On Thursday, September 13, approximately 70 stakeholders from CINC and the community as well as notable public officials including Mayor Flynn, Supervisor Zaragoza, Councilman Perillo, C.I. Harbor Director Sandoval and numerous representatives from the City of Oxnard and the County attended and addressed the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board at the Hearing at the Government Center in Ventura.
With speeches, videos and presentations in hand, the attendees, including the City rep, Sandra Burkhart, were prepared with substantive arguments to present to the Board as to why the NPDES Permit issued to NRG, the operator of the Mandalay Generating Station, should not be ended.
This State-issued Permit sets forth the environmental regulations which must be met during operation of the steam generating station including its water pumps that are integral to the plant operations. NRG petitioned the State Water Board to end the Permit because all generating operations at Mandalay Bay have been confirmed by the State as closed down.
The agenda item, which typically would have been a routine consent item on the meeting’s agenda, was placed on the “Contested Agenda” due to the huge outpouring of community letters sent to the Board. Over 150 letters were noted as having been received. The Commissioners acknowledged this outporing was a clear indication of an engaged and very concerned community.
Nearly all who spoke before the Board argued that that Operator had an obligation to “stay at the table” because the cessation of the water pumps has contributed to the “water quality crisis” in Channel Islands Harbor. It was reasoned that the presence of an open NPDES permit would be the incentive needed to bring NRG to the table so that public agencies, stakeholders, and NRG could work out a “Plan B” to replace the loss of the effect of the generating station’s pumps.
The pumps, when operating, enabled the south-to-north circulatory flushing of the Channel Islands Harbor. This flushing design was integral to the Harbor’s plan from its start. Upon the cessation of the pumps, the Channel Islands Harbor has suffered a water quality crises.
Despite the pleas for “just give us more time to work out an answer before releasing NRG”, the Board voted 5-0 to end the Permit.
Citing that they have no legal basis to not release the Permit, the Board concurrently assured the attendees numerous times that it and the Water Board staff will stay involved in the issues confronting Channel Islands Harbor.
The Chair, Madelyn Glickfeld, as well as most every Commissioner and the Water Board staff, pledged on-going support to both the public agencies and the stakeholders in terms of expertise, funding and administration and, almost as importantly, “eyes” as to what is going on in terms of water quality deterioration.
STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT STEPS CINC WILL TAKE
TO MAKE CERTAIN THIS ISSUE STAYS FRONT AND CENTER.