Letter: RBUSD Must Oppose AES Plans to Repower

Emissions from a repowered AES Redondo Beach would have some very serious health effects on children in Redondo Beach Unified School District, writes Roger Light.

I was very disappointed with the Redondo Beach Board of Education’s failure to take any meaningful stand against the rebuilding of the polluting and unnecessary AES power plant at their last public meeting. Once again the leaders we have elected to look out for our interests have demonstrated their limited understanding of the issues and appear to be concerned only with doing what is less confrontational.

While denial is always comfortable, political courage and action are our best tools for positive change. The hypocrisy of attempting to encourage healthy eating habits and develop young minds while refusing to take a stand against rebuilding a power plant that will significantly adversely effect the health and brain development of thousands of our students at a number of our schools in the path of the pollution cloud under the smoke stack of the AES power plant is striking.

A series of recent studies on children have all found a negative impact of air pollution on cognition (thinking ability). These findings are most dramatically associated with particulate pollution, which is expected to increase by a factor of at least 5 according to AES’s own filings. Boston University School of Public Health published a report in 2008 that followed children from birth through 10 years of age. They found that children exposed to greater levels of a certain type of particulate scored significantly worse on tests of memory, as well as both verbal and nonverbal intelligence. More recently, a study published this year by researchers from Columbia University followed children from birth to age 7 and found that children exposed to higher levels of urban air pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons while in utero were more likely to experience attention problems and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Similarly a study from the University of Michigan found that children exposed to the highest levels of pollution had the lowest attendance rates and a greater percentage of children who failed to meet state testing standards.

Studies in Mexico City, a notoriously polluted place, have found that the brains of dogs in the city had significantly more signs of brain deterioration (amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles both associated with Alzheimer’s disease in humans) compared to dogs outside of the city. MRI scans identified brain changes in children living in Mexico City, as well as lower scores on tests of memory, cognition, and intelligence. Is it our goal to become another Mexico City?

To argue that because there are other greater polluters out there (e.g., large numbers of cars and trucks) we should do nothing to stop a major unnecessary source of pollution is like saying we should not try to cure cancer because more people die from heart disease.

The failure of the majority of the school board to take at least the reasonable position that a power plant next to thousands of their students is a bad idea is unfathomable. Our children deserve better. Please vote YES on Measure A and NO to rebuilding the AES power plant.

Roger Light, Ph.D.
Clinical Neuropsychologist
Redondo Beach

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Fred Reardon December 18, 2012 at 08:11 AM
New plant supporters are hoping that, because the toxins released from smoke stacks are invisible, people will think it's ok for AES to pollute the air we breathe. I see the giant toxic plume and wonder how many pollution particles are entering the lungs of my family and neighbors? I wonder why someone would want to place a new power plant, spewing even more pollution into our lungs, in this densely populated area? I see the toxic plume and I wonder why is the closest monitoring system of the Air Quality Management District 4 miles or more away? I witness the toxic plume and I wonder why, in this day and age, are we still placing smoke stacks in an area so close to people without a buffer? I wonder how anyone, with any common sense, can think that spewing tons and tons of dangerous toxins (particulate mater) into the air, so close to people, isn't going to harm them? I wonder why some people have a sense of entitlement to pollute the air we breathe? I see the toxic smokestacks and wonder why our public officials are not looking out for our health and safety?
Fred Reardon December 18, 2012 at 08:15 AM
Answer: Supplement the grid with clean renewable energy/electricity. In other communities, people are doing everything they can to clean up the environment, the air, and create a smart, clean, renewable energy supplemented grid. Redondo Beach is a perfect example of city held captive by a huge polluting greedy company and lazy local government and community officials. The only people doing the heavy lifting are volunteers? It would be easier, to be less critical, if some individuals, on the payroll, would actually do something. This unnecessary, unwanted, polluting fossil fuel based power generator is trying to maintain its death grip on the fat contracts and also pursue (appears to be the true agenda) aquatic life killing desalination.
Fred Reardon December 18, 2012 at 08:15 AM
AES is not needed, pollutes, and detracts from a sustainable energy based future for California. Every time one of these (not identified as a necessary "must run" plant) AES type dinosaurs gets built, clean, sustainable renewable energy loses. In this case, a Virginia company profits, we lose California based renewable energy related jobs and, as an extra bonus, get to breathe in nasty toxic emissions. Where is the Redondo Beach Green Task Force? When is our local government and groups in our community, that get paid to protect our health and safety, going to get off their rear ends, drive to Sacramento and other cities where the entities that are charged with making a decision on this plant are located? When are they going to start doing some of the heavy lifting? Please take a stand and help support a zoning change that will send a strong message to the community and those agencies charged with approving a new power plant that we do not want to expose our community to this toxic polluting threat. Vote Yes on Measure A.
Laura Emdee December 19, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Dear Dr. Light, I am disappointed at your bold, inflammatory statements about the RBUSD School Board. The RBUSD has not failed at anything regarding AES. We placed the AES issue as a discussion item on the agenda at the request of Dawn Esser and Scott Kaplan within 2 meetings of their request. The item was discussed then it was transferred to an action item. A discussion item allows for a discussion only, it is the simply the beginning. A place to decide if we want to move forward with an idea. The RBUSD decided to make the issue an action item. Now, that the item is an action item, information will be studied and a resolution will be drafted. Drew Gamet and I have been tasked with this item. The board operates within the laws, the Ed Code, the Brown Act and Robert's Rules of Order. Laura Emdee
Fred Reardon December 19, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Please don't contemplate too long. Delay and inaction will not keep the particulate matter from entering our children's lungs.


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