Based on tests in some areas of the mill site, the groundwater has been affected by eight chemicals of concern.  Included in this list of chemicals are hexavalent chromium and arsenic. (Source PES Environmental, Inc. Data Gap Evaluation Report May 13, 2008 p.6 to be found on the  California Water Board’s Geotracker website.)

About hexavalent chromium:

Hexavalent chromium is listed as a known cause of cancer by the State of California (proposition 65).  Effects of exposure also include irritation to the lining of the nose, nose ulcers, and breathing problems.  It can effect red blood cells and hemoglobin.  It also is known to cause irritation and ulcers to the stomach and small intestine, anemia, kidney and urinary tract damage, sperm damage and damage to the male reproductive system and skin ulcers. A more complete summary of effects can be found on the website for the state of California proposition 65

Why is this important?  The chemicals made by the Samoa Pulp Mill under various owners are still in the soil and groundwater and possibly leaking into Humboldt Bay.  Also workers and nearby residents may still be suffering from the effects of these chemicals.   We need to be aware and keep putting pressure on present owners to clean it up.

A September 27, 2007 letter to Evergreen Pulp from the Water Board discussed the danger of spillage into Humboldt Bay.  “Beginning in January 2007 the CRWQCB initiated discussion with EPI regarding existing groundwater contamination on-site and the potential discharge…threat to Humboldt Bay.” Translation: the mill site is filled with lots of nasty chemicals and they could leak into the bay. 

A different letter dated August 1, 2007 says, “Chemical analyses results indicate that CRWQCB water quality objectives are exceeded for organic and inorganic constituents…Of the 13 monitoring wells, 12 monitoring wells have concentrations of organic and/or inorganic COCs exceeding WQO’s.”

Translation: The mill is a toxic waste site.

We looked into specific chemicals involved.  The chemical information is online at the Water Board Geotracker website.  Tests were done in March 2008 by North Coast Laboratories in Arcata.p  The report is detailed, but we were able to isolate some significant statistics.  Beginning on p. 127 is a very long list of chemicals that exceed the reporting limit. We will be learning more about these as we go along.  For today we are concentrating on four chemicals that exceed the reporting limit by huge amounts. We will be finding out more about what the acceptable amounts, if any, for these chemicals are. 

Arsenic:  504.8 micrograms per liter

              Reporting level 5.0

Arsenic is classified as a known cause of cancer by the state of California (prop 65)

Chromium: 499.4 micrograms per liter

              Reporting level 5.0

Hexavalent chromium is a known cause of

cancer according to the state of California.

We will be learning more about what kind of

Chromium they tested here. The water board says there is some hexavalent chromium on site.

Manganese 492.9 micrograms per liter

              Reporting level 2.0

Nickel 500.4 micrograms per liter

             Reporting level 5.0

              Nickel is a known cause of cancer according               to the state of California

This information is on p. 133 of the summary report, 

Since we know the Water Board is meeting this month with both Louisiana Pacific (which is sending people from their home office) and Freshwater Pulp about cleaning up the mill site, it is doubtful that there has been much if any cleanup since 2007.  Therefore, questions should be asked loudly, “Are mill contaminants draining into Humboldt Bay?  Are these poisons in our groundwater?

The above information is available on geotracker at the State Water Board.

For minimal risk levels for these and other chemicals go to the following link:
I SEE THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE THINK THAT THOSE OF US WHO OBJECT TO POLLUTING INDUSTRIES SHOULD OFFER ALTERNATIVES TO THEM. Former mayor Peter La Vallee asked citizens to suggest clean businesses and industries that would not harm our health. I PERSONALLY GAVE HIM AND THE CITY COUNCIL A LONG LIST OF BUSINESSES THAT COULD BE GOOD FOR HUMBOLDT AND THE LOCAL ECONOMY. Skip the two intro paragra;hs and see the list below if you like. SEE BELOW: 

Goal for Jobs and Economy

We would like to have income-generating sustainable businesses for all in Eureka. However, consumption of resources has a potential for destructive growth . Therefore, the list below recognizes existing uses and production traditions but focuses on conversion to limited, small-scale, community-serving and community responsive practices

We would like to see Humboldt County and especially the City of Eureka be a place of creative local industries that serve the people of this region. Arts and crafts and creative services for the residents will make Humboldt a livable place not beholden to grants and corporations. Production based on the resources that are unique to this area will bring a natural market. The slow cities (citta slow) movement started in Italy shows that local economies flourish on such a system. Some examples of such industries and services already exist and are listed below with other suggested ones: 

Retail and Service Economy
shops, restaurants, cafes, eateries bakeries
rooftop restaurants, gardens
repair shops
carpentry, contracting, roofing, yard and garden maintenance, 
markets open and enclosed
Hand-wash laundries
bicycle and pushcart rental
foot/bicycle message service
foot/bicycle delivery service
small craft water transportation and hauling
pedestrian/bicycle trails construction and maintenance

Agriculture, Timber and Forestry
organic agriculture, gardening, farming, cattle ranches
organic herb and tea culture and wild herb gathering
organic and raw milk (cow, goat and sheep) dairies, handcrafted raw cheese making 
organic mushroom culture and wild mushroom gathering
organic wineries (existing only, no additional)
landscaping, gardening maintenance crews
sustainable timber use and native forest restoration
sustainable fishing, crabbing
oyster beds
trees–plant and sell native varieties for permaculture and urban forests (see below)
seed banks/exchange

Small Manufacturing
ship and boat building, canoes
quality bicycles and ped-carts
bicycle repair kits
family unit wind generators
bio-diesel fuel vehicle conversion
bio-diesel fuel collection, production
hand-crafted tepees and yurts, hammocks
travel services, boat lines
boat trips, river rafting, hiking, snow-shoeing guided trips
boat and bike rentals
youth hostels, hiking guides

Quality Crafts (the list is endless; emphasis should be on high quality and identity with region)
musical instruments
weaving, spinning
sheep and llama woolen crafts and products
Sheep skin boots, clothing,
Oiled yarn, other knitting and weaving yarns
Native American blankets
artistic clothing design and construction, wearable art, tailoring
clothing for Humboldt construction and sales
Fabric and thread and yarn-making from local sources--sheep, llamas, plant fibers
needlecraft: Victorian and Craftsman -era embroidered linens
insulating drapery construction
Native American basketry, crafts and art
jewelry using polished rocks, beads and shells
glass blowing and stained glass
quality printing and book binding
archery bows and arrows, other sports equipment
saddles, bridles, horseman articles
lost arts and crafts from Native Amenrican cultures 
canning, fermenting and drying of food locally grown

architectural lumber salvaging
concrete salvaging
metal and machine (eg:bicycle, car) parts’ salvaging
reforestation,of native forests, urban forests
urban fallen tree salvaging
historic buildings restoration
antique and architectural salvage: doors, windows, frames, hinges, light fixtures, timbers, etc.
antique and current clothing repair and reuse
waste-to-electric generation
native plants habitat restoration

art galleries, art studios
support for writers
dance studios
drama schools and theatres
youth centers, hostels
institutes for special studies,
performing arts venues 
music and other festivals
local history tours
media: journals, “little”magazines, newsletters, newspapers
coffee and tea houses
rooftop restaurants
cooking schools:vegetarian, vegan, regional, ethnic
open air and enclosed markets
craft fairs