Humboldt Baykeeper update on last nights big Harbor Dist. meeting

baykeeper

Last night before a standing-room only crowd, the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation, and Conservation District board voted 4-0 to accept $5,000 from US Mine Corp. for a 3-month “Exclusive Right to Negotiate” for a large portion of the former Evergreen pulp mill in Samoa. Commissioner Greg Dale was absent.

US Mine Corp. requested a 6-month agreement with options for extensions to explore the idea of building a facility to process ore from unspecified mines and use the waste to manufacture pre-formed concrete products. The public raised questions about water and air pollution, with particular concerns for Humboldt Bay’s fragile ecosystem, wildlife, and fishing industries.

Commissioners voted for a 3-month agreement so the company could provide answers to basic questions about its plans, while allowing the District to continue the search for other potential tenants.

Many speakers focused on concerns about the use of cyanide, which is used to extract gold from ore. Characterized by US Mine Corp’s president A. Scott Docktor as “not that toxic,” cyanide processing was banned in 1998 by voter initiative in the state of Montana, when 85,000 gallons of cyanide-laced water leaked through damaged leach pad liners, killing all life in a 17-mile stretch of Colorado’s Alamosa River.

Others raised fears of dust and particulates, citing decades of air pollution from the two pulp mills and PG&E’s former nuclear power plant.

Humboldt Hill resident Nova Cramer said, “My great grandfather was a gold miner, and I hold the deed to the King Tut mine. But I’m no fan of gold mining – I survived the whaling station, the pulp mills, and the nuclear power plant, and I have a long list of dead people.”

Despite company claims that operations would be entirely inside the pulp mill warehouses, with no discharges to air or water, the public was skeptical.

“No amount of engineering or spill response planning will prevent the level of damage to Humboldt Bay that would occur from a major earthquake,” said Jennifer Kalt of Humboldt Baykeeper.

The Harbor District and US EPA recently removed millions of gallons of caustic chemicals left behind by the previous operator, Evergreen Pulp, a Chinese corporation that was sold to a shell company in 2008. The cleanup has to date cost taxpayers $4 million and is expected to cost $10 million to complete.

Arcata resident Rocky Drill said, “This sounds like another Wall Street project, where a few people make a bunch of money and then leave us to clean up the mess.”

Few questions or concerns raised by the public or the Commissioners were answered. The company’s representatives either did not know or were not forthcoming with specifics about its proposal, saying that they did not know what type of ore it would process, what chemicals would be involved, or even which mines it would serve.

Ralph Faust, retired Coastal Commission Senior Counsel and former Humboldt County Planning Commissioner, advised weighing the opportunity cost of tying up the property “in visions of sugar plums…Is there any suggestion that there’s an approvable project at the end of the tunnel?”

Commissioner Pat Higgins said, “We have very high standards for what’s going to be acceptable, in terms of proposals that are protective of Humboldt Bay – so I don’t have any problem hearing them out.”

Commissioner Mike Wilson requested an amendment to shorten the agreement to 3 months, since there isn’t enough information on the table. “Three months should be enough time to decide whether this is something we want to look at,” he said. “I am concerned about the opportunity cost, and also for how we are marketing this facility and how it fits with our vision.”

Commissioner Richard Marks advised US Mine Corp that the bar is very high for convincing the Humboldt Bay community to keep an open mind about a new toxic industry. “You’re dealing with people who’ve lived with toxic chemicals in their neighborhoods, and aren’t interested in going back to those days.”

Larry Glass, Northcoast Environmental Center President, told the Commissioners, “You haven’t been on our radar for a while, since you haven’t been doing a lot of crazy shit, but you will be now. You’ve been doing a lot of positive projects; this seems like a big distraction.”

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For more info on the history of the pulp mill, its acquisition by the Humboldt Bay Harbor District, and the ongoing cleanup and repurposing:

February 20, 2014 – Jen Kalt interviews elected representatives, public agency staff, scientists, and the public at the Harbor District/HSU open house regarding the future of the former pulp mill.

August 22, 2013 – Jen Kalt interviews Commissioner Mike Wilson about the Humboldt Bay Harbor District’s recent purchase of Samoa Mill Site and future plans as aquaculture and energy research facility.

An extensive history of the Samoa Pulp Mill and its environmental impacts is available at http://westeureka.weebly.com/blog.

DONATE NOW to support our work!

Humboldt Baykeeper
1385 Eighth Street, Suite 228
Arcata, CA 95521
(707) 825-1020
www.humboldtbaykeeper.org

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14 thoughts on “Humboldt Baykeeper update on last nights big Harbor Dist. meeting

  1. “Many speakers focused on concerns about the use of cyanide, which is used to extract gold from ore. Characterized by US Mine Corp’s president A. Scott Docktor as “not that toxic,”…”

    Oh dear. First, I have some doubts if A. Scott Docktor is a real name.

    Second… Ask the survivors of the Bhopal Incident just how “Not that toxic” cyanide is.

    For those not up on the Bhopal Incident; it was a very bad occurrence in a town in India named Bhopal. A chemical processing plant, owned by American corporation Union Carbide, through poor maintenance and neglect, released cyanide gas into the air. Hundreds, if not thousands (I believe they are still arguing the number) died and many more were injured… some maimed for life.

    This is not the way to start the dialog if US Mine Corp. wants to earn the trust of this community.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I had to read that three times to let it get through. No, that wasn’t a really bad joke. It was an opinion from this corporation. Cyanide is not that bad. ‘Oh dear’ it too kind Mola. I think the correct response is, “Are you friggin’ nuts?” Cyanide in water systems kills just about everything it comes in contact with. Cyanide is not just dangerous, it is downright deadly.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Cyanide?…nah, not that toxic’…compared to what?

