ACPG meeting Thursday includes Powerlink issues as well as proposals for a solar farm, a hotel, zoning changes, and a new park for Alpine
By Miriam Raftery
September 21, 2011 (Alpine) – An already hot agenda for tomorrow night’s Alpine Community Planning Group meeting (set for 6 p.m. at the Alpine Community Center) just got hotter.
On September 19, Aspen, environmental consultant to the California Public Utilities Commission on the Sunrise Powerlink project, released a report on construction and compliance activites for the high-voltage power line. The report reveals over 30 cases of non-compliance and serious incidents including fires, diesel spills, accidents, ignoring monitoring requirements, and heavy objects falling from helicopters--again.
Some of the incidents, such as two 16,000-pound towers dropped by the project’s sky crane helicopter, have previously been publicized. But many others come as news to both planners and the public.
These include several fires caused by construction activities, diesel fuel spills, a skid falling off a helicopter, a forklift toppling over, and a helicopter dropping an air compressor. Aspen also reveals deaths of several endangered or threatened species (though others were safely relocated), as well as unauthorized disturbance of sites without monitors present and failure to promptly report discovery of significant biological resources. (Scroll down for details)
Other Hot Topics on Agenda
Other major items on the ACPG agenda for Thursday include a presentation by Viejas on a proposed hotel project, filling of a vacancy on the Alpine Design and Review Board, a proposed solar farm in Alpine, a County presentation on a proposed park by Albertson’s, and proposed zoning changes for Alpine Blvd.
But the topic most likely to evoke fireworks is an SDG&E proposal to expand hours of operation at a time when many merchants are seeing business dry up due to the two-year-long construction project amid an already weak economy.
Disturbing details in report on SDG&E's Sunrise Powerlink Project
The new report adds fuel to the firestorm of controversy surrounding the Sunrise Powerlink project. Serious incidents reported include:
August 15, 2011: A 2-acre brush fire was ignited by sparks from a loose chain on a project vehicle.
August 5, 2011: A fire caused by excavation activities burned a 50 x 50 foot area.
May 5, 2011: Three small fires were reported on Link 4 underground; fire tools were used to respond and Alpine Fire was notified.
July 11, 2011: A skid fell off the KMax Helicopter en route to a tower site; no injuries were reported.
August 4, 2011: An air compressor was dropped by a KMAX helicopter, spilling 50 to 60 gallons of diesel fuel in an area 75 feet in diameter
August 13, 2011: A project truck went off an embankment 300 feet on Lyons Valley Road. No injuries were reported.
August 18, 2011: An unsteady load caused a forklift to fall to its side, spilling a small amount of hydraulic fluid.
August 26, 2011: Approximately 32 ounces of diesel fuel were released near 2754 Alpine Blvd by a construction truck.
ACTS OF NON-COMPLIANCE
December 7, 2010: SDG&E failed to report unanticipated biological resources within 48 hours as required.
March 15, 2011: Staking crews were operating and were delivered by helicopters within the protected golden eagle buffer zone.
September 16, 2011: Construction activities were commenced before the arrival of biological monitors.
Other acts of noncompliance included unauthorized removal of a nest from a water truck , operating in unauthorized areas, and discharge of 1,000 gallons of potable water into Coyote Wash after a water tanker became stuck, and more. In addition, three flat-tailed horned lizards and a San Diego desesrt woodrat were found dead in apparent construction-related incidents.
The report also summarizes transmission line construction progress to date as well as numerous variances requested for items ranging from expanding construction space and hours to additional vegetation clearing and modification of mitigation requirements.
It also indicates that SDG&E reported the fires and that no injuries were reported in the accidents listed. View the complete report.