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March 31, 2005
PULP MILL VARIANCE
OK'D: A judicial board that oversees
the North Coast Unified Air Quality District last week approved
Evergreen Pulp's request to emit particulate pollution above
and beyond its permitted limits. In a hearing Wednesday, Evergreen
CEO David Tsang explained that the company needed an exemption
from the limits because in February, shortly after the company
took over the Stockton Pacific mill, it discovered that two large,
complex devices designed to remove pollution from the mill's
plume had been out of compliance for months. Tsang said that
the company would need time to diagnose and fix the problem.
For his part, Lawrence Odle, the district pollution control officer,
said that the added pollution was unlikely to amount to a serious
health concern, and he praised Evergreen's efforts to bring the
mill back into compliance. He also favorably contrasted Evergreen's
efforts to work with the district to those of the mill's previous
owners. "Mr. Tsang has brought a degree of professionalism
that we have not seen with L-P or Stockton Pacific," Odle
said. The board granted Evergreen an "interim variance"
that will allow the mill to operate out of compliance until May;
next month it will take up the question of whether to extend
the variance to Dec. 31. Particulate pollution is not responsible
for odors that longtime residents associate with pulp mill operations,
as the Journal incorrectly reported last week. However,
human error was recently responsible for an especially noxious
smell discharge, and district staff reported at the meeting that
Evergreen had agreed to pay a $10,000 fine related to that incident.
HSU WINS HYDROGEN POWER
CONTEST: Humboldt State students
were awarded the grand prize from the National Hydrogen Association
at an international competition this week in Washington, D.C.,
according to the NHA. Ten HSU students traveled to the nation's
capital to present their design for a hydrogen power park that
would use the gas from the Cummings Road landfill in Eureka.
Professor Charles Chamberlin, co-director of the Schatz Energy
Lab, said Tuesday that the students' plan calls for placing the
park on the Eureka waterfront, where hydrogen-powered cars could
gas up, and excess hydrogen fuel would be stored and shipped
to the Silicon Valley. Also, the hotels slated for construction
on the waterfront would get their heat from electricity generated
by the hydrogen power park. Contest runners-up were Cornell University
and the University of Waterloo in Canada.
NAS: NUKE PLANTS UNSAFE:
Citing national security concerns,
experts say that it is unsafe to hold spent nuclear fuel in underwater
holding facilities, according to an article in the Sunday edition
of the Washington Post. Excerpts of classified reports
are the source of the public debate, fueling a feud between the
National Academy of Sciences and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
over whether or not spent nuclear fuel should be kept in dry
casks rather than submerged in water. According to reports cited
in the article, the NAS claims that underwater storage is not
as safe as the dry cask method and therefore makes the plants
with fuel pools targets for terrorist attacks. Pacific Gas &
Electric's Humboldt Bay Power Plant in Eureka is home to 390
nuclear fuel rods that have been stored underwater since the
1960s, but to say that Humboldt County's safety is at risk is
a stretch, according to PG&E spokesman Jeff Lewis. The nuclear
fuel at the local plant is old, Lewis said, and therefore no
longer a great source of heat, so the threat of a large nuclear
fuel fire happening here is highly unlikely. "It is still
radioactive, but it can't get hot like younger fuel can. It wouldn't
run the risk that [national experts] are talking about,"
Lewis said. Still, the nuke rods are scheduled to be moved into
dry casks in 2009, Lewis said. The plan is to then ship the fuel
to another site in Nevada, possibly Yucca Mountain.
STUDENTS WANT SUSTAINABLE
ENERGY: Despite the fact that a
student majority voted last spring to hike tuition by $10 per
semester to fund a plan that would make Humboldt State 100 percent
energy independent by the year 2043, the California State University's
chancellor nixed the proposal. Now, almost a year later, the
Students for Energy Independence are not letting the issue die,
and have urged the Arcata City Council and county Board of Supervisors
to write letters to Chancellor Charles Reed on their behalf.
"[Reed] didn't throw out the plan entirely, he just wouldn't
sign it," said HSU student Laura Salerno. Colleen Bentley-Adler,
a spokeswoman for the chancellor's office, said that Reed did
not sign the Humboldt Energy Independence Fund because the CSU
system has been in financial straits, and tuition costs were
already raised last year. The extra fee for the energy fund would
have been an extra burden for students, Adler said. Salerno disagreed,
saying that students who are financially strapped can waive the
$10 fee. The energy plan would also benefit the university's
ailing enrollment rates, she said, by attracting throngs of eco-friendly
students who like the idea of making the university's electricity
meter spin backward. If the plan is implemented this semester,
HSU will become the first public school in the country to attempt
to become 100 percent energy independent, Salerno said.
