AM News for Tuesday, 11.19.13
The United States EPA has taken over the Samoa pulp mill site and initiated an emergency response to remove millions of gallons of caustic liquids, much of which are currently stored in failing tanks.
EPA is now working on a plan to remove more than 4 million gallons of pulping liquors from the site. Adding urgency is a constant fear that a large earthquake could lead to a potentially disastrous spill into the sensitive habitat of Humboldt Bay.
EPA federal on-scene coordinator Steve Calanog On Sept. 30, he officially initiated an emergency response action, federalizing the site under EPA's control.
The largest concern was that the tanks housing the pulping liquors -- which have a pH of 13 or higher -- were built in the 1960s and that some of the tanks' roofs were damaged, meaning rain water was leaking in, raising levels and increasing pressure on the tanks.
Calanog said the liquors could be seen seeping out of the sides of tanks.
A pulp mill in Longview, Wash., has agreed to reuse the liquors, and, the district contracted with a barge company that can handle the material. With the largest chemical barge available only able to transport 1.5 million gallons at a time, Calanog said the project will necessitate three shipments from Humboldt to Longview -- a 400-mile voyage.
In a conference call with reporters Friday, California Department of Conservation Director Mark Nechodom released the draft rules for fracking that he said would strike a balance between strong safeguards and ensuring that California's oil and gas industry can "remain productive and competitive."
The release of the draft rules kicks off a yearlong process, with the goal of having final regulations in place by Jan. 1, 2015.
The draft rules released on Friday will require well operators to notify people living near new wells, create a groundwater monitoring regime, spur a statewide scientific review of fracking and mandate disclosure of the types and concentrations of chemicals used in fracking.
Despite the chemical disclosure requirement, the new law allows companies to invoke trade secret protections in some cases.
In the year before final regulations take effect, well operators will need to certify to regulators in advance that they are in compliance. Starting in 2015, they will need to go through a specific permitting process that could trigger environmental review.
Rich Russell, the commander of the to Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, believes that one of every two people in the county are growers, sellers, brokers or trimmers in the underground marijuana industry.
While local market saturation means a grower can get between $1,200 and $2,000 at the most in Mendocino County for a pound of trimmed, dried bud, the same pound would fetch up to $5,000 per pound from an East Coast buyer, according to Russell.
"More and more, what we're seeing is that people are moving here to grow, and they export it to their home state for more money," Russell said, describing what he sees as a swelling trend. "I've been here six years, and it's doubled every year I've been here."
The Task Force finds most of the indoor gardens it eventually raids by following up on leads from out-of-state law enforcement agencies, according to Russell.
Another disturbing trend, he said, is that the Mexican nationals found tending illicit marijuana gardens primarily in the forests and on public lands in years prior "are moving to urban areas and growing indoors or in their back yards."
Thanks to Tiffany Revelle and the UDJ.
Dr. Matteo Garbelotto, of UC Berkeley Forest Pathology laboratory, will discuss the latest research findings on Sudden Oak Death at the Fort Bragg Town Hall, 6:30 pm, Wednesday, November 20th.