Thursday, September 5, 2002
Put Up Your Dukes On Thursday, Sept. 5, a Superior Court judge will hear a lawsuit intended to force Duke Energy to change the cooling system at its recently expanded Moss Landing Power Plant.
The lawsuit, filed last year by the environmental group Voices of the Wetlands, argues that the power plant is not using the best cooling technology available to minimize environmental impacts, as required by federal law.
Duke uses seawater from the Moss Landing Harbor and the Elkhorn Slough to cool generator turbines. Voices of the Wetlands says the system will also suck in and kill marine eggs, plankton and other microorganisms critical to the slough''s ecosystem.
Duke contends that the new design meets environmentalists'' concerns. Screens filter out marine life and the two new generators-which came on line in July-use less seawater than the five old generators they replaced.
A hearing seeking a writ of mandate to halt the plant''s operation until the cooling system is changed is scheduled for 9am, Sept. 5, before Superior Court Judge Robert O''Farrell.
If the court grants the petition for a writ of mandate, the power plant will be forced to stop operations until a new system-and new Regional Water Board permits-are obtained.
Military Builds Housing
The only disappointing thing about last Thursday''s announcement of a joint Army/Navy housing project on Fort Ord is the fact that it won''t actually add to the Peninsula''s housing stock. In fact, it will slightly reduce it.
Pending almost certain congressional approval in the spring, the Presidio and the Naval Postgraduate School together will turn over 2,268 housing units to Clark Pinnacle Family Communities, a development company which by 2010 will demolish, rebuild and renovate a total of 2,064 units on Fort Ord, at NPS and on the Presidio.
But consider the good points: Clark Pinnacle is required to hire local and small business contractors to the tune of $50-$60 million per year for the next seven years; the plans include New Urbanism-inspired concepts like community centers, tree-lined streets and mixed housing; and the houses will be leased to military personnel at affordable rates in keeping with official housing allowances. Those start at about $875 per month, the average being $1,600.
That last part may interest a lot of people who want to know why local developers can''t also make their housing affordable to middle and lower income brackets.
Patrick Kelly, who directs the Residential Communities Initiative, as the program''s called, has an answer. "It''s simple," he says. "The reason this works so well is we''re providing the land at no cost to the developer." When the Army and Navy convey their houses to Clark Pinnacle, the land under them goes also.
Korean Facility Opens at DLI
With 37,000 troops still stationed in South Korea, the U.S. considers the Korean Peninsula a strategic venue, more so now that President Bush placed North Korea in the Axis of Evil along with Iran and Iraq.
This fact was given concrete reality when the Army dedicated its newest language training facility at the Presidio of Monterey last week. On Thursday morning, Aug. 29, the Presidio ceremoniously opened Collins Hall, a $5.2 million building dedicated to the instruction of Korean. The facility features two $250,000 state-of-the-art language labs.
On hand to dedicate the building was Col. Kevin Rice, the commandant of the Defense Language Institute (DLI), and Rep. Sam Farr.
Over the years, the demand for different languages has changed. According to public affairs specialist Kay Rodrigues, what was once a whole program dedicated to teaching German during the Cold War is now only part of a department of European languages. The demand for Russian instruction has dropped, while the need for soldiers who speak Arabic and other languages of Central Asia has grown since Sept. 11.
The military has recognized the need for DLI-trained people.
"It''s been expanding for years, even as the Department of Defense has been pulling in its belt," Rodrigues says.
-Jessica Lyons, Traci Hukill, Andrew Scutro