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Everett Port adds floating pump that cleans the bay

Ardi Kveven photo

Anna King shows the replaceable filter from the Seabin.

EVERETT — Have you noticed something different down at the Port of Everett marina? Maybe a strange object resembling a trash can floating around? The port installed this pump called a Seabin around August to help filter garbage and debris out of the water.
Everett’s Seabin is one of the first in the U.S., according to Elise Gronewald, an Environmental Engineer at the port and Project Manager for the Seabin installation, as the only others in America are in California. Piloted in 2017 by two surfers, the Seabin began selling in the U.S. in 2019.
“If everyone, including the port, can be a little bit more conscience every day, you can make a difference,” Gronewald said.
This brand-new device cost approximately $7,000 after shipping and collects 6 to 11 pounds of garbage a week. It has a capacity of 10 pounds. The Seabin is capable of collecting micro-plastics as tiny as 2 millimeters (less than 1/8 of an inch).
Catherine Soper, a spokeswoman for the Port of Everett, explained in a joint phone interview how the staff physically collects garbage as well: “Nothing will change with what we are currently doing and what our staff just regularly does.” 
Gronewald continued over the phone: “You can only be more sustainable, we won’t slow down continuing to clean up the marina on our own, this is just another tool to use to help in it … Now we are available to go to other areas of the marina to clean up.”
Soper and Gronewald said before the Seabin was even shipped, they asked the Executive Director and Founder of EvCC’s Ocean Research College Academy (ORCA), Ardi Kveven, if she and her students would be interested in helping with this project.
ORCA students Anna King and Collin Wojahn work together to change the Seabin net once a week (sometimes twice if necessary), sort through the debris and garbage by color and size, and catalog their research.
King said: “Surprisingly, we have only found one hypodermic needle… usually its about 70 percent sticks and leaves, and then we’ve got some eel grass, 10 percent plastics on average and most of its Styrofoam… We did get a flip flop once.”
“Overall it does very well collecting plastics, foam, and other harmful debris while also ridding the water of natural waste,” Wojahn said. “One of the challenges we’re having is replacing the oil pad in it which absorbs oil found in the water, I worked last summer for the Port of Everett and there’s a clear visible difference with oils and other trash by having the Seabin.”
According to Kveven, King really took charge of this project.
“She organized the collection protocol, she designed the testing regime, how we were going to assess anthropogenic (human-activity) influence versus natural” pollution, Kveven said. “She really just spearheaded; she joined a club on campus to generate their interest.”
King’s passion shows in her words.
“The ocean and the waters that we live near are not garbage disposals, they are places for us to enjoy and to appreciate and they won’t be there forever if we keep dumping stuff into them,” King said.
If the Seabin proves to be effective and efficient over time, the Port of Everett may consider installing more, Soper from the port said. “We’re all in this together, we’re a community. I think that we need to be aware of our actions,” Soper said. “If we have trash it should go into the garbage can where it belongs. But just knowing that in the end, if it ends up in the water that we’re trying to do our part to make sure it’s collected properly.”
King and Wojahn plan to present their research and findings to the Possession Sound Student Showcase and Talks event Thursday, June 11 at 5 p.m. at the University of Washington (this may be virtual due to COVID-19) and to the Port Commission closer to the end of the summer. The public is welcome to attend if they are curious to hear what the students have discovered and how the Seabin is working.



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