7/28/20 — Community members in the Calpella area are concerned for their health. They are worried that emissions from the Mendocino Forest Products wood pellet plant are putting them at greater risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.
Although the plant currently meets the official air quality requirements, a group of local activists and statewide organizations have begun a campaign to close the plant for the duration of the pandemic, and have drafted a letter to the Air District, the Board of Supervisors, and multiple state agencies laying out their requests.
A recent nationwide study from Harvard’s T.H. Chan school of public health, which has not yet been peer reviewed, found a connection between air pollution over numerous years and increased mortality rates from COVID-19. They cited an 8 percent increase in mortality from coronavirus for every 1 microgram per cubic meter increase in air pollution. Many Americans breathe air with 8 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate matter.
The coalition, which includes, among others, Social Environmental Indigenous Justice (SEIJ), Environmental Protection Information Center, The Willits Environmental Center and Climate Action Mendocino, has drafted a letter requesting that the plant’s operations be shut down during the pandemic. The alliance plans on sending the letter to the Mendocino County Air Quality Control Management District, the Board of Supervisors, the California Department of Justice, the state Air Resources Board, and the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the next few days.