Posts Tagged ‘FCEC’

For the last year, Judy Huang has been the sole Project Manager for EPA’s Palos Verdes Shelf project. In this New Year, we are pleased to welcome Phillip Ramsey to the team as Manager for the Institutional Controls Program. Phillip takes the reins of the 12 year program initially pioneered by EPA’s Fred Schauffler, who recently passed.

Please join us as we take a few moments to get to know Phillip and his plans for the Program:

FCEC: What were you working on before you were tapped to step in on the Palos Verdes Shelf Institutional Controls Program?

Phillip Ramsey: For the past seventeen years, I have been working in the EPA (Region 9) Federal Facilities unit of the Superfund program, assisting the military with the cleanup of numerous California bases. During that time I oversaw the transfer of the Oakland Naval Hospital and Oakland Navy Supply and also managed the Concord, Barstow, Tracy and Sharpe sites, to name some.  Prior to Federal Facilities, I managed a private Superfund site for about five years that is located in Los Angeles County: the Puente Valley Operable Unit of the San Gabriel Valley Superfund Site. I think it’s incredible that I have come full circle to work on this large scale, high profile, marine sediment site, and to be given this opportunity to serve the millions of people (and the thousands of anglers) that call SoCal home.

FCEC: What are you looking forward to about overseeing the Institutional Control Program?

Phillip Ramsey: I am very excited to have been asked to assist Judy Huang on the site and to build on the foundation that Fred Shauffler established for the Program.

I am looking forward to working with FCEC’s partners that are associated with the Educational Outreach, Monitoring, and Enforcement aspects of the Institutional Control Program. To date, I have had the pleasure of attending two meetings on the PV Shelf site and recognize the tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience that collectively exists. It’s my goal to maximize the utilization of this talented pool of professionals to develop a strengthened and robust Institutional Controls Program. Having a background and interest in fisheries and marine biology, and being an angler myself, I am very excited about managing the Education Outreach and Monitoring components and working with the local angling community to strengthen partnerships, improve communication and promote safe fishing practices.

I have a bachelor’s degree in biology (marine biology emphasis) from Fullerton, a graduate degree in natural resource (wastewater utilization option) from Humboldt State and have applicable experiences that have prepared me well for this project. I worked as a freshwater fisheries extensionist oversees in the Peace Corps, which provided me extensive cross cultural experiences, and have freshwater aquaculture experience, serving as a manager in an indoor aquaculture facility in Fresno County.

FCEC: What challenges do you see ahead?

Phillip Ramsey: Like other projects I have undertaken at EPA, I view challenges as opportunities. The Institutional Controls Program for the Palos Verdes Shelf Site represents an opportunity for EPA and its partners to continue ongoing efforts to reinforce and refine existing program components, in order to insure protection of human health, to further promote safe fishing practices and to support fishing and fisheries through positive communication, cooperation and collaboration with the public and commercial and sport fishing representatives that depend on sustainable fisheries.

For FCEC’s Partners Meeting on January 24, we acknowledged some changes in our team: the departure of Howard Wang, who has been with the project since 2008, Mark Gold moving from Heal the Bay to join UCLA’s sustainability team, and of course, saying goodbye to our outgoing Project Manager, Carmen White, and welcoming Judy Huang in her place.

In her parting words, Carmen acknowledged FCEC as a cutting edge program and noted that the important connections created between community members, local, state and federal agencies has made this program what it is today.

After Judy was announced as the new project manager, each of the Partners took a moment to introduce themselves and their roles in FCEC. Following these announcements and introductions, the Partners presented updates on several programs and discussed two great successes of recent projects: the Pier Sign Evaluation and updated Tip Card. We are happy to report that the pier signs are working, and anglers are taking away the key messages of the pier signs.

Coupled with the updated Tip Card, that now provides a link directing people to safe fish to eat in other areas, FCEC’s efforts are starting to see strong signs of influence in anglers making safe and informed choices of the fish they catch and eat.

And speaking of eats, check out our Partner’s Meeting slideshow below to see how our meeting was an event that called for cake!

 

 

Americans have come to use the Hawaiian, “Aloha,” as a word to mean both hello and goodbye. It’s a pleasant, if not an entirely accurate, translation. It’s also very fitting for us at this moment as we say Aloha to both Judy Huang and Carmen White, FCEC’s incoming and outgoing Project Managers.

For the last year, Carmen White has provided our group with remarkable leadership in broadening FCEC’s educational and community outreach. We offer her all our gratitude for her efforts.

As we wish Carmen farewell, we are pleased to welcome Judy Huang to her new role. We sat down with FCEC’s new Project Manager to ask her what she sees for the future of the group.

FCEC: Hi Judy, can you share a little of your background with us?

Judy Huang: While I have a lot of work and educational experience with environmental science—I graduated with a degree in chemical engineering from UC Berkley—I also recognize the importance of engaging and activating communities through outreach.

Like Carmen before me, I’m coming from the EPA. I’ve been with their superfund division for 6 years. Prior to that, I had worked for the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board for 13 years where I worked on sites addressing a variety of topics including: waste water treatment plant discharge, stormwater permitting, wetland restoration and superfund site cleanup.

FCEC: What other superfund sites have you worked on and what do they share in common with the Palos Verdes Shelf Superfund Site?

Judy Huang: I was the Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) Regional Coordinator, so a lot of them have been things like closed military facilities. Interestingly, the work I did with Fort Ord, to address the cleanup of munitions, earned the distinction of being the first privatized cleanup on a military base.

I’ve done a lot of work on sites in Hawaii that have a lot issues in common with PV Shelf. The Pearl Harbor Naval Air Station and the Del Monte Oahu Plantation both dealt with pesticide cleanups stemming from soil, sediments and groundwater contamination.

While not a superfund site, an offshore munitions study site in Hawaii called Ordinance Reef examined the impact of munitions to human health in the environment. Similar to the PV Shelf consumption study, we had to determine if the seafood was safe to eat. The study looks at how the population prepares their food, and where they caught their fish. The best part of the site was working with the community. Unlike the PV Shelf, everyone in the community could actually see the munitions in the water when they went diving, so everyone was very engaged and aware.

FCEC: What are you looking forward to most about working with the Fish Contamination Education Collaborative on the PV Shelf Project?

Judy Huang: I’m looking forward to learning from the project! First there is the learning opportunity dealing with the technical challenge with the underwater cap. But I’m also looking forward to learning from community outreach. It’s a large component and challenging to implement and enforce. It’s unlike other superfund sites, in that respect.

FCEC: What are your thoughts on the current FCEC outreach efforts and program as a whole?

Judy Huang: PV Shelf is one fast moving project. Based on the Partners meeting we had, I’m impressed with how many people FCEC managed to reach. It’s been impressive to see how excited partners are, and how much pride and ownership they have towards their role in the project.

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.