Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Shasta County Addresses Chemtrails... sort of.

'Chemtrails' conspiracy: Shasta board to talk about jets' metal dumping

By Ryan Sabalow (Contact)
Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A conspiracy theory that says government agencies are using jets to dump poisonous heavy metals into the atmosphere moves today from the realm of late-night talk radio call-in shows to the Shasta County supervisors chambers.

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors, acting as the Air Pollution Control Board, will hear at its 1:30 p.m. meeting a presentation by Dane Wigington and others about "heavy metal contamination" -- referred to by some as the "chemtrails" conspiracy.

Wigington, a 46-year-old renewable energy consultant from Bella Vista, like a growing number of conspiracy theorists, thinks a government cabal is using jets to dump metals into the atmosphere to combat global warming -- or for other, more nefarious purposes.

The theorists say the contrails of the jets provide the most visible evidence of the dumping, since on clear days, the vapor trails are unnaturally slow to dissipate and often appear in gridlike patterns.

But the proof locally is in soil and snow samples, Wigington said.

Area scientists have taken more than 40 samples in the north state, including on the sides of Mt. Shasta, and all of them showed abnormally high levels of heavy metals like aluminum, he said.

The metals are new and in places where they shouldn’t be, he said. The dumping may also be contributing to disastrous weather patterns, Wigington said.

"It’s tough not to connect to that with what happened in June with the 3,000-plus lightning strikes we had," he said, adding that it’s important the public hear more about the alleged dumpings’ detrimental effects on the environment. "This is certainly a public health hazard."

Shasta County Supervisor Mark Cibula said he requested that the board discuss the matter after receiving requests from community members.

Other board members also have expressed interest on the topic, he said.

Although he’s not sold on the conspiracy, Cibula said, he thinks it’s appropriate to hear what Wigington’s group has to say.

"Let’s look at the information and see what we’ve got there," Cibula said.

Reporter Ryan Sabalow can be reached at 225-8344 or at rsabalow@redding.com.

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Board to forward contrail fears

Supervisors listen to concerned residents, send DVD to officials

Kimberly Ross, Record Searchlight
Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Residents who suspect plane contrails are showering harmful metal particulates on Shasta County made their plea for local testing Tuesday, but instead their concerns will be sent to state and federal officials.

The Shasta County Board of Supervisors, acting as the county's Air Pollution Control Board, heard from 13 speakers at their Tuesday meeting. About 40 people attended.

Residents who addressed the board said they've recorded high levels of metals like aluminum, barium and strontium in various parts of the county. They fear a public health threat from the contrails, which some call "chemtrails."

Several said they resent being dubbed "conspiracy theorists," including Francis Mangels, a retired biological scientist who worked for the U.S. Forest Service.

"I don't want to be labeled with a bunch of wild-eyed hippies. I am a scientist. The duty of a scientist is to call to attention the potential dangers to society," he said.

Some speakers said testing would cost the county about $21 per test. Mangels said after the meeting that he estimates a study would cost the county a couple thousand dollars.

Resource Management Director Russ Mull told the board it could approve adequate testing of contrails' effects, which he estimated would cost $500,000 to $1 million.

But "jelly jar" experiments aren't enough to be scientifically acceptable and exclude external contaminates, he said.

“If you want to take samples out in your backyard by your swing set that can’t be used for anything, that’s probably going to cost you 20 to 30 bucks,” he said.

Furthermore, Mull said state and federal agencies already are aware of fears about jet contrails, and those agencies would be the ones to watch for dangers.

“The state of California has a standard response that they give” to the issue, which it doesn’t consider a threat, he said.

During the meeting, Dane Wigington made a presentation and showed a news report KTVU aired recently in the San Francisco Bay area. It discussed cloud seeding and weather modification and included an interview with a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. meteorologist.

Reached by phone later Tuesday, PG&E’s supervising meteorologist Byron Marler said there is no connection between the contrails issue and the cloud seeding conducted every winter along the Sierra Nevada range by PG&E, water districts and irrigation districts.

“I would not say that (metals claimed in contrails) is a founded concern, but you can read about it on the Internet,” he said.

Cloud seeding technology was discovered in the late 1940s and PG&E has used it since the early ’50s, he said.

Although aircraft sometimes are used, PG&E uses burning devices on stands 8 to 10 feet tall to release silver iodide in a solution of acetone into the air. The devices affect the area around Lassen Peak and southeast to Lake Almanor.

The outdoor-barbecue-sized propane burners are used for 30 to 50 days a year, from Nov. 1 to May 31, and only during snowstorms, Marler said. The goal is to encourage more snow and build up the annual snowpack, he said.

The process doesn’t form a contrail, nor does it release the heavy metals some Shasta County residents are concerned about, Marler said.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Wigington called Mull’s high-dollar estimate “ridiculous.”

He thinks it was the main reason the air pollution board gave little or no consideration Tuesday to conducting air, soil or water tests, he said.

“I think they did what they could, based on an absolute lie,” said Wigington, a 46-year-old renewable energy consultant from Bella Vista.

Instead, board members voted 4-0 to send DVD copies of Tuesday’s videotaped meeting to state and federal agencies to illustrate the concerns of some residents. Chairwoman Linda Hartman was absent.

Supervisor Mark Cibula had asked that the issue be put on the agenda at the request of its proponents, but said in Tuesday’s meeting that he didn’t think it warranted further action, such as in a letter supporting testing.

“I don’t think we’re in a position to state advocacy,” he said.

Reporter Kimberly Ross can be reached at 225-8339 or at kross@redding.com.

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