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Power Play



"Power Surge for County Electricity Plan" (December 10) included a photo of a biomass plant in Chester. This plant was meant to show what we can expect with more biomass development here. Unfortunately, your article didn't mention that the plant's operator, Collins Pine Company, was sued last year for alleged multiple, ongoing Proposition 65 violations that fouled that community's drinking water, forest lands and air with known carcinogens and other toxins. A settlement last month fined Collins and forced it to modify its operations.

Indeed, is this what we can look forward to in Humboldt County?

Let's be clear and call biomass plants what they are: incinerators. They emit toxic chemical pollutants, as well as fine particulate matter that penetrates the lungs and is associated with increased rates of pulmonary and cardiac diseases, cancer and premature death.

Humboldt County is already not in attainment of California's 24-hour PM10 standard, which defines how many fine particles can be present in outdoor air without threatening the public's health. We need to improve our air quality, not worsen it.

As mentioned in the article, dioxins are also a byproduct of biomass incineration. These highly toxic and environmentally persistent chemicals are associated with reproductive and developmental harm, hormonal interference and cancer.

Several health organizations around the country oppose biomass plants, including the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association.

The California Biomass Energy Alliance, the trade group representing biomass plant operators, opposes EPA regulations to limit toxic emissions from current biomass boilers.

If this is our "green" energy future, I'd rather stick with PG&E.

—Ellen Golla, Trinidad

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