Re "Plant in Surf City to Bleach Waste," Feb. 23:
According to The Times, the Orange County Sanitation District will use bleach to eliminate potential danger from the effluent off Huntington Beach. Is this to protect the public by disinfecting the effluent? No, it's to give the illusion of protection, another con job by the authorities.
As stated in the article, half the waste water receives only primary treatment. Any sanitary engineer worth his or her salt knows better than to chlorinate primary effluent. Chlorine (bleach) might disinfect the secondary effluent but not the primary effluent because the suspended solids are not treatable with chlorine. Even though it can disinfect the exterior surfaces, the interior is unaffected. As the solids break up in the outfall plume, the mass of entrained bacteria is released. As a result, the effect of the chlorine is negligible.
This does not necessarily mean that the effluent is dangerous, just that the chlorination is an illusion to fool the public.
Joseph F. Cuny
Sanitation District officials have been told since 1996 (or, possibly, 1987) that the sewage plume comes "uncomfortably close" to our precious surfing and swimming beaches. They say bleaching the bacteria is only an interim solution but necessary now that they accept their critics' contention that "swimming in lumpy water is a fact, not an hypothesis to be tested." But the solution, $10 million (not the $5 million originally estimated) worth of bleach each year, is more akin to pounding bugs with a sledgehammer than swatting a few pesky flies now and then. Pollution of our beaches is an off-again, on-again thing, but until science can tell us exactly when to disinfect, the first answer should be better sewage treatment.
Re "Differing Views of Losing Sewage Waiver," Feb. 24:
On Feb. 5, representatives from the Orange County Sanitation District advised the Fullerton City Council that there is no scientific proof that the sewage plume comes to shore. Six days later it was learned that the plume was half a mile off Newport Pier at a depth of 45 feet. We thank the district for its decision to disinfect the millions of gallons of waste water with chlorine. However, because chlorine brings with it unknown risks to marine life and the potential to form chemical byproducts, we trust this will be a temporary measure as the district considers full secondary treatment, abandoning its 301(h) waiver.
Re "9 O.C. Wells Closed," Jan. 30:
Let's be more accurate. You state: "[T]reated sewage was injected into the ground water." A reader might interpret this to mean the sewage was only disinfected and then injected into the aquifer. Instead, high-purity water is extracted from sewage after much processing, including a final filtering through reverse-osmosis membranes. Only then is it injected into the ground-water supply.
Also, you refer to the amount expected to cause one cancer death per million people. This information comes from the Environmental Protection Agency, which has accepted an "extrapolation theory" that has not been proved. The theory suggests that if the number of cancer cases versus the contamination level of a substance follows a straight line when graphed, then from known high contamination levels we can extrapolate to low levels and show the number of cancer deaths that will result.
The problem is, we have never proved that this extrapolation theory is correct for any substance, particularly for very low levels of contamination. The EPA regularly uses these kinds of extrapolations, then publishes the result as fact.
The Orange County Water District has done the right thing in closing these wells in order to meet EPA and state requirements. My fear is that citizens will be unduly frightened by these bogus cancer death projections. Our citizens should be made aware of how these contamination levels are set. The bottom line: Our tap water is safe.
President, Board of Directors
East Orange County
Water District, North Tustin
Re "Agency Asks Approval to Fight Runoff," Jan. 28:
I live in the Salt Creek watershed (Dana Point), a small watershed by most standards. Since 1993, when I moved here, I've seen it deteriorate from a clean creek filled with waterfowl into a filthy collection basin for street runoff that includes dog feces and lawn chemicals. It is moribund now, and death is imminent. The pretty beach towns, vacation spots like Dana Point, don't complain much because calling attention to the pollution is bad for business. But something needs to be done by the polluters: us.