fish advisories you see today.

For instance, did you know that topsmelt caught in the Palos Verdes Shelf in Southern California is highly contaminated and should not be consumed? If you’d like to know how to identify this contaminated fish, check out our video on how to do this.

While there are many locally-caught fish species such as white croaker and topsmelt mentioned above that should not be consumed, there are plenty of fish that are ok to eat. However, these fish should still be consumed about once or twice a week and prepared as fillets without the skins. Here is a webpage that lists all the fish that are safe to eat with those restrictions.

Finally, if you’d like to do good and feel good by eating seafood that’s sustainable, Whole Foods now has a handy labeling system that allows you to see the various sustainability levels of different seafood. After all, a smart consumer is a well-informed consumer.

I hope you’ll enjoy our articles and as always, we’d love to hear what you think so let us know!



Carmen White


2010 was a remarkable year for the Fish Consumption Education Collaborative, known as FCEC. We saw a large increase in our outreach efforts. We engaged our community at local piers, clubs and community organizations more than in any previous year. We attended numerous events where we spoke directly to community members about fish contamination in the area.

We also saw a few significant changes these past twelve months. Sharon Lin, who led the FCEC program for several years, moved on to other endeavors within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. FCEC benefited from her vision and leadership. Sharon was instrumental in creating the foundation for the work we will continue to expand upon.

In case you were wondering, I’m her replacement. I joined the EPA in 1997, working in the Community Involvement Office. It is my hope that my experience there and my various other roles will aid FCEC in its educational and community outreach. Additionally, I’m familiar with the issues around the Palos Verdes Shelf since I’ve been working on the Shelf’s cleanup plans since 2004.

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you! We recently asked you what you thought of our newsletters and blog posts. Thanks to all of you who took the time to share your thoughts.

Here are a few things we learned from the survey. Almost half of the respondents visit our blog monthly. Our newsletter readers also prefer informative videos and posts and like reading about fish consumption information. As a result, you can expect more of what you like! So why not start with our current newsletter that serves up exactly that?

First, check out an interview with Dave Anderson who works with our partner, Seafood For the Future – who talks about the relationship between what we eat and ocean sustainability. We also have a video on what chef and author Barton Seaver dubs “Restorative Seafood” and how to eat with sustainability in mind.

Lastly, we have a short video clip with fish enthusiasts from the Cerritos Rod & Gun Club, where they discuss what they learned about fish contamination at one of their club meetings.

Thanks for reading, and happy holidays!


Carmen White