Alberni Valley Local Events


Open Letter asking for funding help

We are writing to describe to you a feature we are preparing for our website and to ask you for help achieving our objective. Our website is large 100 megabytes of images and 67 megabytes of text, and gets 700 hits a day from all over the world. People are especially attracted by our Earth Gallery feature.

We want to describe and picture on our website the huge fibre mat that covers the bottom of the Alberni Harbour. This mat, about one square mile in size, results from decomposing wood wastes deposited on the harbour bottom during fifty years of pulp mill operations. The physical geography of the harbour has prevented the Somass River from flushing this effluent into the ocean via the Alberni Inlet. As these wood wastes decompose, they suck oxygen from the water, resulting in very low dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations. This low DO would entirely prevent salmon from entering the Somass River if not for a daily cycle of wind in July and August which mixes fresh and salt waters enough to temporarily remove the DO barrier. In addition, this fibre mat contains mercury, dioxins, and other toxic chemicals, making its removal a potentially dangerous procedure. Authorities have not yet been able to solve this problem.

In order to bring this problem to the attention of the public at large, we are presently collecting information for a feature on this issue for our website. Our objective in putting together this feature is to make available information to people who come to our website in the hope that someone in the worldwide community will be inspired to look for a viable solution to this problem.

We have contacted scientists at D.F.O., the Federal Ministry of Environment, and the Pacific Geoscience Centre to look for information that may be available electronically on the history as well as the present status of the mat. We plan to arrange for divers to take underwater video footage of the fibre mat to put on our website. A local diver who took underwater footage of the fibre mat for MacMillan Bloedel in 1990 has offered to videotape the mat again if we could somehow supply him with an underwater video camera. We would like to take samples of the fibre mat and have them analyzed in a lab. To do this, we would need someone who is qualified to take proper scientific samples, as well as funding to pay for lab analysis.

We are writing this letter to find out if there is any way you could help us with advice or funding for this project. We are limited in terms of contacts, and would appreciate any suggestions you may have.

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Local Alberni Valley Issues Alberni Environmental Coalition