Consultant’s report: tritium levels OK
Daily Planet readers of a commentary by Mark McDonald in the July 18 issue should be aware of accurate information regarding a city of Berkeley consultant’s report on tritium emissions at the Laboratory.
First, the main point of the consultant’s report is that there is no evidence of offsite exposures above the Environmental Protection Agency’s public health standard of 10 mrem per year. The exposures are far below regulatory limits.
Readers may view the entire IFEU Preliminary Technical Report on the Review of Radiological Monitoring at LBNL, and a Laboratory consultant’s comments on this report, on the Internet at http://www.lbl.gov/ehs/tritium/.
The following corrections to the McDonald commentary should be noted:
• Data from the Laboratory’s seven ambient air monitors were reviewed and verified for accuracy and reliability by the city’s consultant.
• IFEU reviewed inventory data for tritium at Berkeley Lab, and the IFEU report agrees with the Laboratory and the U.S. EPA conclusions that airborne emissions are most reliably measured by air sampling.
• The NTLF is not operating less; it is releasing less, due to the fact that it is operating more efficiently. Process improvements now allow tritiation reactions to be carried out with reduced amounts of tritium, and with more complete capture and recycling of the tritium used.
Consequently less tritium is now being released from the stack.
• The city of Berkeley and its consultant, IFEU, have chosen to participate in the 21-member Environmental Sampling Project Task Force.
This group was established to provide a broad array of community stakeholders, including the city of Berkeley, and the public, with an organized way to comment on the draft sampling plan, the sampling itself and the results.
Overall, the IFEU report draws the same conclusion that the Lab and its regulators have: there is no evidence of offsite exposures above the EPA public health standard of 10 mrem per year. The exposures are far below regulatory limits.
The Lab anticipates a continuing cooperative working relationship with the city of Berkeley’s consultant, IFEU, on this issue. I encourage your readers to attend the August 10, 2000, meeting of the Task Force, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way in Berkeley to learn more about the draft sampling plan and the consultant and community comments.
Community Relations, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Berkeley needs affordable housing
The “crowd of two different minds” at the Zoning Adjustment Board meeting, as described in “No ruling yet on 2700 San Pablo Ave. project,” in the Weekend July 29-30) edition suggests that Berkeley has a split personality about housing.
High density housing is fine, and promotes needed affordable housing, but don’t build it in my back yard.
With all the demand from the well-to-do, public policy should ensure that people of modest means can still live in our city. People running our service economy need to live near their work; they shouldn’t have to commute in from some far-off Soweto. Besides, economic opportunity tends to be more equal among people who live together.
I agree with Michael Yarne that San Pablo Avenue is the right place to build high density housing. The San Pablo corridor has good bus service, and AC Transit has plans for making it better. Public policy should encourage transit-oriented development.
Berkeley should encourage housing without required parking. High density housing does not have to lead to more cars on the roads. It’s possible to live without a car, if one lives near a bus line with frequent service.
Affordable housing should not be subsidized. The developers have the knowledge and resources to design housing that can be offered at an affordable price. All they need is the right kind of incentives.
The Zoning Adjustment Board is the public body to set up incentives. In places like San Pablo Avenue, they should zone for four or more stories, and not issue a building permit unless 20% of the units are going to be affordable.
Congress could halt oil companies’ price-gouging
This Spring, when gas prices shot up to over $2 a gallon, the oil companies said that the spike was caused by OPEC, or by taxes, or by “market conditions.” Now, Chevron’s earnings report is out and we see that its profits rose by $ 650 million to $ 1.14 billion, up 135% from last year. The Exxon-Mobil Corp’s earnings more than doubled. The facts are clear that those price hikes were not caused by passing higher operating costs through to the consumer; they were excess charges to make more profit.
How can consumers protect themselves from price-gouging by these oil monopolies? The government is the only force powerful enough to control their greed. A Democratic Congress could levy a windfall profits tax on their predatory profits. Trust-busters in the Justice Department should reverse the deregulation of the Reagan-Bush era and break apart those mega-merged oil monoliths.
Could voters be made to believe that two oilmen from Texas will protect consumer interests? The Republicans are spending millions on TV advertisements to try to make us think so. Bush and Cheney to reduce gas prices? Yeah, right! “Compassionate conservatism” means leaving your wallet at the gas pump.
New ordinance could hurt students
Please convey my compliments to William Inman on his excellent coverage of the City Council’s tortured discussion of eviction control tightening. His concluding paragraph, a quote from Ms. Bernay of the rent board, is, however, most puzzling and begs for further elucidation. Just how will the proposed changes in the ordinance “help every single student”?
Common sense dictates that placing further constraints on eviction will result in further limitation on turnover of Berkeley apartments, thus fewer vacancies available for students seeking accommodations. The only students helped by the proposed Good Cause for Eviction amendment are those over 62 years old or disabled who already are sitting tenants, or students who’ve occupied their units for five years or more. These special categories (of students) will be safe from owner move-in eviction. Big deal! But hardly one that justifies Bernay’s claim that the proposed amendment will “help every single student.”
Quite to the contrary. Tightening eviction controls limits turnover and shrinks the supply of available rentals, thus compounding the negative effects of twenty years of rent restrictions. New renters, students in particular, should be aware that the past twenty years of an unreasonably stringent rent law has shrunk our pre-1980, price controlled rental stock by twenty to twenty-five percent. The scarce vacancies for which new tenants compete are already priced at market level, and will be forced even higher by any measure that further limits supply. Students as well as other new tenants need less, not more, restriction of Berkeley’s residential rental market.
(Editor’s note: the ballot measure addresses seniors 60 years and older and tenants – including students – who have occupied their apartments for five years or longer.)