BY INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER LINDA SUTTER
THE FOX IS IN THE HEN HOUSE, SOMEBODY FLUSH HIM OUT
Information alleging that the harbor district was dumping oil filled Sludge and sand on a 7.46 acre parcel behind the Hay’s Feed Store located on Elk Valley Road, turned out to be true. This land is owned by Ted Pappas Partnership.
The 7.46 acre parcel is a wetland area that butts up against game and wetland property. The only dividing line between the property owner and wetland area is a thin piece of black plastic held up by small flimsy post to protect the adjacent land. Sand and sludge were not the only things dumped there. Concrete wrapped around grey conduit pvc pipe, piles of it. Piles of asphalt, other unidentifiable piping, and piles of wood that had been scraped up from the earth reaching as high as the sand piles even higher. This resembled a new dump only the toxic waste was still above ground.
Not knowing what to make of this scene, I got an opinion from environmental activist, Eileen Cooper. Ms. Cooper was devastated to see that the once wetland had been destroyed to unrecognizable distortions. Ms. Cooper instantly contacted an environmental group located in Eureka California.
On July 9th District Harbor Master Richard Young was unavailable to talk, but Craig Costa, the supervisor from DUTRA EXCAVATING and construction was available. I asked Mr. Costa who was hauling out the sand, oil filled sludge, and other waste from the harbor. He told me Tidewater was hauling the waste. I asked Mr. Costa where it was getting hauled to. He informed me some was taken to the transfer station, some was taken to Eureka, but he was not certain because he subcontracted to Tidewater and they hauled it off. I asked him what is done with the waste when it reaches the facility where it is taken. Mr. Costa informed me that it is cleaned and reused.
On July 10th, information led me to the sludge pools located behind a local hotel and antique store along the “S” curve of 101. I had never been to this location before and always thought the hotels built there overlooked the ocean, but instead found the hotel overlooks the sludge pools. As I walked along a sandy road I found myself behind the harbor where there were large machines working.
What I observed this time was the concrete that surrounded the pvc conduit piping that had been laying out in the front of the harbor plain view the night before, had been moved to behind the harbor where the sludge pools were. I watched from a distance while a machine operator received instructions from his boss to crush the concrete. I returned to my vehicle and drove to the Harbor Master Richard Young’s office.
Face to face with Richard Young, I asked him if he knew where Tidewater was dumping the harbor waste. He informed me that some of the waste was being taken to the transfer station and some had gone to a spot on Elk Valley Road. Mr. Young informed me the only waste going to the Elk Valley spot was mud and sand. I told Mr. Young that was not entirely true and showed him the pictures I had taken. Mr. Young then informed me that the county officials knew about this as well as the Coastal Commission and the Regional Water Agency. Mr. Young said it was getting taken care of.
I also informed Mr. Young that the DUTRA company was burying concrete with pvc pipe that may contain asbestos in it right now as we speak at the sludge ponds. Mr. Young agreed to meet me at the entrance of the sludge pools to take a look.
Mr. Young, with his camera in his hand, and his secretary Wilma Madden met me at the sludge ponds. By the time we had arrived, the concrete was no longer visible. Mr. Young and Wilma Madden both assured me that whatever I saw would get cleaned up or DUTRA Company would be held responsible.
Later that day, I received an email from Mr. Young validating the fact that there were asbestos materials found at the harbor, that it is currently being stored by DUTRA CONSTRUCTION in a shed somewhere on the harbor district property.
On July 11, Information of yet one more hot spot that Tidewater construction may be dumping the harbor waste up at the Stevens Bridge on South Fork Road. I drove to the site in question and met a Federal worker who oversees the bridge project. His name is Jim Klamerus, he is from Denver Colorado, and he is assigned to this job to ensure the permits and other guidelines are met.
I informed Mr. Klamerus, what was going on with the harbor and asked if any trucks were bringing in rocks or other materials up to this project. Mr. Klamerus kind of thought that was a question lacking logic, so he said, “I don’t think they would drive all the way out here and dump the harbor waste, why would they do that”. My answer though simple scared him for a moment, “because it is 86 miles one way to drive to Eureka to dispose waste properly and it is 23 miles one way to dispose material improperly”. Mr. Klamerus face was stunned for a moment, he said, “Now you’re scaring me.” He offered me to take a drive with him to where the dumping site was for the bridge project.
We arrived at the material drop off point. I could tell it was fresh dirt and rock, no sand, no concrete, no asphalt, and no pvc pipe. Good old dirt. I was thankful to see one man who was actually doing his job and cared whether or not guidelines were met.
To be fair, our Harbor Master Richard Young is not hired to micro manage and he can’t watch what everyone is doing. Ward Stover Engineering is suppose to be paying attention to what is going on. Federal money is involved. Where is the Federal worker for this project? The Fox is in the hen house, somebody needs to flush him out.