Seal of Disapproval

SD sealsEarlier this week a San Diego Superior Court judge ruled that the city of San Diego had two weeks to come up with a plan to evict a colony of harbor seals at Children’s Pool in La Jolla, a breakwater area with calm swimming waters that attracts many families. The judge’s twisted ruling discounted a previous federal order prohibiting removal of the seals.  In his eyes, and the eyes of many locals, the seals are a hazard to children and pose a health risk to local swimmers.  These must be the same sort of folks that are constantly pushing for mountain lion and black bear eradication.

Grading the Media

press_sf_carolann_500x375Last week marked an interesting time for me.  I missed my first Beach Report Card press conference in 19 years to complete a leadership fellowship with the Aspen Institute. As the 20th approached, I felt a combination of anxiety and anticipation. I wanted to be at the press conference in Santa Monica, but I couldn’t be in two places at once.  I also wanted to see how well Heal the Bay staff would do without me serving as the lead spokesperson on California’s beach water quality issues.

The end result?

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Oh Susana!

The Santa Susana Field Lab fired over 30,000 rocket tests leaving grossly polluted soil and groundwater. Image: Enviroreporter.com

The Santa Susana Field Lab fired over 30,000 rocket tests leaving grossly polluted soil and groundwater. Image: EnviroReporter.com

The old Rocketdyne Santa Susana Field Laboratory site in eastern Ventura County overlooking the San Fernando Valley has long been notorious for horrific pollution problems.  The hilltop site, located near residential communities, operated for over 60 years as a rocket testing site and hosted nearly 30,000 tests. It also operated as a nuclear reactor test site and suffered a scary accident in 1959, when more than a dozen uranium fuel rods in the reactor ruptured and partly melted.  As a result, extensive groundwater and soil contamination plagues the facility, which Boeing now uses as a research outpost. Polluted runoff discharged from the site has exceeded water quality standards on dozens of occasions.

Last Friday, the Regional Water Board inexplicably voted to weaken stormwater regulatory requirements for two drainages leaving the site despite its long and dark history.  Continue reading

Victory in Ventura!

Ventura's new progressive stormwater permit bodes well for local wetlands

Ventura's new progressive stormwater permit bodes well for local wetlands and rivers

After a grueling and tense 12-hour hearing, the Southern California Regional Water Board last night approved a new stormwater permit for Ventura County on a 5-1 vote.  The permit follows over two years of contentious debate involving Ventura County, its muncipalities, the Building Industry Assn., the environmental community and the Regional Board.

Over the last year, Ventura County and all 11 of its cities negotiated a far-reaching agreement with Heal the Bay and the NRDC. The six-page pact was incorporated in to the permit during the board vote despite the strong opposition from Regional Board staff.  Here are the highlights: Continue reading

Trumping Public Health

Trump has a mess on his hands in Baja

Trump has a mess on his hands in Baja

The Los Angeles Times today examines the failed Trump Ocean Resort in Baja, just below Tijuana. The failure of the massive 525-unit vacation home complex has cost investors millions.

The controversy over the use and abuse of Donald Trump’s “good name” has become the focus of the high-profile collapse. But what hasn’t been mentioned prominently is the potential public health disaster that looms over the project. Continue reading