Judge deflates Baykeeper Balloon Track lawsuit

If this lawsuit fails, I can always resort to selling t-shirts and giving boat tours around the bay!

With nary a peep from any of the normally vocal environmental groups since his ruling last week, U.S. District Court Judge Jeff White dismissed the Humboldt Baykeeper’s major claim in its lawsuit against Eureka’s Balloon Track owners.

Baykeeper and its parent organization, the equally litigiously crazed Ecological Rights Foundation, filed the suit in 2006 claiming, among other things, that past and present owners of the property failed to secure the required discharge permits and allowed toxic stormwater to run into nearby Humboldt Bay.

Their lawyers have spent untold thousands of dollars (millions?) trying to sway the court into buying into a stinking pile of unconstitutional feces that the Balloon Track’s owner should be fined $32,500 per day for more than 3,000 separate Clean Water Act violations going back to early 2001.

That’s roughly $97 million, or just enough for any owner to abandon any thoughts of development on the property, right? That’s surely what wetlands advocate and California Coastal Commission buddy Bill Pierson was counting on anyway.

Not so fast said White, who ruled the laws don’t actually allow fines for discharge violations when there isn’t any discharge. Seems simple enough to us, but what the fuck do we know? Baykeeper and the other environmental elite know what’s best for us all. The court was more likely to believe there were less than 60 days during that nearly decade period when significant Northcoast storms delivered enough water to flush any potential toxins into the bay. White ordered the parties back to mediation.

With September nearly here and what may well be another record wet year, how much longer will Baykeeper pursue its seemingly ironic plan to block the only real cleanup of the property that has been sitting idle for decades?


36 Responses

  1. Pete and his cronies ought to go back to suing out of state mega-corporations for Proposition 65 violations. Those are so much more lucrative.

  2. I think we oughtta sic ’em on the Ground Zero Mosque guys. Now there’s some deep pockets, and a project that needs to be stopped. Imagine all the toxins. who better to grind the whole thing to a halt than good ol’ honest Pete. He’d be in hog heaven.

  3. Despite all their crocodile tears over the need for “full characterization” of the site and other bureaucratic enviro-speak, this site is not nearly as polluted as they claim and the amount of dioxins is laughably low.

    For the love of crab cakes, let’s just put a choke chain on the lawyers and get on with the clean-up. Vote YES on Measure N so we can move the Marina Center project forward.

  4. But how are they going to make the boat payment this month? Won’t somebody think of the lawyers?

  5. Wait, R-andy, didn’t you offer Baykeeper a cool million to drop the case? And they turned it down? Something tells me the other charges are more considerable than you are suggesting. With the trial date in less than a month, why make an offer if the most significant charges were dropped?

    I’d say Baykeeper probably has you guys by the balls. Good luck with that-

  6. Brian Mitchell, you “hammered” this one home!

  7. Mitchell?! heh……don’t believe everything the TS reports, boys!….or, more accurately, everything that comes out of the mouths of, the remaining, Death Star employees/interns.

  8. Hey CUESUV
    I’d bet the $1MM is far above the amount of any amount of potential “damages” when you take into account delays to the project, legal fees, etc. sometimes it’s just cheaper to pay off the litigants. This is what many of these groups dream of; money to go away. Paykeepers and others who pursue this rathole out of ambition to get Arkley or protect their patron saint of donations will end up with nothing and the rest of us will have to watch as it takes years and piles of expenses for a cleanup and restoration of what should be one of the jewels of Eureka. No one gave a rats ass about the Balloon Tract until it was proposed that it actually be cleaned up and turned into something usefull. Let’s see Baykeeper, EPIC, Ecological Rights invest some money in this community and build something instead of suing and sucking the lifeblood out of any project that has promise.

  9. Still doesn’t explain why Baykeeper turned it down. They must smell blood.

    It’s okay to tap out when thy’ve got ya by the balls-

  10. Chris, nobody knows the extent of the pollution. People get that we need full characterization, not capping it off for future generations.

    You seem to want to characterize, or frame, the November election with this redundant, immoral and likely illegal fake issue. Even if it’s legal, that does not make it right.

    A Yes on N should disqualify public officials. The city has no business selling ballot spots to anyone – “reimbursement” or not.

  11. Can someone translate for turtle? WTF does he mean saying Yes on N should DQ a public official? From what you dufus? Eee gads there are some pretty unintelligible proglidites (my made up word) blogging this election cycle. I am betting N passes by 75 percent to 80 percent.

  12. Sigh – how many million times have people pointed out other instances of capping that received no attention from the ‘proglitites’ (good word) – and if this was Bill Pierson’s project with a Trader Joes, why do we know there would be no pushback?

    Nor can “turtle” explain why others around the bay with similar issues get no attention, unless he admits it is a deep pocket, anti-Arkley and only anti-Arkley thing.

    How much money can the predatory orgs get? That’s what this is about. That’s what they do, that’s all they do.

