Eureka Police Dept. Updates ‘Most Wanted’ Poster

LoCO Staff / Wednesday, Aug. 20 @ 12:06 p.m. / Crime

Eureka Police Department release: 


Your Week in Ocean: Oh, Buoy! Plus Our Radioactive Ocean

Jennifer Savage / Wednesday, Aug. 20 @ 11:23 a.m. / Ocean

Image courtesy California Coastal Commission

Less litter!

 Let’s start local. None of us like trash on the beach. We’ve talked about this. Please be happy to know that Coastal Cleanup Day is only one month away, but you still have time to sponsor (if you are a business or organization), be a site captain (you leader-type, you!) and/or join the largest volunteer event in California by being part of a trash-collecting team (yay!).

Sponsors, email Jennifer Savage (me!) at

Captains and volunteers, email Brandon Drucker at

Image courtesy NOAA

Swell announcement

In other optimism-inspiring news, if you, like me, have despaired over the longstanding defunctness of NOAA’s National Buoy Data Center Station 46022, take heart!

Senior Meteorologist Brian Garcia reported from the National Weather Service office on Woodley Island that things are “looking good” regarding getting both the “22” and the Scripps North Spit buoy back online by the end of next week. He emphasized the tentative expectations, however, noting, “These are very weather-dependent operations, so let’s hope for light winds and low seas next week.” Here’s to that!

How ‘bout that radioactivity?

Expanding out to a West Coast-wide view, Our Radioactive Ocean’s Ken Buesseler and Colleen Durkin have been busy sharing the project’s initial success and statistics. Over 30 sampling sites have been launched from Southern California up to Alaska and including the Hawaiian islands. Here’s what the citizen-science submissions have shown so far:

Using the most sensitive methods to measure your water samples, we have detected only cesium-137, the “legacy” cesium that remains from 1960s atmospheric weapons testing. This isotope is still in all ocean basins because of its relatively long 30-year half-life, which means it takes a long time to decay away.  Levels of cesium-137 in all 43 samples analyzed thus far average 1.5 Bequerels per cubic meter of water, which is equivalent to one-and-a-half decay events per second per metric ton of water. This is a very small number if we compare it to the 7,400 Bq/m3 used by U.S. EPA as the drinking water limit, and the millions of Bq/m3 of cesium detected in the ocean off Japan in 2011 at the peak of the accident, which at that level are of considerable concern for direct negative impacts on marine biota and human health. Keep reading…

Acidification, f’reals

Regular ocean-news devourers already know our ocean is getting more acidic due to atmospheric carbon pollution – but might have missed NPR’s thought-provoking article last month discussing the potential role of marine protected areas as a way to understand and mitigate ocean acidification. Special attention is given to eelgrass beds – a focal habitat used in selecting sites for protection under the Marine Life Protection Act and found in Humboldt Bay – and how they may actually buffer and sustain our ocean resources in the face of a changing ocean climate.

Many West Coast elected officials are taking ocean acidification seriously, convening a groundbreaking panel with leadership support from California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. The West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Panel is working to improve knowledge on this issue to guide better decisions for the future of our oceans. Explore the Panel’s work and vision – and find participating scientists – on the Panel’s website, created by the California Ocean Science Trust. Stay informed by signing up for the Panel newsletter.

Photo courtesy Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples

‘Release the dam water!’

In other take-this-seriously news, a coalition of tribes and other concerned citizens (including Northcoast Environmental Center staff) marched in Sacramento yesterday, demanding the Board of Reclamation take the threat of a 2014 fish kill seriously, calling for the BOR to “Free the Klamath!” and more. Good coverage via KCRA.

Get deep

Let’s circle all the way back home. Remember Humboldt State’s new submarine? Tune into Coastal Currents today at noon (KHUM 104.7 FM or to find out more about the ROV’s missions, plus additional science and fun happening at the HSU Marine Lab. 

Jennifer Savage is the Northcoast Environmental Center’s Coastal Programs Director.

Five Detained, None Arrested in 1077-Plant SoHum Bust

Hank Sims / Wednesday, Aug. 20 @ 9:06 a.m. / marijuana

From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

On 08-19-2014, at approximately 11:00 a.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office deputies drove to Mahan Road, Garberville and served a Humboldt County Superior Court search warrant. When deputies arrived, they searched the property and located 1077 growing marijuana plants ranging from 8 feet to 15 feet tall. They also located five adults who were all detained and identified.

No arrests were made; however deputies will be submitting the case to the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office and requesting arrest warrants for cultivation and possession for sale of marijuana.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

Motorcyclist Down: Accident in Eureka Impacting 5th Street

Kym Kemp / Tuesday, Aug. 19 @ 5:29 p.m. /

Witnesses gather around a downed motorcycle on 5th Street. [Photo by Andrew Goff.]

A little after 5 p.m. a Toyota pickup collided with a motorcycle where Broadway turns to 5th Street in Eureka. Humboldt Bay Fire and an ambulance has arrived. The two riding the bike are both responsive. The Eureka Police Department is questioning the driver of the truck.

One lane of the road is still open but avoid the area if possible.


Breakthrough (Literally) in Eureka’s Martin Slough Wastewater Project

Ryan Burns / Tuesday, Aug. 19 @ 5:03 p.m. / Government

They did it. Contractors for the City of Eureka successfully drilled a hole beneath Pine Hill and ran a 36-inch wastewater pipe through it, thus succeeding where a previous contractor had failed.