BIG WAVE EXPERT ON NOVA:
HSU Geology Professor Lori Dengler,
an often-cited local source on earthquake phenomena, is sharing
her expertise on a national level this week on an online Q&A
forum for the popular PBS science show NOVA. The forum, called
"Ask the Expert," coincides with the show's airing
of The Wave That Shook the World, which explores the science
behind the Indian Ocean tsunami that killed close to 200,000
people in December. Even before the show debuted on Tuesday,
e-mail queries began to pour into Dengler's inbox. "There's
been an interesting mix [of questions]" Dengler said. "Some
were typical but some were unsusual, too," she said. And
Monday's 8.7 magnitude earthquake off Sumatra has thrown a new
element into Dengler's online responses -- she had to revise
some of her feedback to include information on the recent quake.
The show will be repeated Friday, April 1, at noon, and Saturday,
April 2, at 5 p.m. on KEET-TV Channel 13.
PEPPER SPRAY CASE BACK
TO COURT: The "Pepper Spray
Eight" lawsuit against the county is scheduled to go back
to trial on April 11 in the San Francisco courtroom of federal
Judge Susan Illston. The suit stems from a series of incidents
in late 1997 in which local police swabbed the spray directly
into the eyes of protestors. The suit has twice been tried in
federal court, once in 1998 and once last year; both times, the
juries in the case deadlocked. Vernell "Spring" Lundberg,
one of the activists involved, said Monday that she believes
the suit will be successful this time around, not least because
she and her co-plaintiffs can present testimony from a police
practices expert who is prepared to call use of the spray "excessive
force." "I think that'll be the clincher in this, because
they'll be able to see a police officer that agrees with us,"
she said. On Sunday, Lundberg and others will appear at a benefit
showing of "The Forest for the Trees: Judi Bari v. the FBI,"
a new documentary film about the 2002 Earth First! lawsuit against
the FBI and the city of Oakland. The film's director, Bernadine
Mellis, is the daughter of Dennis Cunningham, lead attorney for
the plaintiffs in both the Bari lawsuit and the pepper spray
case. The film plays at 8 p.m. at Arcata's Minor Theatre. Tickets
HOT JAZZ TICKETS:
Beware to those who have scalped
tickets to this weekend's jazz festival in Eureka. In December,
160 Redwood Coast Jazz Festival tickets were stolen from The
Works music store in Eureka along with $500 cash. Since each
ticket has an individual number, concert organizers know which
ones were stolen. Staff will check the numbers at the gate, and
those who have a ticket from the stolen batch will be turned
WEIRD AIRPLANE CIRCLES
MCKINLEYVILLE: A huge white passenger
jet circled low around downtown McKinleyville early last Thursday
morning, conducting a series of awkward-looking maneuvers and
scaring the bejeezus out of at least one witness. After touring
the town, the plane made what looked like an aborted landing
attempt at the Eureka-Arcata Airport then flew off into the distance.
Emily Jacobs, the airport's program coordinator, said last week
that the plane was a Boeing 707 belonging to the U.S. Air Force,
which once a year or so uses Eureka-Arcata as a training location
for its pilots. In this instance, said Jacobs, the pilot was
practicing recovery from a "missed approach" -- a botched
STUDENT WINS INTERNATIONAL
PRIZE: Eureka pianist Ryan MacEvoy-McCullough,
an 18-year-old Humboldt State student, brought home first prize
in an international competition devoted to the works of one of
his favorite composers, the 20th-century Pole, Milosz Magin,
in Paris earlier this month. Last year MacEvoy-McCullough
was invited to perform several Magin pieces on "From the
Top," a nationally syndicated public radio show. Audio of
his rendition of three avant-garde preludes and a whimsical polka
can be found on the show's Web site, fromthetop.org.
Follow the links in the program's archives to show #96, which
was recorded on Feb. 8, 2004.
WATCH FOR THOSE FAKES:
Eureka Police are urging local
businesses to be on the alert for counterfeit money orders and
$100 bills circulating around Humboldt County. Postal money orders,
being passed mostly at banks, are of high quality but can also
be easily detected, police said. The good money orders have a
white American eagle with a purple background; the fake ones
will have a purple eagle on a white background. The counterfeit
bills pass the "pen test," but one of the bills, an
altered $5 bill, has a "USA $5" on the security strip.
The other has a mistake in the lower left corner: In the sentence,
"This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private,"
the comma after "debts" is missing.
FLY THE CHRISTIAN SKIES:
Freshwater resident Walt Frazer
was shocked to find a religious placard on his meal tray on a
recent Alaska Airlines flight from Orlando to Seattle. The card,
about the size of a baseball card, pictured a beautiful sunset
with the verse of a psalm, "I will praise God's name in
song and glorify Him with thanksgiving." On the bottom of
the card were the words, "Alaska Airlines." Though
it was new to Frazer, an airline spokesman said Monday that the
cards have been distributed on cross-country Alaska flights since
the 1980s, when Bruce Kennedy served as chairman of the company.
