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One man makes a difference:

Tony Frantz stands by a fort of logs at Double Bluff beach. Much of the timber on area beaches comes from creosote-soaked pilings and docks that have washed ashore. The chemical compound, creosote is a known carcinogen.  - Gayle Saran
Tony Frantz stands by a fort of logs at Double Bluff beach. Much of the timber on area beaches comes from creosote-soaked pilings and docks that have washed ashore. The chemical compound, creosote is a known carcinogen.
— image credit: Gayle Saran

The South Whidbey man known as “Mr. Creosote” was honored recently by the state Senate for his efforts to rid beaches of creosote, a known carcinogen.

Tony Frantz, whose personal mission it is to rid Puget Sound beaches of creosote-soaked logs, was honored by a resolution adopted by the Washington State Senate recently. Thanks to his efforts, beaches from Whidbey Island to Bellingham are being cleaned up.

Frantz, a Freeland resident, discovered a resolution by chance.

“I found out accidently by searching Google,” he said. “I hit my name and almost fell of my chair when I read it.

“It’s an awesome honor,” he said.

The resolution adopted on March 31 says in part the state senate honors Tony Frantz for his dedication and energy in cleaning up creosote on the beaches of western Washington and for proving that one person can be the change they wish to see in the world.

Resolution 8668 was introduced by state Senator Mary Margaret Margaret Haugen (D-10th District) and five other senators, who honored Frantz for his personal mission to rid Sound beaches of the nasty substance.

Frantz, a bulkhead contractor, began his creosote crusade four years ago. He was hospitalized when his immune system was damaged and his intestines were infected by creosote through inhalation while at work repairing a rock wall. That experience sparked his one-man campaign. He began by researching the affects of creosote on humans and marine life.

What he discovered was creosote is a cancer causing pesticide that threatens the health of people the health of forage fish. Creosote can kill 95 percent of fish eggs laid next to a treated log; the remaining five will have mutations.

Frantz created the Puget Sound Creosote Awareness Project to help educate the public about the hazards of creosote.

He began a steady, and at times lonely campaign of warning residents, elected officials, bureaucrats, media and environmental groups of the dangers of coming into contact with creosote-soaked wood. His dedication paid off. In the ensuing years, Frantz has been the inspiration for cleanup efforts on Whidbey Island and in Whatcom County. Thanks to his behind-the-scene efforts, and funding from state agencies, 36 tons of toxic timber was removed from the beach by helicopters at Fort Casey in a joint effort by State Parks, the Department of Natural Resources and Northwest Straits Commission.

Frantz hopes to see a similar effort later this month on Double Bluff Beach. Last year he tied 300 red balloons to some of the affected logs at Double Bluff to demonstrate how prevalent the problem is. On a recent walk on Double Bluff Beach, Frantz pointed out the hundreds of logs and timbers of all sizes soaked with the oily-scented material.

“Warm weather makes the creosote ooze out,” Frantz said.

Frantz pointed out several “forts” built with tainted logs.

“Kids come down here and come into contact with creosote logs when they build forts or beach fires,” he said. “They don’t realize how dangerous it is.”

He has been dismantling some of the kid-built structures and moving the tainted wood and timbers closer to an access road in anticipation of the Double Bluff clean-up project.

“I can’t wait to get started,” he said.

Although creosote is no longer used as a wood preservative, thousands of treated logs, telephone poles, pilings and docks are washed up on beaches everyday.

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