You may recall that, back in March, Oregon-based Apex Directional Drilling walked off the Martin Slough Interceptor project, a multi-million-dollar wastewater system upgrade co-financed by the City of Eureka and the Humboldt Community Services District. Apex accused the consulting engineers on the project of misidentifying the soil under the hill. (They were expecting stable dirt and instead found flowing sand, which caused the hole to keep collapsing, company representatives said.) In May Apex filed a $6.3 million lawsuit against the City alleging “negligence, misrepresentations and breach of contract.” 

That suit is still pending, but the new contractors have proved that the job was indeed possible. Eureka-based Wahlund Construction, originally a subcontractor for Apex, took over as the general contractor in April while HDD Co. Inc., a directional drilling company out of Cameron Park, took over the drilling and pipe work.

How were Wahlund and HDD able to succeed where Apex could not? Wahlund Construction President Ken Wahlund was reluctant to talk about it in those terms, given the pending lawsuit against the City, but he did explain some of the techniques used to complete the job. The first order of business was freeing up the drill steel that Apex left buried in a hole roughly 3,000 feet long. 

Wahlund explained that HDD used a large “donut ring” attachment and shot high-viscosity mud into the hole as a lubricant. This particular hole went underground near the municipal golf course. In order to free the drill steel HDD dug in from the other side, near Highway 101, using a smaller rig, Wahlund said.

Then the company finished drilling the hole, using first an 18-inch reamer and then a 36-inch attachment to pull material out. After the hole was bored to a large enough diameter, Wahlund Construction pulled three large lengths of pipe through, each section measuring about 1,500 feet. Company employees are now testing the pipeline.

This breakthrough is being viewed as a vindication by SHN Consulting Engineers and Geologists, the Eureka company whose soil analysis was besmirched by Apex. SHN geologist Roland Johnson was careful not to say anything negative about Apex, though he did give credit to HDD Co. Inc.

“I think it’s safe to say that there’s substantial difference between the experience of the two contractors,” Johnson said. HDD, he added, “clearly were able to accomplish something the others either didn’t want to try or couldn’t do.”

The big question that remains is how much these hiccups have added to the cost of the project. It had been slated to cost more than $7 million. Wahlund was awarded a contract for nearly $4 million to complete it after Apex abandoned work. And of course, the lawsuit is still pending.

Bruce Young, Eureka’s director of Public Works, said the total cost — or even a rough estimate — will be difficult to calculate. Much of the preparatory work done on the original contract — work areas and access roads, for example — carried over to the latter phase, Young said.

As for the dispute over the soil makeup, Young defended SHN’s analysis. The consulting engineers identified the soil as Hookton Formation, described as a mix of gravel, sand, silt and clay. “Hookton is — it’s more of a place in geologic time than anything else,” Young said. Sometimes it can be solid; other times it’s less so. “But I think the base report [by SHN] fairly accurately described what [Apex] might expect,” Young said.

Young, too, was cognizant of Apex’s pending lawsuit. “I’m being careful,” he said, “but HDD has proven that, using the right techniques ,you could indeed accomplish what was being asked to be accomplished.”

He said he and the City’s consulting engineer will get back to the Outpost soon with an updated estimate of the project’s total cost.


UPDATEApex Drilling President Releases Statement Regarding Martin Slough Project Breakthrough

McK Union School District Calls Special Early Morning Meeting to Refinance Huge Bond Debt

Hank Sims / Tuesday, Aug. 19 @ 4:09 p.m. / Local Government



The McKinleyville Union School District will hold a special meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, Aug. 20) at the ungodly hour of 7:15 a.m., in order to vote on the refinancing of the hugeous bonds it took out a few years ago.

Back in 2012, the district issued $7 million in bond debt, a little over $4 million of which was in the form of slow-repaying “capital appreciation bonds,” which have since become something of a statewide scandal. The total debt to district property owners incurred by those bonds was a whopping $56 million, spread out over 40 years.

At the special meeting tomorrow morning, the district will be looking at refinancing options that could knock between $11 million and $17 million off of the $56 million it now owes.

There are three different refinancing options on the table, and each of them would involve some combination of lower property taxes and faster repayment. (See a chart comparing the three options here.) District staff is recommending a plan that would reduce the district’s outstanding CAB obligations from $53.1 million to $39 million, while at the same time knocking down estimated property tax assessments through 2050 by about 13 percent.

“It’s something the district needed to do to move forward,” McK Union Superintendent Michael Davies-Hughes told the Outpost this morning, referring to the original, high-interest CAB bonds. “[But] the commitment that the board made was, look, we’re going to continue to monitor this, and when the time is right, we will look at refinancing these bonds.”

The time is now – and while paying $39 million for $4 million still may not be ideal, it’s inarguably better than the alternative. That’s tomorrow at 7:15 a.m. at the Azalea Conference Center – 2285 Central Ave., McKinleyville.



Two Arrested After Allegedly Smoking Pot and Sleeping in the Bed of a Stolen Truck

Andrew Goff / Tuesday, Aug. 19 @ 3:35 p.m. / Crime

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release: 

On 08-19-2014, at approximately 6:00 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call of two suspicious people smoking pot in the bed of a pickup truck parked on Kipling Drive, Eureka. The Sheriff’s Office dispatcher ran a DMV check on the vehicle license and learned the 2004 Chevy pickup truck was reported stolen from the City of Eureka.

When deputies arrived they located a man and woman sleeping in the bed of the pickup truck. The man was identified as Daniel Byrd, 25 years old and Heather Haselip, 28 years old, both from Eureka. The deputies searched the truck and located a small amount of marijuana, a marijuana pipe and syringes.

Byrd and Haselip were both arrested for possession of stolen property and transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility where they were booked. Their bail was set at $25,000.00 each.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.