The New Hampshire Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is hosting emergency clean-ups at area beaches to remove a rash of washed up disks that are used to remove bacteria from wastewater. More info below. This incident is similar to a beach pollution issue that Surfrider Europe investigated during 2010. Surfrider Europe Investigates Plastic Debris on Atlantic Beaches.
HAMPTON — The Blue Ocean Society and New Hampshire Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation will host emergency beach cleanups at three locations in response to the accidental discharge of bacteria-laden disks that escaped from the Hooksett Wastewater Treatment Plant last week and washed up on area beaches.
The cleanups were initially scheduled for today but have been rescheduled to Thursday, March 17, from noon to 5 p.m. Volunteers are asked to gather at the North Hampton State Beach parking lot at 295 Ocean Blvd., the parking lot in front of the Ashworth by the Sea Hotel in Hampton and the parking lot next to the Yankee Fisherman's Cooperative in Seabrook. Volunteers will be provided gloves and trash bags to help remove the disks. Officials from both organizations and the state Department of Environmental Services will be on hand to help.
The disks were used at the Hooksett plant to help soak up and consume bacteria in wastewater. On Monday, crews from the Strafford County Department of Corrections removed thousands of disks, but officials say there are many more to be collected. The disks led officials to temporarily close Seabrook Beach.
DES officials on Monday declared the disks tested negative for both E. coli and Enterococci. “We tested for these types of bacteria because they are what are typically involved in water contamination,” James Martin, DES public information officer, said Tuesday.
DES testing of the disks over the weekend came back positive for E. coli, but Martin said the tests showed a very low level of contamination. “What we found was equivalent to the level of bacteria you encounter on a doorknob every day,” he said. “Because of this low number, it is important for people not to panic and understand everything is being done in our power to take care of this.”
While the most recent tests came back negative, Martin is encouraging folks not to touch the disks with their bare hands. “Even if you use gloves, please be careful and wash your hands afterwards or use a disinfectant,” he said.For information, visit www.meetup.com/Surfrider-Foundation-New-Hampshire-Chapter/events/16928227/