Posts Tagged ‘Palos Verdes Shelf’

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.

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.