The DEIR, prepared for the county by engineering firm GHD, concludes that, with mitigation measures, the project will have no significant environmental impacts. That’s the same conclusion reached in the Initial Study released last April. But environmental stakeholders argue that this finding is based on insufficient baseline data and analysis.
None we spoke to said they’re outright opposed to the project, for which plans to spend millions of dollars further remediating the Humboldt Bay Harbor District’s blighted former pulp mill property on the peninsula. But they’re asking for some modifications and commitments in hopes of lessening the fish farm’s environmental impacts.
If anyone was looking for a reason to doubt the strict veracity of the DEIR, the authors seem to have inadvertently provided one: Deep in the report, on page 53 of Appendix D (Marine Resources), former GHD senior scientist Ken Mierzwa is listed as one of four preparers. Trouble is, he says he was not involved.
In a Feb. 3 email commenting on the DEIR, Mierzwa says he did not contribute to Appendix D or any other part of the report. 
“Without going into detail, I wish to make it clear that I disagree with a number of the statements made in the results and conclusions of Appendix D and carried forward into the EIR,” he writes. “Many items require additional analysis and/or additional mitigation, and I would have refused to put my name on the document as written had I known that it existed.”
Read More

The public has two weeks left to provide input on Nordic Aquafarms’ draft environmental impact report for its proposed onshore fish farm on the Samoa Peninsula.

The project includes clean-up and redevelopment of the defunct Samoa pulp mill facility followed by the construction of five buildings with a combined footprint of approximately 766,000 square feet. 

The behemoth document, which is roughly 1,800 pages long, found no areas in which the proposed farm would have a significant impact on the local environment. The minimal impact of some of the farm’s operations will have mitigating strategies in place, according to the document.

Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper, expressed her gratitude to Nordic for pursuing an EIR but said there is still concern surrounding ocean discharge and the potential to exacerbate toxic algae.

“We appreciate Nordic’s willingness to incorporate additional monitoring after the project is approved, but they used water quality data from inside Humboldt Bay in the model they used to show there won’t be impacts,” Kalt said. “Without relevant data on current conditions closer to the discharge point, it’s unclear how the discharge could alter the ocean environment.”

Delia Bense-Kang, a spokesperson for the Surfrider Foundation, had similar concerns.

“Since the 1991 Surfrider and Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water Act settlement made the pulp mills clean up their operations, the Samoa Peninsula has become one of the most popular surfing and bathing beaches in Humboldt County,” Bense-Kang said. “While the wastewater would not be as toxic as the pulp mills, there are still lots of unknowns such as significantly elevated temperatures of discharge — 68 to 72 degrees — we’d like to see analyzed with better data and modeling.”

Read More

The most vulnerable members of the Wiyot Tribe were asleep the morning of Feb. 26, 1860, when a band of white men slipped into their Northern California villages under darkness and slaughtered them.

Many of the children, women and elderly slain in what became known as the Indian Island Massacre had their eternal rest disturbed when their graves were later dug up and their skeletons and the artifacts buried with them were placed in a museum.

After nearly 70 years of separation from their tribe, the remains of at least 20 of those believed to have been killed have been returned home.

The bones of the Wiyot were recovered in 1953 after being discovered near where a jetty was constructed outside the city of Eureka, 225 miles north of San Francisco…

Read More

Bill now headed to Assembly

Senate Bill 307 is on track for approval after clearing the state Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support Monday.

The bill, introduced by state Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), would block a proposal to restore the defunct North Coast railroad in an attempt to export coal overseas from Montana, Utah and Wyoming through the Port of Humboldt Bay by prohibiting the use of state funds for any new bulk coal terminal project within Humboldt County.

Earlier this month, the Eureka City Council unanimously passed an ordinance banning the transportation of coal on city property.

“Clearly, our council is not a proponent of bringing coal to the harbor,” said Eureka City Manager Miles Slattery. “They made it very clear through a resolution that they don’t want coal handled on city-owned property because of the environmental and potential health effects of that.”

Slattery underscored the city’s support for the proposed Great Redwood Trail and further development of the Waterfront Trail.

“Our elected officials are very much proponents of railbanking and we’re waiting for that to happen so we can extend our waterfront trails,” he said. “That’s been supported by our council since the beginning and we hope that the other state legislators are proponents of it.”

Read More

Scientists, speaking at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans this month, reported that a critical section of the keystone Antarctic glacier, Thwaites Glacier, will likely collapse in the next five to ten years. The research, led by Erin Pettit of Oregon State University, predicts that the Thwaites ice shelf will break apart within the next decade because of startling increases in surface fractures and rifts.
Thwaites Glacier is one the largest Antarctic glaciers, comparable to the size of Great Britain or Florida. Meltwater from Thwaites alone is responsible for 4% of global sea level rise, leading it to receive a great deal of scientific attention in recent years.
The nickname ‘Antarctica’s doomsday glacier’ is given to Thwaites because if the ice shelf collapses, the glacier and the enormous volumes of ice upstream that funnel into the glacier will no longer be restrained from accelerating into the ocean. “It is the potential long-term effect on the rest of the grounded ice sheet that we need to consider,” explains Anne Le Brocq, a senior lecturer in physical geography at the University of Exeter. If the entire glacier were to melt then global sea levels would rise by 65 centimeters, or about two feet. If Thwaites Glacier, and other critical neighboring glaciers such as Pine Island Glacier, cannot hold back the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which holds the equivalent of 3.3 meters (10.8 feet) in sea level, then it could affect coastlines across the world.
Read More