Japan announced earlier this month it planned to release treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean in two years.

The decision, long speculated at but delayed for years because of safety worries and protests, came during a meeting of Cabinet ministers who endorsed the ocean release as the best option.

The question is whether the treated radioactive water will have any impact on Humboldt Bay. The answer, experts and government agencies say, is not much.

“If this water is released, it will increase the radioactive load in the immediate environment (around the nuclear site), and although the amounts may be relatively low, it will prolong the recovery of this area,” said Steven L. Manley, a professor emeritus at Long Beach State University. 

“If released, it would take over a year to find its way to the waters off Humboldt and significant dilution will occur. The scientist from (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) measured very small amounts (but measurable) of Fukushima radionuclides reaching (Humboldt County’s) coastline from the initial disastrous release. Kelp Watch found no detectable increase in kelp tissue from our shores (Alaska to Mexico) of the radionuclides that traveled the currents from Fukushima.”

Jennifer Kalt, the executive director of Humboldt Baykeeper, said she is more concerned about the people of Japan and their safety than of treated radioactive water making its way to Humboldt Bay.

But she added she’s happy there is no longer a nuclear plant locally.

“The stakes are way too high,” she said. ”I’m glad people watchdogged the power plant here and got rid of it many years ago.”

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As the world celebrates Earth Day 2021, local experts warn the historic Arcata dikes holding back Humboldt Bay will be overtopped monthly, possibly in as soon as 30 years, due to rising sea level from climate change. 
"There is no stopping sea level rise for the next century or next couple of centuries," said Aldaron Laird, an environmental planner specializing in local sea level rise who is currently working with Greenway Partners on several local projects. "It's just going to keep right on going."

Wiyot Tribe Natural Resource Specialist Adam Canter said Arcata has a site on McDaniel Slough that is at risk — one of 52 Indigenous cultural sites around Humboldt Bay that could be inundated in the coming decades.

Jennifer Kalt, director of Humboldt Baykeeper, identified three sites in Arcata that are at risk of tidal inundation in the coming decades that have tested positive for dioxin contamination: one on Janes Creek, another on Butchers Slough and the former Little Lakes Industries site off I Street near the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary. 
Last year the Arcata City Council voted to submit an application for a federal assessment grant of $300,000 for the same property and received the grant earlier this year.Last year the Arcata City Council voted to submit an application for a federal assessment grant of $300,000 for the same property and received the grant earlier this year.
Arcata Community Development Director David Loya said he is hopeful that the city will get the cleanup grant and the cleanup will begin as early as this fall, but he anticipates next summer is more likely.
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The Eureka City Council is set to consider a letter from the mayor to the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, a subdivision of the California Environmental Protection Agency, regarding a potential water contamination hazard.

The letter expresses concern over the now-defunct McNamara and Peepe Lumber Mill site, as the department issued an imminent and substantial determination for the site in April 2008, with little progress being made in addressing the pollutants on site.

The letter urges action from the DTSC and other state agencies in cleaning up the site to prevent the water supply from becoming contaminated, as the money allocated by the department for the McNamara and Peepe Lumber Mill site will only be spent on investigating the site.

Brian Gerving, Eureka’s director of public works, said, “There hasn’t been any evidence of any contamination or any degradation of the safety of the city’s drinking water. We just want to ensure that (contamination) does not happen, and that’s why we want the DTSC to better prioritize the cleanup of the McNamara and Peepe site.”

The city of Eureka posted its last drinking water consumer confidence report in 2019, available at https://bit.ly/3bEBP58.

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Listen to the interview on KMUD News at https://soundcloud.com/kmudnews/state-moves-to-protect-humboldt-bay-area-drinking-water
A state agency is reinvigorating efforts to prevent dioxins at a former lumber mill site from reaching the Mad River and the drinking water supply of 88,000 county residents.
Of concern is potentially migrating dioxins from pentachlorophenol (PCP), a wood preservative that was used at the mill site prior to Blue Lake Forest Products’ ownership.
The old mill site is about a mile upstream from Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District intake wells and the contamination has been a lingering issue. The district has opposed the area’s industrial zoning and subsequent cannabis manufacturing permits.
Jen Kalt, Humboldt Baykeeper’s executive director, said the new round of testing will include a tributary of Hall Creek, which flows into the Mad River.
“The fact that the groundwater elevation has risen 15 feet since 2003 is really concerning, because that could be pushing the plume of dioxin contamination toward the Mad River,” said Kalt.
Results of the sampling are expected this spring. Timing of a clean-up remediation plan is uncertain but Kalt said Humboldt Baykeeper will press for action.
“It’s been a fairly long time that this site has been threatening the drinking water supply in the Mad River and there’s just no excuse for any additional delays,” she continued.
She added, “There are a lot of contaminated sites around the state but this one is the highest priority in Humboldt County at this point, because of the drinking water.”
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State Senator Mike McGuire held a town hall meeting on Thursday to discuss the Great Redwood Trail, which will eventually take its place alongside the likes of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail as an iconic American trail.
The board of the NCRA, which will soon transition into a trail authority, directed its staff to submit the necessary paperwork to the federal Surface Transportation Board.
In December, McGuire introduced legislation to dismantle the supremely dysfunctional NCRA and create the nation’s longest rail-to-trail. Senate Bill 69, he said, “will officially, and once and for all, disband the North Coast Railroad Authority, which is a hot mess and is bankrupt.” In its place the bill would create the Great Redwood Trail Authority and empower it to construct and operate eponymous pathway.
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