Marijuana grow soil dumped near Eel River
More than a ton of used marijuana grow soil illegally dumped on the bank of the Eel River near Ferndale was cleaned up and hauled away last week, a Humboldt County Division of Environmental Health press release said.
Soil used in marijuana growing operations is often high in added nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, said Melissa Martel, director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Environmental Health in the release. It becomes detrimental to the environment when it’s allowed to filter into waterways, she said. About 30 bags of the soil were taken to Wes Green Landscape Materials in Arcata, one of the local facilities to accept spent soil for a fee.
”It’s bad for the rivers because it starves the river of oxygen, harms river organisms and can cause fish die-off,” Martel said in the release. “It can also stimulate blue-green algae blooms during certain times of the year in creeks or slower-moving bodies of water.”
Blue-green algae looks like green, blue-green, or white or brown scum mats floating on the water, she said. These floating algae masses, or “blooms,” can produce potent natural toxins. Dogs and children are most likely to be affected because of their smaller body size and tendency to stay in the water for longer periods, the release said.
People are advised to be conservative with the use of fertilizers and pesticides on their lawn, garden or agricultural operation, the
release said. They should recycle spent soil that has been used for intensive growing by tilling it back into gardens or protecting it from rainfall to avoid nutrient runoff.
Staffers with DEH’s Solid Waste Local Enforcement Agency Program perform a variety of services, including investigating illegal dumping. Martel said DEH has seen an increase in the amount of waste in general that is discarded illegally adjacent to rivers, in wooded areas, along roadsides and in other areas around the county.
Samoa, Loleta and parts of Blue Lake have been particularly hit hard by illegal dumping, she said.
”The best management method for spent soil is reuse. Growing vegetable crops in this high-nutrient soil, or mixing it with other soil, may result in high yields,” Martel said.
”When something is dumped inappropriately, it costs agencies and property owners time, resources and money,” Martel said. She said law enforcement should be called if people see others in the act of illegal dumping