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Dispatch from Lattvia 


In her thought-provoking cover story last week about brownfield cleanup around the Humboldt Bay, I'm curious why Heidi Walters didn't probe Caryn Woodhouse of the Regional Water Quality Board deeper about how they screwed up, big time, with authorizing a cleanup plan for Simpson Plywood that left levels of dioxin 50,000 times the allowable level at the site (where the flea market used to be held), before walking away and calling things good ("Sympathy for the Brownfield," Aug. 26). An excellent question might have been: "Why must a private watchdog group like Humboldt Baykeeper come in to do your job for you?"

As for the Balloon Track, the hearing held Monday, Aug. 30, in San Francisco will no doubt be mighty interesting, where SN will finally be called to task on its refusal to adhere to a standard of minimal legal cleanup for its desired commercial development of the Balloon Track into (mostly) a Home Depot surrounded by a giant blacktop parking lot. It's unfortunate that SN's courageous attorney, Michelle Smith, wasn't able to return your call; no doubt it had to do with the imminence and sensitivity of that court date. Stay tuned, folks, the fat lady has yet to sing. Hope y'all can cover it.

The story wasn't bad, but your characterizations of critics of the Marina Center might have been more apt and accurate had you been a bit more familiar with state law as it pertains to the actual cleanup proposed by SN for the Balloon Track, instead of relying on people like Randy Gans of Security National to characterize it for you. A good place to start is the eleven-page report that breaks it all down in simple terms from the staffers at the California Coastal Commission (yep, the ones who you characterized as somehow going beyond the pale to speak up and object to the Coastal Act being violated in five or six ways by SN's proposed "we'll grade the place, bury the toxins, then we'll do some testing" plan.)

Thanks for at least bringing to the public's attention the very hot and controversial issues surrounding brownfield cleanup around the Humboldt Bay.


Neal Latt, Eureka

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