Aldaron Laird has been studying the effects of sea level rise on the Humboldt Bay for the past 10 years. He says that Humboldt Bay is experiencing the fastest rate of sea level rise on the West Coast because the bay sits on a tectonic plate that is being pulled down as the sea level rises. Laird told the Outpost that over the past 100 years or so the waters around the bay have risen around 12 to 18 inches. 

 

About 75 percent of the shoreline around the bay is artificially made, with a majority of it being earthen dikes from the late 1800s. Laird said there are 41 miles of dikes and that they are nearing a critical moment. 

 

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The small, coastal community of King Salmon in Humboldt County, California is likely at the highest risk of relative sea-level rise on the entire U.S. West Coast. Relative sea-level rise includes vertical land motion, in addition to changes in water level. King Salmon experiences rising waters at a rate nearly three times the global average because the land is sinking due to tectonic activity (earthquakes).
This community experiences flooding regularly, today. Like the rest of the world, it’s projected to get worse, and at an accelerated rate. In addition to water intruding from the Humboldt Bay, King Salmon also experiences flooding when groundwater rises with changing tides and storm surges. Plus there’s a nuclear plant there that ceased operations in 1976, where spent nuclear fuel is still stored on site, vulnerable to inundation. The average income within the community remains low, so many are unable to afford adaptation methods, multiplying the threat of rising seas. 

As scientists throughout the world describe the mounting impacts from climate change and the accelerating timeline in which they’re expected, KEET sits down with three local experts to discuss what Humboldt County can expect in the decades ahead. The county, these officials warn, will be among the worst hit in the state.

Tune in to this week's Podship Earth, hosted by Jared Blumenfeld, California Secretary for Environmental Protection, and Sara Aminzadeh, California Coastal Commissioner and former Executive Director of the California Coastkeeper Alliance

Baykeeper's Jen Kalt talks about the Humboldt Bay area, which is experiencing twice the rate of sea level rise as the state average.

Staff members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — at least those well-spoken gentlemen who hosted a public meeting on Aug. 26 at the Wharfinger Building — would assure you that the nuclear waste should be very far down on that worry list. But some members of the public would tell you otherwise. That clash of viewpoints made for a very interesting two hours.

 

The original purpose of the meeting was to satisfy some pro forma requirement for public interaction, a necessary task to check a box on a bureaucratic to-do list. However, not a half hour in, some very concerned folks had seized control of the agenda and were letting the NRC and the PG&E public relations officer know exactly what they thought — and feared — about the legacy of Humboldt's experiment with nuclear energy.

 

In the 1950s, atomic energy was touted as the solution to all America's energy needs. In 1960, PG&E began construction of a nuclear power plant next to its existing conventional power plant at King Salmon. It went on line in 1962 at a cost of $33 million. Fifteen years later, PG&E took the plant off line, estimating at that time the cost of decommissioning would be $382 million. Fortunately, rate-payers had been contributing to this fund each month as we paid our monthly power bills. Apparently, we will continue to be paying for quite some time, as the final cost of decommissioning is now estimated at more than $1 billion.

 

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