    Be glad it’s not coal or Uranium they seek here.

    read this sad article about the slimy promises and wordsmithing in selling this coal gasification plant in Mississippi.

    scroll about halfway thru to get the broken promises and the weasel words used to sell the idea, and how it’s worked out.

    Small rural area, poor , few jobs..article here:

    http://exp.grist.org/clean-coal/

    So, when Big Company comes a’selling, watch their lips move, if they do they are lying.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We need jobs and industry up here. Many if not most of our social problems can be tied to the lack of opportunity for people on the North Coast. While this may not be the right fit, it makes perfect sense to hear them out.

    I know this is an unpopular sentiment on this forum, but if you truly want to protect the Humboldt County environment, we need jobs that pay better than the service industry. Jobs that bring in outside money.

    I too am skeptical. Perhaps not for the same reasons most readers of this site are, but am skeptical nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • guest:

      Asking questions is what we do here.

      But to ask a question does not necessarily equate with being in opposition. I don’t know what I think about this yet. I don’t have enough information to form a judgement.

      So far, however, these US Mines folks don’t come off as being too terribly impressive.

      The issues do need to be identified and addressed. That’s why we are all here.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I wonder if EC is a flim flam canary of sorts to see how gullible us bumpkins are….”Don’t you guys want a homeless shelter? You can have one if you just let us ruin your bay….

        Like

      • Nope. EC was just a troll. Plain and simple. No he/she has fessed up, so we can all move on from the ridiculous lies put forth by EC and the rest of the fake posters that idiot made up.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m very skeptical about this proposal. First off, the company has absolutely no information about itself on its website, or just about anywhere else on the web. They say they have 30 years of experience, but I have know what of finding out what kind of experience.

    Logistics alone would be enough to stop this project. Barging in millions of tons of ore to be processed will take a lot of money. Then what gets done with the waste tailings? I heard mention of a cement factory, but those are nasty enough without having to deal with the actual refining (cement kilns are the largest source of mercury emissions outside of coal power plants.) Plus you have to deal with the clinker and ash, another problem all together.

    Then the cyanide processing makes this a bad idea.

    Yeah gold is expensive now, but the wastes from this will be very costly to manage.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. It doesn’t seem practical to ship raw ore off site for processing, given the sheer volume involved. More likely would be shipping the gold/carbon slurry generated in for processing, a practice (offsite processing) already used in the industry

    Like

  6. After interaction with Uri Driscoll tangentially on this subject on LoCO, I do want to impart to those I agree most of the time with how important it is to not be against growth and to be fair to lifeless entities such as cyanide.

    It’s really important to not go all Inhofe on subjects like this and there are important liberal reasons to take this all in, and if the mining company is not being up front with us, then give them the rope they require. (sorry for the imagery, but I’m talking about a company not a person as my excuse).

    Here are liberal reasons (imho) to consider this. a) to find high paying jobs – at least in comparison to retail. b) to find a use for a facility (that 10 story building out there) which might be perfect for this process. (reduce, reuse, recycle) c) this is something I really hope I can add to this conversation – if not us, whom. If not here, where? Is this an analog to how we get to the point where urban renewal becomes another word for yuppification?

    There is a lot at stake here, not just for the Mining Company and our environment, but for the politics of the left. The latter is a huge concern of mine and if we are going to be a movement of no growth when confronted with “cyanide”, then we will ultimately lose the argument and elections to people and interests will be their own bottom line.

    Their bottom line may be just high enough to sell their vision to others.

    Let’s listen, let’s hear, let’s see if they are serious and if we can be a part of trying to make an inherently unsustainable practice of our modern society to the high standards we should demand. If these standards can be met, we all have something to gain, even if we in principle are against mining as a practice.

    Remember, it’s probably the same people enjoying our oysters who will be wearing gold. Our decision before we say we will have one or the other is if we can possibly have both.

    Like

    • one says ‘jobs’ you say ‘yuppification’ and others say ‘tourism’ like all those are big solutions. They all have good and bad effects…for one more jobs means more housing pressure, rents and house/property values go up.
      An extraction industry that pollutes the very few items Eureka/HBay has going for it doesn’t seem very good as it sure precludes many other businesses from success, like tourism, yuppification, and clean jobs of any sort and scale. Picture the hellish conditions in the current gas field boom towns…and be very happy that is not here.
      Coal and CNG ports are being foisted on small communities along the west coast, be careful what kind of jobs you wish for.
      We have seen the EW rail and container port ideas already…and the grift that follows that.

      Some people want the place to not yet be economically successful, they haven’t bought up enough cheap housing before the prices go up.
      Poor counties can’t pay for enough police and enforcement…that’s an advantage for some people, besides the BigWeed.
      Currently the sheriff is way short of what he deems a full roster, he says because money. The tax vote was about money.
      But some among us would love to profit from economic failure and the failure of government to be funded and have active and effective enforcements of regulations, not just small crime but regulations at all levels to some is a feature, not a bug. Naomi Klein’s ‘Shock Doctrine’ is all too accurate.
      Grover Norquist’s blabbing about the plan to shrink govt small enough to drown it in the bathtub is working pretty well for some.

      Gold processing wasn’t proposed for San Diego or San Francisco…towns with a much better infrastructure and industrial base. Oxnard/Channel Islands has a harbor and container facilities as well.. Gee, wonder why that might be…

      anyway….

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Tuluwat Examiner | Congratulations Baykeeper! US Mine Corporation bails!

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