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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Critic Blasts Civic Center Wastewater Injection Proposal

• Recent Earthquake Findings Linked to Fracking Raises New Questions on Project’s Safety

BY BILL KOENEKER

A city council candidate blasted Mayor Laura Rosenthal last week at the Malibu City Council meeting, calling a newsletter article under the mayor’s name on the safety of injection wells as part of the proposed Civic Center sewer system as not fact-based and lacking scientific evidence.
“You have just published a one-sided piece of what can only objectively be called municipal propaganda,” said council hopeful Hans Laetz. “I very much object to the city going into the news business.”
The March 6 city Updates and News, which alternates with the mayor’s “Ask the Mayor” column, deals with deep well injection methods to discharge treated wastewater.
“The water will be injected at a shallow depth less than 150 feet. This is too shallow to affect the faults in the area. The injected water will not be injected at high pressure and will not fracture the bedrock,” the newsletter asserts.
“There is no science to support this. The city has not one piece of scientific evidence that this injection will somehow avoid the fault that bisects the surface at the Civic Center,” Laetz told the council.
Laetz said the Malibu coastal fault bisects the Civic Center injection area at the surface and the bedrock here is also very close to the surface.
“The city’s information ministry tells you ‘the injected water will not be injected at high pressure and will not fracture the bed rock.’ Well, the water doesn’t need high pressure to fracture the bedrock. The bedrock is almost at the surface. All we need to lubricate the fault is the actual weight of the wastewater itself. That’s up to 760,000 tons of water per year in Malibu.
“Over the life of that project, you’re looking at 37 million tons of wastewater. 37 million tons of pressure, sitting on top of an active earthquake fault that the USGS says is imminently capable of giving us a 6.5 magnitude quake,” Laetz said.
“I do not question your belief that the injection plan is safe, Jim [Thorsen]. I certainly do question the rented consultant’s fact-finding that went into that assessment. No reputable scientist in the world will sign a paper that guarantees with 100 percent certainty that your plan can not ever cause or worsen a quake,” the council hopeful stated.
The mayor responded by saying, “The News and Updates are mine, not Jim’s. Don’t think it is Jim’s. I had help from Olivia [Damavandi, the city’s media information officer].”
Rosenthal did not elaborate on where she got the information or why such strong language about safety was used.
Laetz indicated the city should look to the USGS, Southern California Earthquake Center or Caltech for some answers.
The “Ask the Mayor” column was originally intended to be released weekly on the city’s website, but was recently changed to every other week.

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