Vice Mayor alerts City Council to Arcata Bay Shoreline dioxin threat
City Council Vice Mayor Paul Patino said he intends to pull the approval of the Wastewater Treatment Facility Plan and Plant Improvement Project from the items scheduled to be rubber stamped by the city council.
The $60 million investment is a response to the threat of sea level rise which involves enlarging levees around the Arcata Wastewater Treatment Facility. Patino is calling on the council to further discuss the project after he learned the mud around the bay shoreline of the wastewater facility has the highest levels of dioxin ever discovered in Humboldt Bay sediments.
“I don’t see how you could mess with that area without it affecting that dioxin,” Patino said. “I think we need to get clear here.”
Dioxin can cause birth defects, cancer and organ failure. It is known to undergo bioaccumulation, meaning it increases in toxicity as it moves up the food chain from plants to predators. It was widely used from the 1940s to the 1980s before the EPA started regulating its use.
Patino raised particular concern with the staff report in the council packet where it states, “This project would involve enlarging the levee surrounding the majority of the outer perimeter of the Arcata Wastewater Treatment Facility (AWTF) by increasing the levee’s height and volume.”
The Arcata City Council is faced with the choice to approve the final application for the project, or first investigate the dangers of the dioxin believed to be largely the result of pentachlorophenol used during historic lumber mill operations up Jolly Giant Creek several blocks south of the town square.