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Langell Valley wrong place for plant, and it's not even needed

Published Dec. 22, 2003

By Lyn Brock, guest columnist

Many of us in the Bonanza and Langell Valley areas and in Klamath Falls are still working to oppose the siting of the Cob Energy Facility in rural, agricultural Langell Valley.

Cob Energy Facility, LLC, proposes to construct an 1,160-megawatt gas-fired plant in Klamath County near the city of Bonanza on exclusive farm use-zoned land. This proposed power plant would be huge - the largest natural gas-fired electric generating facility on the West Coast and one of the biggest in our country. This probably means it would be one of the largest in the world. It has hired a big consulting firm, CH2MHill, to help it with planning and agency requirements. Recently the environmental impact statement was made available.

At its web site, CH2M.com, under the heading of "about us" it tell us: "CH2M HILL helps clients apply technology and safeguard the environment. We offer a growing range of integrated services that enable our people to take any industrial or public works project from concept through planning, financing, design, construction, operations and maintenance. Every element of the firm is structured to ensure that we can leverage our global resources and know-how to satisfy each client's unique needs." Wow: Its site is pretty impressive.

We've been fighting this project for almost two years. CH2MHill and Peoples Energy have been telling us that they know that we have two separate aquifers beneath our land in Langell Valley. They seem to know with certainty that these two layers of water separated by solid rock are not connected. They know enough about them that they were willing to gamble the future of farmers' and homeowners' water needs when they proposed that they pump over 10 million gallons of water a day out of the deeper aquifer. We protested bitterly, and they changed their application to an air-cooled facility.

We would like CH2MHill officials to safeguard our environment by not recommending the siting of heavy industry in an area zoned for agriculture.

I'm not confident they know how much the tons of particulate matter will affect farm land or our citizens. I'm not confident they know what they claim they know about our aquifers hidden so far beneath the ground.

That's not where it is

In reading their environmental impact statement, which is a document containing hundreds of pages, I find in Appendix C, page 4-5 under the section 4.4.2 Lost River: "The Link River is a canal constructed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to connect the Lost River to the Klamath River system as part of the Klamath Basin Project."

For those of you who don't know where Link River is, I do know, and my husband knows, and Klamath County Commissioner Steve West know about this "approximately 1.2 mile-long river that 'links' Lake Ewauna with Klamath Lake."

If CH2MHill doesn't even know where this mile-long river is that is in plain sight across the surface of our county, how can it claim to know about an aquifer that is more than a thousand feet beneath the ground?

How do they know where the runoff water is going when the company's environmental impact statement in Figure 2-3 in the EIS Appendix C still shows water from roof drains, parking areas, and other sources as infiltrating into the ground. This means that chemicals from the process (e.g. gas combustion) will end up in groundwater and in our ditches and in Lost River because our storms such as June thundershowers that can drop several inches of rain in just a few hours - maybe 2 to 4 inches in two hours -and some of that is going to run off and enter the ditches and eventually find its way into the river. The environmental impact statement page 4-6 (very top of page) still discusses possibility of discharging storm water into West Langell Valley Roadside ditches. And yet amendment 2, page B-5 , says there will be no discharge of storm water into surface waters or drainage ditches.  

How can we rely on this huge money-making concern to be honest and reliable at protecting our environment or Oregon resources?

A publication titled "State of Oregon Energy Plan 2002-2005" from Office of Energy, December, 2002 says, "The Northwest's 2002 load has declined...There should be adequate power for several years, even in a drought." It also states, " The mission of the Oregon Office of Energy is to protect Oregon's environment by saving energy, developing clean energy resources... Reduce carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels..." Its website has this document available at http://www.ene rgy.state.or.us. We don't need this facility.    

Don't kids' count?

We asked the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality how it set the limits for allowable amounts of hazardous pollutants and were told that the limits are based on amounts which would not harm a normal, healthy adult. Of course, he stated, this might cause health concerns for young children, the elderly, and those who already have health concerns, such as the local citizens who have asthma or are on oxygen for other conditions.

I guess our government doesn't need to be concerned about the children and the elderly. Are they expendable or what?

I would like to encourage all residents of Klamath County who are opposed to the siting of another power plant in Klamath County to write letters to our governor: Ted Kulongoski, 160 State Capitol, Salem, OR, 97301.

He evidently thinks there are only three or four families near Bonanza who are against this project. I have talked to hundreds of people and have found hardly any who are in favor of this project being built in our area.

Just write your letter from your own heart, in your own handwriting. Even two sentences would be enough.

Just tell him you don't want the Cob Energy Facility to be sited in Langell Valley. Tell him you object to a mega-million dollar company being allowed to site their plant in an agricultural area. Or tell him we want Oregon resources used more wisely. Or we want our environment and our citizens protected.

If you are a registered voter, you might want to tell him that. And you might want to send a copy to me or to the Herald and News so we can know the opinions of Klamath County residents. And call or write our county commissioners, Al Switzer and John Elliott, who think this project is a great idea.

Oregon:  Where fish are more important than farmers.





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