Editorial: One man can make a difference

Add another name to the list or people who proved that despite all odds, “one man (or woman) can make a difference.”

Last week 36 tons of creosote-soaked logs were hauled by hand and helicopter from the beach at Fort Casey, in a joint effort by State Parks, the Department of Natural Resources and Northwest Straits Commission.

Not mentioned in the official publicity was the name of Tony Frantz, a Whidbey Island resident who lives in Freeland and who about five years ago set out single-handedly to rid the Puget Sound region of creosote soaked logs. Franz, a heavy construction worker, felt that his own health had been affected by creosote poisons and he didn’t want it to happen to others. Upon researching the topic, he learned that creosote, a coal tar derivative, contains dozens of cancer-causing agents that are also deadly to fish eggs and other sealife.

Frantz set about hectoring the local press for attention and doing the same to various county and state agencies. He tied balloons to creasote logs lying on the beach at Double Bluff to visually demonstrate the problem. He hauled some logs off the beach himself in an effort to gain publicity.

In the ensuing months and years, Frantz has sparked creosote cleanup efforts from Bellingham to southern Whidbey Island. More are planned for later this spring at Fort Ebey State Park and Double Bluff. State agencies are finding cleanup money to greatly boost the effort.

Although creosote as a wood preservative has been outlawed for some years, thousands of treated logs that were once telephone polls, bulkheads, docks, or pilings still stand or are washed up on our beaches where they ooze poison, kill sealife and pose a health hazard to humans.

But at least now the problem is identified and serious efforts are being made to eliminate creosote logs in Puget Sound.

Without Tony Frantz, it likely would never have happened. Who said one man can’t make a difference?

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