"It's had an interesting kind of reaction," said Sam
Sperry. "It runs the gamut of opinion." Sperry added
that the distribution of the cards would be discontinued as soon
as the current stock runs out, as part of "an aggressive
RANCHERIA SETTLES WORKERS'
COMP SUIT: The Blue Lake Rancheria
has settled its year-long legal dispute with the state Department
of Industrial Relations regarding one of its companies, staffing
firm Mainstay Business Solutions. According to a press release
issued late Tuesday, the rancheria has agreed to drop its claim
that its tribal sovereignty frees it from having to provide workers'
compensation insurance for its employees. "We are looking
forward to this new era in our company's business operations,"
said Mainstay CEO Michael Hansen. For background, see "Turf
Battle," Dec. 18, 2003.
plan too industry-heavy?
by HANK SIMS
Humboldt Bay is many things
to many people -- a shipping terminus, an oyster farm, a pleasant
place to kayak on a Sunday afternoon, or all of those things
The fact that so many people
use the bay, sometimes for wildly different purposes, can make
managing it for the greater good terrifically complex. But after
seven years of work, Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation
District officials believe they are on the verge of a long-term
Earlier this month, the district
released a four-volume, several-hundred-page draft version of
its Management Plan, a document meant to guide the future of
California's second-largest natural bay. The document is the
result of years of research, most of which was led by a 19-member
volunteer group representing a wide variety of interested citizens.
But as an April 15 deadline
for public comment on the draft plan approaches, a number of
groups and individuals are scrutinizing the particulars of the
plan -- and some have concerns about what they are finding.
Christine Ambrose, a planning
consultant who serves as "coastal advocate" for the
Garberville-based Environmental Protection Information Center,
said Monday that she perceived the plan to be stacked heavily
in favor of industrial development of the bay.
"Humboldt Bay is a treasure
in terms of natural resources," she said. "Would it
really be best served as an industrial port? And frankly, is
it realistic? I'd like to see the harbor district take a wider,
more open vision of what could be possible for Humboldt Bay in
terms of appropriate, sustainable development."
Ambrose also questioned why
the district would only allow a few weeks for public comment
on the plan, given its length and complexity.
But David Hull, the district's
chief executive officer, said there will still be ample time
for the public to assess and question details of the plan in
upcoming months, as he and his staff prepare required environmental
reports ahead of the plan's final adoption by the district's
board of commissioners.
"The process of collecting
comments now is really sort of an extra step," he said.
Hull added that he thought criticism
of the plan's alleged bias toward industry was unfounded. He
said that the district is mandated by law to address all potential
uses of the bay, and that issues such as recreation, aquaculture
and environmental protection are each given adequate representation
in the document.
"The bottom line is that
it really is a balanced plan," he said. "And it really
is an unfair assessment to say that we only focus on the harbor."
The nonprofit Humboldt Bay Stewards
will hold an informational workshop on the management plan on
Tuesday, April 5, between 1:30 and 5 p.m., at the Humboldt Area
Foundation's headquarters, 373 Indianola Road, Bayside.
The full plan is available for
downloading at the district's Web site, humboldtbay.org. Hard
copies can be reviewed at the Eureka or Arcata libraries. In
addition, the Bay Stewards have made a limited number of CD-ROM
versions of the plan, which can be requested by e-mailing Mike
Buettner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments on the plan can be
mailed to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation
District, P.O. Box 1030, Eureka, California 95502-1030.
Marine portrayed in exhibit
The Eureka Marine who was killed in Iraq shortly
after the start of the war was among more than 1,000 service
men and women honored in an art exhibit that opened in Washington,
D.C., last week.
Capt. Andrew David LaMont, 31,
son of former Eureka City Councilman James LaMont, died May 19,
2003, when his CH-46 Sea-Knight helicopter went down shortly
after takeoff in the Shatt Al Hillah Canal.
The "Faces of the Fallen"
art exhibit opened March 23 in the Women in Military Service
For America Memorial at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery
and will be on display through Sept. 5. Created by portraitist
and art teacher Annette Polan, it consists of portraits created
by more than 150 artists from photographs of those who have died
in Afghanistan and Iraq. Organizers hope to tour the exhibit
to different locations around the country if they can raise the
funds to do so.
According to PBS's The NewsHour
with Jim Lehrer, LaMont's portrait was painted by Washington
artist Mary Challinor. "There was something about the photograph
that was able to capture both a dignity and a wistfulness,"
she said on the program, "I think because it was taken by
his sister, as opposed to an official military photograph."
LaMont's sister, Kathleen, told
NewsHour that she took his picture shortly after he became
a Marine officer. "He dressed up in his dress blues, and
wanted a picture of him, so he was on my front porch and I just
remember standing through the front door and having the trees
and the outside surrounding him. And just taking the picture."
LaMont is the only Humboldt
County serviceman killed to date in the war.
Members of LaMont's family could
not be reached for this story.
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