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NEWS | Sept. 26, 2011

River Sweep 2011: a dirty job, but someone has to do it

By Terrence Larimer Joint Base Charleston Natural and Cultural Resources manager

River Sweep, the annual statewide litter clean-up campaign, swept through Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station Sept. 16. Twenty-two Naval Nuclear Power Training Command personnel contributed to the effort, "pitching in" to remove an estimated 500 pounds of trash and debris from 2.4 miles of JB CHS-Weapons Station waterways.

Much of the trash consisted of beer and soda cans, plastic bottles, paper cups, bits of plastic, blocks of Styrofoam, fishing debris (worm buckets, chicken containers, fishing line, etc.) and food wrappers. When it was all over, two large trash dumpsters were heaping full of this trash as well as glass windows, metal pipes, plastic conduit pipe, discarded coolers, wooden pallets, dock bumpers, construction debris and rope and dock floats.

"That is one big pile of trash," said, Keith Thompson, JB CHS Conservation program manager. "I never knew how much junk was out there along the river."

The 2011 Sweep marks the 14th time base personnel have participated in the annual South Carolina Beach/River Sweep event. Organized by JB CHS Natural Resources staff, volunteers from NNPTC divided into three teams and spent nearly three hours collecting and recording the type and amount of trash littering JB CHAS-WS's waterways.

JB CHS's River Sweep was conducted in conjunction with hundreds of other sweeps around the state cleaning up trash and debris littering beaches, creeks and rivers. Here, the efforts focused on the Cooper River from the mouth of Goose Creek to the Back River, Goose Creek at the Southside Security Docks, Hooker Lake, the Bushy Park boat landings and the ponds and creeks of Marrington Plantation.

The Beach/River Sweep is much more than just a one-day cleanup. It is a first step toward finding the "solution to pollution." While the cleanup itself serves an important function, of additional importance is recording what is found. This information is compiled and analyzed into an annual report by the Center for Marine Conservation. Knowing how much and what sort of litter is out there can help authorities determine where it comes from and how to prevent it.

By participating in the Beach/River Sweep, JB CHS personnel not only contributed to the actual cleanup, they also saw firsthand the problem of aquatic debris ... the effects on the beautiful creeks and river banks as well as the threat it poses to wildlife. But most importantly, JB CHS's reports, together with those from all across the state, may help pinpoint the sources of the litter problem and help work toward a solution to this chronic problem.