Humboldt not a likely target
Humboldt County's isolated location and lack of big industry makes it an unattractive target for terrorists.
However, due to the presence of a defunct nuclear power plant, the area is not completely a safe haven.
The fact that large ships do not enter Humboldt Bay means the port area is not a security concern, said Ensign Christopher Kendl, with Coast Guard public affairs in McKinleyville.
While Coast Guard stations near large port facilities have stepped up patrols, it's been pretty much business as usual in Humboldt County, Kendl said.
"Even (immediately) after Sept. 11 we concentrated on water safety and search and rescue," he said.
Because the Coast Guard falls under the direction of the U.S. Department of Transportation and not the Navy, even the Coast Guard's role in homeland security has yet to be defined.
It's a different situation at the Humboldt Bay nuclear power plant south of Eureka, shut down since 1976. [photo at right] Since Sept. 11, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has required stepped-up security at the facility because highly radioactive spent fuel rods are stored at the site.
The spent fuel "makes it more of a security concern," said Roger Hannah a spokesman with the NRC.
Hannah said security patrols have been increased, sensitive equipment has been relocated and security barriers have been erected at the 40-year-old site.
The plant is owned by Pacific Gas & Electric. The utility giant is building steel dry casks to store the spent fuel. Installation and transfer of the fuel rods into the casks should be completed by 2005, when
PG & E's plant license expires. The rods could be destined for permanent storage at the U.S. Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain site.
The plant, adjacent to Humboldt Bay, was closed due to the high cost of upgrading it to withstand earthquakes.
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