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Illegal dumping of lead/arsenic into waterways by SeaSoft

Discussion in 'Diving Litigation' started by shoredivr, Dec 14, 2018.

  1. hammet

    hammet Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: United States
  2. lv2dive

    lv2dive Formerly known as KatePNAtl

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake City, FL
    Wow what a sensationalistic report. Haven’t watched anything from Scuba”News” before and now doubt I will in the future. A balanced news report makes an attempt to represent what happened and it does not appear that it even occurred to this “news” agency to get the other side of the story.

    To my knowledge I have never purchased anything from SeaSoft, I have no affiliation with them whatsoever. Further, I am a huge fan of environmental restrictions. All of that being said, the reason I have commented on this issue in this thread a couple of times is that it feels to me like this situation is not about a company flagrantly violating environmental laws, rather, a few employees made some mistakes and didn’t follow established protocols & rules and now they are being punished as if they were a Fortune 500 company who has knowingly been violating environmental statutes for years bc it was it was more cost efficient to risk getting caught and pay the fines than to do the right thing.
    markmud, lexvil, The Chairman and 6 others like this.
  3. JackD342

    JackD342 Dive Shop

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Highland Park, IL
    I at least largely agree. That video seemed to be assuming the worst in every way possible based on the initial press release, and even amplifying them with stock images and videos that I no way believe have anything to do with Seasoft or this specific enforcement, but can easily be interpreted that way. I was particularly struck by the statements about lifetime need for medical observation for all employees. I think that was the first time I heard THAT one, and would at this point consider it an extrapolation.

    But I also would not say that NOTHING happened here, or that there is zero need for remediation or enforcement. "Not all THAT bad" does admit that it's not all smoke - there was some fire too, so to speak.

    Anyone have any updates? I would think there would at least be some news by now on how cleanup has progressed, and whether the fine has been upheld, reduced, or is still under appeal.
  4. lv2dive

    lv2dive Formerly known as KatePNAtl

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake City, FL
    I believe the company owner acknowledged mistakes were made and explained how they had already corrected them.

    I’m not happy some lead got handled inappropriately but to me, it seems like it was 1/1000 of the size of many other violations that are ignored
  5. wetb4igetinthewater

    wetb4igetinthewater Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Seattle
    I respect what the owner is doing with giving people a second chance with employment, and he owned up to the fact that there should have been supervision. Once the spill occurred, it appears to me that due diligence was conducted. I respect the owner for transparency and taking the time to explain the situation from his perspective.

    Having seen how the state deals with different matters, it does not surprise me of an overreaction.
  6. Bruce Justinen

    Bruce Justinen Dive Equipment Manufacturer

    # of Dives: 5,000 - ∞
    Location: Olympia, WA
    Dear Fellow Divers:

    So I have been listening to the conversation and of course, I realize that everyone is not going to see things the same way we do. But let me give you some perspective.

    I have been diving since I was 9 years old. I am an instructor. I have over 6,000 dives with more than 5,000 of those in cold water. I founded SEASOFT in 1985 because I thought that hard weights were just to punishing and uncomfortable to wear. I have been making lead products since then and have bought and sold millions of pounds of lead shot in the last 35 years. There is not a lot about lead I don't know.

    I know guys that have had their houses torn down and ended up in the hospital back in the 80s because they poured so much brick lead in their kitchen that their house was fatally contaminated and they had such severe lead poisoning that they were mentally unstable.

    I have treated lead with respect because I know it is toxic. When you have a lot of it around you do that. BUT lead just sitting there is not danger. It is only when you melt it, grind it, handle it etc. that there is danger and if you mitigate that with proper protocols and procedures then you can do what we have done. In 35 years we have NEVER had even ONE employee test at or above the "actionable" (40) blood serum level for lead. The highest level we have ever had was a 26 and that person was removed from lead duty as a precaution. Most score at a 3 - 5 level.

    We have a lengthy "LEAD COMPLIANCE PROGRAM" that is required by the WA St. Dept. of Labor and Industry. If anyone wants a copy of this program then email me bruce@seasoftscuba.com and I will send you a copy.

    Lionfish-eater, your tone is a little harsh but you don't know me, I understand that. I want you to know I LOVE the ocean, it is my livelihood, it is my refuge and I would never make any decision to jeopardize its health for profit. We have every safety protocol called for.

    We have:

    1. Respirators
    2. Latex and nitrile gloves
    3. Lab coats
    4. Tyvex suits
    5. Vacuum system with a water filter directly connected to the lead filling machine to extract any lead dust at the source.
    6. LEADASOL wipes
    7. Regular cleaning protocols
    8. Annual blood serum tests for all employees at no cost to them.
    9. On demand blood test, any employee can ask for a blood test if they feel they would like one.
    10. HEPA vacuum cleaners
    11. Offices professionally cleaned yearly.
    12. Hazardous waste containers for used masks, gloves, suits, etc.

    Calvin Tang:

    One of my employees admitted that they flushed a couple (we don't know how many it really was) of buckets of muddy lead water down the toilet. But it would have been caught in the city's filtration system.

    What has most surprised me but I guess it shouldn't have is how vicious and unfair some people have been. My mom taught me that there were always 2 sides to every story and that you needed to hear both of them before you passed judgement on anyone.