  13. I can’t believe that Baykeeper paid $82,687 for their boat! The certainly have found a lucrative biz-nass.

  14. There is a spot out in t he middle of the Arcata Bay of Humboldt Bay that has been identified as having dixon. Since there is nobody to sue over this one, nothing happens. It is in the water. Not potentially draining to the bay, IN the freaking bay. Where’s the concern? Who gives a shit? Speak up or forever remain with dixon in your body. Oops, already there in all of us.

  15. John, are you speaking about Nancy Flemming’s house?

  16. The paykeeper’s motto: If you disagree with us, we’ll sue the fuck out of you.

  17. Mole- you have a dirty mouth for being the son of a preacher.

  18. did anyone catch the reprint of the letter in the Arcata Eye regarding the Timber Heritage Society sprinter? Seems good ole Pete and his cronies don’t care for trains either. Gee, what’s next? Sue anyone that disagrees for breathing?

    On a side note, my dad always maintained that a little dixoin made the crab taste better! Bon Apetit.

  19. Activist Judges?

  20. Yeah, Tom….Activist Judges…who woulda thunk?

  21. 9:15. You are truly fucked up. Go somewhere else. I like this site but you need to be censored.

  22. We don’t like to pull comments, but we’ve got to draw the line at haters. Hugs!!!

  23. Other sites which were capped were fully characterized first.
    Don’t ask – Don’t tell – Just Cap? T’aint right.

  24. That’s right Turtle… they were. Too bad Paykeeper is preventing PRELIMINARY testing of the site to do just that.

  25. exrepub, humboldtturtle, greg. Your completely full of shit. Like most prog’s you quote the moral higher ground when in fact your morals suck.

  26. “Fully characterized”, what the hell kind of prog made-up term is that? Is that the new term for completely analyzing the soil for contaminants? Does some this newly minted term somehow mask the stench of private vendetta at the public expense?

  27. R_andy told me they’ve got this Paykeeper suit in the bag

    Fuck em’

  28. A turtle smackdown by the pithy and brilliant Josehpine B. Gotta love that gal.

  29. What is the extent of the pollution on the Balloon Track property in Eureka? That should be the first question.

    Union Pacific, former owner of the one-time rail yard, is facing massive clean-up costs on other rail properties that are similarly polluted. One 61-acre property in Las Vegas faces $30 million in clean-up costs and U.P. is doing it’s best to worm out of paying the bill.

    In Lincoln, Nebraska, U.P. won’t allow testing of a property until the city signs a purchase agreement.

    Why the secrecy?

    In Eureka, when Security National bought the Balloon Track from Union Pacific, it agreed to assume responsibility for cleaning up Union Pacific’s mess.

    But SN’s “clean-up” plan calls for pushing soil around the property before tests identify which toxins exist — and where they exist — on the 43-acre property.

    To complicate matters, portions of the property were used as a log deck by Schmidbauer Lumber over the last many months. And while the winter (and spring) rains turned to the dioxin-laden property into a toxic stew, the log deck was removed by trucks that carried the muck onto city streets.

    Security National is pushing a clean-up plan that forgoes analysis of the current state of the property. Based on current situations in other areas mentioned above, Union Pacific must appreciate that.

    This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 at 12:10 pm and is filed under Balloon Track, Rob Arkley, Union Pacific, environment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

  30. Union Pacific Corp.’s quarterly profit climbed 53% as the company posted volume growth for a second consecutive period.

    The railroad company also notched freight revenue growth across all business segments.

    Union Pacific posted a second-quarter profit of $711 million, or $1.40 a share, up from $465 million, or 92 cents a share, a year earlier. The year-earlier results included a gain of 14 cents a share related to a Colorado land sale. Operating revenue climbed 27% to $3.96 billion.

  31. Union Pacific has the money to clean up their mess. In fact, to them it’s chump change. N – NO.

  32. I still don’t understand why you folks don’t want Union Pacific to pay to clean up the tract. Then SN can proceed with their project. Why is that not an option.

  33. I don’t think UP owns the property anymore; thanks for all of the cut n pastes, though, that must’ve taken seconds of work.

  34. It doesn’t matter who owns the property. Financial liability for pollution goes back through to the polluter: the railroad.

    Lawyers work on contingencies. Name one that wouldn’t like a piece of Union Pacific.

  35. (Baykeeper Director Pete Nichols did not want to be interviewed for this story, saying his staff attorney, Michelle Smith, would be a better contact. Smith did not respond to our request for an interview.)
    -North Coast Journal “Sympathy for the Brownfield”

    A feature story on Sneaky Pete’s favorite subject and he has nothing to say? Hiding behind his staff attorney who is unavailable to comment? Afraid than an open discussion might lead to an actual cleanup and cut him out of lawsuit fees? Enquiring minds want to know.

  36. Thought you were going to win, eh?

    Wow, what happened?!?

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