Posted on Categories Land Use, Water, WildlifeTags , , , Leave a comment on Disputed Roblar quarry project wins court fight

Disputed Roblar quarry project wins court fight

Angela Hart, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER

A state appellate court has handed quarry developer John Barella a resounding victory in his decade-long bid to build a controversial project off Roblar Road west of Cotati.

A three-judge panel has upheld Sonoma County’s 2010 approval of the 65-acre rock quarry and reversed a lower court ruling on all counts, dealing a final blow to opponents’ three-year fight to halt the project on environmental grounds.

Barella, the former owner of North Bay Construction, praised the decision while voicing frustration with the lengthy environmental review and court fight needed to clear the way for his $60 million project.

Planning for the project is set to start this week, and ground work on the site could get underway within a year, said Steve Butler, Barella’s attorney.

via Disputed quarry project wins court fight | Petaluma Argus Courier | Petaluma360.com.

Posted on Categories Land Use, WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Sonoma County landfill neighbors sue over pollution

Sonoma County landfill neighbors sue over pollution

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Neighbors of Sonoma County’s Central Landfill are threatening to file a federal Clean Water Act lawsuit over the pollution they say has been running off compost piles and fouling surrounding waterways for years.

Residents of nearby Happy Acres subdivision say they’ll sue by mid-August unless they can reach a settlement with the county over the wastewater they say is generated by the 35-acre compost operation located at the northern end of the landfill.

“Who would want to live next to a compost facility that’s spewing pollution into the adjacent creek?” said Attorney Michael Lozeau, who represents the group Renewed Efforts of Neighbors Against Landfill Expansion, or RENALE.

via Sonoma County landfill neighbors sue over pollution | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sustainable Living, WaterTags , , , Leave a comment on Sonoma County composting program faces uncertain future

Sonoma County composting program faces uncertain future

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County’s 21-year-old composting program could be scrapped if water quality regulators don’t back off a threat to impose stiff fines for runoff that has been fouling a creek near the county’s central landfill for years.

The composting operation, which sits atop the landfill but operates independently, has until Oct. 1 to clean up its act or face millions in penalties in the event a major storm overwhelms the undersized storage ponds at the 25-acre site.

But Sonoma County Waste Management Agency officials say their solution — construction of a massive stormwater holding pond at the north end of the Mecham Road landfill — can’t possibly be designed, permitted and built by October. They say they need relief from the proposed deadline and fines before they can move forward.

If regulators don’t give them either, they warn they may have to shut down the composting operation and begin hauling yard waste out of the county, much like the county did with its garbage when the central landfill was closed by regulators in 2005.

via Sonoma County composting program faces uncertain future | Petaluma360.com | Petaluma Argus-Courier | Petaluma, CA.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Santa Rosa firm to pay $135,000 in hazardous waste case

Santa Rosa firm to pay $135,000 in hazardous waste case

Elizabeth M. Cosin, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A Santa Rosa firm agreed this week to pay $135,000 in penalties for allegations it dumped corrosive waste, according to Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch.

CPI International, Inc., which makes environmental standards and testing products, and its former corporate officers David Hejl and Robin Fowler, agreed to the civil penalty that was brought after inspectors observed a paper-like glue substance flowing into the sewer, said Terry Menshek, a spokeswoman for Ravitch.

During inspections in March 2011, Sonoma County Fire and Emergency Services and Rincon Valley Fire inspectors discovered the waste runoff. An investigation revealed CPI had not filed a hazardous materials business plan or followed other procedures, as required by law.

Warned to stop the dumping, CPI instead moved its paper-making operation to a residence off Mountain Home Ranch Road in Santa Rosa, according to the DA’s office, which then filed a civil environmental enforcement case.

via Santa Rosa firm to pay $135,000 in hazardous waste case | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Wastewater recycling controversy

Wastewater recycling controversy

Brenda Adelman, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE

April is the month we celebrate the Earth, it’s bountiful resources, its diverse creatures and cultures and all its beauty.  It is also the time when we need to consider the interrelationship of all life forms.  Yet we tend to compartmentalize information and struggle to comprehend the vast web we all weave, seldom noting that every thing is connected to everything else, and every action reverberates through life’s web.

Small amounts can have huge consequences

Endocrinologists discovered awhile back that minute exposures to endocrine disrupting toxins (such as most pesticides, herbicides, etc.) can have cataclysmic effects on fetal development and adult organ systems; it can cause reproductive cancer; it can feminize male frogs;  it can masculinize female sea gulls; it is suspected of causing heart disease, autism, Alzheimer’s, obesity, and more.  The problems created by these chemicals may cause as much harm as global warming, since effects can be carried down through unborn generations.

We live in a chemical world that is significantly under regulated.  It is surmised that 80,000 or more chemicals exist with hundreds of new ones produced each year. We have little knowledge about how they interact with one another.  Many of these are found in our bodies, including fetal blood and mother’s milk. Earth’s species are apparently going through their sixth major extinction, and the first caused entirely by man, yet we go on about our business as though none of this is real.

Risk assessment needs an overhaul

We still rely on conventional risk assessment to determine harm; holding the common, antiquated assumption  that “…the dose makes the poison”.  BEFORE regulations are promulgated and enforced, suspected toxins are allowed full use.  In the case of tertiary wastewater reuse, many substances are assumed to be safe at low doses even while more and more scientific evidence indicates that is not always the case. (The Clean Water Act list of 125 priority pollutants has had no additions in over 25 years.)  On this basis, the State Water Board found that monitoring for endocrine disrupting chemicals was unnecessary before irrigating parks, playgrounds, and schools where children play.

Many scientists, especially those in the field of endocrinology, now call for application of the precautionary principle, defined as: “When human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish that harm.”, but regulators have largely turned a deaf ear to real reform.

via Wastewater Recycling Controversy.

Posted on Categories Land Use, WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Sonoma County risks fines over compost runoff at central landfill

Sonoma County risks fines over compost runoff at central landfill

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Water quality regulators are threatening to fine Sonoma County $10,000 per day if it doesn’t figure out a way to eliminate runoff from the composting operations at the county’s central landfill site west of Cotati.

The 25-acre compost facility run by the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency has been under orders since last year to prevent runoff from reaching nearby creeks.

In a March 18 letter, the North Coast Water Quality Control Board officials said they were “concerned by the lack of progress” in resolving the problem before next winter’s rainy season.

via Sonoma County risks fines over compost runoff at central landfill | The Press Democrat.