Pacific Seafoods-Eureka is set to pay a USD 74,500 (EUR 63,411) penalty as part of a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency over Clean Water Act violations, according to an EPA press release.

 

A 2018 inspection by the EPA, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, and Eureka’s Public Works Department revealed that Pacific was found discharging wastewater into Eureka, California’s sewage system, and Eureka Slough in Humboldt Bay without an appropriate permit.

 

The EPA found that Pacific’s violations included “wastewater from the indoor shrimp processing area bypassing the facility's pretreatment system … wastewater from the de-shelling process was observed entering a storm drain; and the company was discharging the water used to rinse off oysters and crabs directly into the Eureka Slough."

 

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The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday held off making a decision on the rebuilding of a controversial billboard after complicated questions emerged about the structure’s legality and environmental effects.

After a lengthy, often tense discussion, the supervisors postponed a decision to its Aug. 18 meeting, finding that county staff needs more time to investigate the billboard’s effects on the surrounding environment.

Staff had supported approving the rebuild — even after the county planning commission in May went against staff recommendation to deny the permit — but flipped at the eleventh hour after Planning and Building director John Ford said that a conversation with the project engineer that very morning had introduced new information about the billboard’s structural features.

Specifically, Ford said the billboard would dig additional holes in the wetlands, which wasn’t in the plans Ford had previously reviewed and needed further review to establish certainty.

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On the surface, the question was simple. Should Eureka’s AllPoints Sign Company be allowed to rebuild this thing? The advertising plank — some version of which has been in this spot for more than 60 years — blew over in a November windstorm, and AllPoints owner Geoff Wills wants to re-erect it.

Beneath the surface, however, lies a bureaucratic thicket of rules and regulations, raising questions about everything from potential environmental impacts to permit histories, engineering plans, agency jurisdictions and more. 

The staff report recommended approving the project — both at the Planning Commission meeting and again for today’s meeting. But after the public comment period, Ford reversed course. He said that his conversation with the project’s engineer this morning provided new information that hadn’t previously been considered.

“There could be up to 18 new holes dug that could be up to three feet in diameter within a wetland environment,” he said. “This has not been the context within which this [project] has been assessed.” That being the case, he said, “It would be my recommendation to not approve [the Planning Commission ruling] appeal or the special permit without having that additional information at least.”

Supervisor Mike Wilson’s motion to continue the matter to the board’s Aug. 18 meeting passed 3-2, giving county staff time to explore a host of unanswered (or insufficiently answered) questions, including:

  • the potential environmental impacts of digging foundation holes;

  • potential tribal concerns with those concrete footings;

  • any jurisdictional concerns from the State Lands Agency;

  • possible issues pertaining to public trust resources; and

  • the status of the original CalTrans Outdoor Advertising permit for the billboard.

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On July 28, the Board of Supervisors will decide whether an old billboard that collapsed last winter should be allowed to be rebuilt under the guise of grandfathering in mistakes of the past. Join us in urging the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to uphold the Planning Commission denial of this permit so that there is one less billboard blighting the beautiful Elk River wetlands and the southern gateway to Eureka.

Click HERE to sign the petition.

New flood maps released by a research and technology nonprofit show more homes in the United States are at risk of flooding than what’s reflected by the government’s flood risk maps.

The First Street Foundation’s flood model identifies 14.6 million properties that have substantial flood risk, which is 6 million, or 70%, more properties than classified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s map of special flood hazard zones, according to a press release from the nonprofit. More properties, including those in Eureka, Arcata and Fortuna, are going to be at increased risk of flooding over the course of the next 15 and 30 years, the maps show.

“This discrepancy exists because the Foundation uses current climate data, maps precipitation as a stand-alone risk, and includes areas that FEMA has not mapped,” the release states. “When adjusting for future environmental factors like changing sea levels, warming sea surface and atmospheric temperatures, and changing precipitation patterns, the Foundation’s model finds the number of properties with substantial risk grows to 16.2 million by the year 2050.”

Roughly 493 properties are already at risk in Eureka and 778, or 57.8% more and 7% of total properties, will be at risk within 30 years, according to the model.

In Arcata, approximately 641 properties are already at risk and 921 will be at risk within 30 years, representing a 43.7% increase and 18% of total properties, according to the model.

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