    For an example - a couple of days ago the Illinois Council of Skin and Scuba Divers, Inc. passed along an article from UNDERCURRENT ONLINE Magazine (neither of these parties contacted me first).

    Here it is and watch how people just make stuff up and add their own stuff,

    We divers like to think of our fellow divers and dive businesses as environmentally sensitive -- we’re in that
    business, aren’t we? -- but then, along come scofflaws like Seasoft Scuba Gear in Lacey, WA, which has
    been dumping hazardous waste down a toilet, which flowed into a storm drain and then onto the ground .
    You see, they manufacture dive weights from corroded lead shot collected at shooting ranges, and after the
    weights are manufactured, their toxic lead and arsenic are a useless byproduct. Rather than spend the
    money to properly dispose of it, Seasoft just dumped it, allowing it to eventually seep into the once-pristine
    waters of Puget Sound, as well as into aquifers. Thankfully, the state’s Department of Ecology had an eye
    on them and has fined them a whopping $197,000 (good for them).

    They have us dumping into a toilet, which went into a storm drain which went into the ground and then notice this use of words "the ONCE-PRISTINE waters of Puget Sound, as well as into aquifers." No where in the press release is Puget Sound or aquifers mentioned but that doesn't stop UNDERCURRENTS from simply embellishing their story with untruths and fabrications.

    Remember, the spill site was 15 feet by 25 feet in gravel and never went deeper than 1 foot. By the way, if we had been "dumping", yes, really dumping, don't you think we would be dealing with something bigger than 15' x 25' x 1' ?

    The truth is this. We should do what all of our competitors do. They take lead that has been recycled from gun clubs, which is OK because it needs to be recycled. But they take that lead with its corrosive layer, dust, rock etc. and put it into bags and sell it to the public.

    Do you ever take your bags of lead out after a dive and see that grayy slurry coming out of it? That is a toxic lead cocktail of poison. Don't feel bad, we have been doing it for decades.

    I have been experimenting for decades on a way to reduce or eliminate that gray gravy. A few years ago I found that if I first coated lead shot with a proprietary catalyst and then tumbled the lead in graphite I created a hard shell that resisted corrosion for about 2 years or more. We have been selling this environmentally sealed lead ever since and it has been very successful.

    The irony of being charged for this 1 to 2 lb. "dumping" when we do more to reduce lead entering the ocean system than anyone else is painful to me. But no one promised that life would be fair.

    In the last month I have been called every name you can imagine, countless people have said in one way or another "Don't buy SEASOFT!" That has been devastating because I have spent 35 years building this company. I started it in my 20s and I am now in my 60s and it is all I know.

    In spite of what you are told or what you have heard, we care about the environment, we always have and we always will. We took responsibility for what a couple of workers did. We cleaned it up. We are better than we ever were but we don't deserve the actions taken by the Department of Ecology. We certainly did not deserve the dishonesty that they displayed and they will have to face their day in court.

    The defense for libel typically is "I didn't know" or "I was not aware of that". Ecology was aware and chose the pathway of sensationalism anyway.

    UNDERCURRENTS and others like them? We will decide on a case by case basis. Piling on and fabricating a story because it seems like the easy thing to do may be popular but it is still wrong. Our lawyers will decide. A swift retraction and apology might be a less costly way to settle.

    Again, I appreciate the support of many of you. Thank you.

  7. lv2dive

    lv2dive Formerly known as KatePNAtl

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Lake City, FL
    @Bruce Justinen it is a sad commentary on society that people are not interested in reading past the sound bite of “local company flaunting environmental laws” a) to see if it makes sense and b) to see if there is alternate perspective. I truly feel for you, this seems to me to a mountain out of a molehill and I would hope these scuba news sources would post an addendum to their stories. Not that I’m holding my breath for that
  8. Ayisha

    Ayisha DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Toronto, Canada
    No, I do not see a gray slurry coming out of my soft lead weights because I use SeaSoft. :)
    I appreciate the advancements you've made in environmentally sealing lead.
    Goldman and markmud like this.
  9. Jack Hammer

    Jack Hammer Solo Diver

    @Bruce Justinen, its interestesting you mention the "grayy slurry". My concerns over what it was and the amount of it getting on my gear being potentially bad are why I stopped using Seasoft weights and replaced them all with hard weights. Years ago. More concerning to me now is how much of that gray slurry was leached out into the various waterways while diving and rinsing gear.
  10. kelemvor

    kelemvor Big Fleshy Monster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Largo, FL USA
    Had I not already made more soft weights using reclaimed lead shot I would definitely be buying seasoft products.

    Maybe you guys should consider some kind of gofundme or something to help defend this nightmare. You could use the funds to litigate libelous claims such as those in undercurrent if nothing else.

    The "grey slurry" only came off the reclaimed shot I used when I was first cleaning it. After I got the lead clean, I haven't had a recurrence. I assumed it was the dirty gunpowder, just like the stuff I clean from my gun barrel after firing it.

    One thing is certain; It is a sad day to see two scuba businesses I like at odds with one another (seasoft and undercurrent).
    markmud likes this.

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