Letters for the week of March 9-15, 2005 

PG&E could help save us from a postquake firestorm; Linda Lovelace was a slave; and PDBEs are kid stuff.

"It's Everybody's Fault," Feature, 2/23

PG&E needs to step up
Mr. Gammon's article on earthquakes shows he has a good understanding of the risk. He left almost no stone unturned.

Gammon correctly identifies that fire spread remains a really tough problem. In the mid-1990s, Berkeley backed down from building a $30 million state-of-the-practice reliable saltwater system, even though they knew how to build it, and had the money. Instead, today they are looking to buy pumps and ultralarge diameter hose to suck water from the San Francisco Bay to fight a fire at Shattuck.

Today's (February 24) demonstration of this system by a possible vendor at the Berkeley Marina, attended by many fire officials, left most of us wondering if this $8 million project is nuts: It took them ninety minutes just to set up the pumps, never mind the valuable minutes (or hours) it would take to lay the hose all the way to where a fire might occur.

The manpower needed to use such a system, and its slowness in deployment, leaves me wondering: Will it make the problem worse, as all those people won't be available to do some real emergency work while they are installing pumps at the bay and laying miles of hose that might break when cars drive over it? And as, even if it all gets installed, the saltwater won't save much of anything that hasn't already been burnt by the time they get there?

This observer went home after today's demonstration wondering if this is the best way to solve the problem. A much cheaper and smarter way is to for PG&E to spend $3 million to de-energize its Moraga substation within five seconds after the "big one on the Hayward fault." This would eliminate perhaps half the fire ignitions, and give the fire department personnel a lot better chance to control the other fires and damage that will occur.

I call upon Gordon Smith, president of PG&E, to explain why such a big and rich company does not step up to the plate and take a leadership role in getting this vital system put in place, and get it done now. While he is at it, we want PG&E to ensure that the 115 kV buried transmission cable, which crosses the Hayward fault near Lake Temescal, has been upgraded so that it does not break. That might be hard to do, but PG&E has some of the best engineers in the world; all that is needed is a little leadership from the top, and they can get it done.
John Eidinger, Olympic Valley

"Deep Impact," Film, 2/9

Sexual slavery starts at home
Concerning Michael Fox' review of Inside Deep Throat: His thorough journalistic interest could benefit from reading Linda Lovelace's Ordeal, which clarifies the life experience of the only person Deep Throat could not have been produced without. Lovelace wasn't allowed to empty her bladder without Chuck Traynor's permission. After medical examination, a gynecologist asked her, "Who did this to you?"

Lovelace believed that sexual slaves have souls. She struggled to free herself, and succeeded. In our country, where the most frequent cause of death of pregnant women is murder (a National Institutes of Health statistic), shining the light of reality is worth the work. Sexual-slavery trafficking is a worldwide problem.
K.D.F. Reynolds, Oakland

"New Bay Incarnate," Feature, 2/2

A talent you left out
Your profile on the "New Bay Movement" was inspiring and insightful. I appreciated your acknowledgment of some of the more talented up-and-coming Bay Area artists, more importantly the blurbs which included Goapele and Saadiq. However, you forgot one underground artist here in the Bay that has yet to really hit the surface.

I came across Elijah Henry (ElijahHenry.com) while he was signed to the now-defunct Delicious Vinyl Records. He calls his stuff "rhythm & eclectic"; I just think it's great music.
J. Jones, Oakland

"The Gorilla in the Closet," Cityside, 2/16

Tyrannosaur in the closet?
Since I've been victimized by a chemical worse than the one you wrote about, I was keenly interested in your fine article. I just do not understand why no one ever writes about pentachlorophenol (penta, PCP). PCP -- not the PCBs that were in transformers -- is the most used, deadliest dioxin [spewer] in the world.

There is no doubt in my mind, after much study, that it is the biggest polluter and killer out there. It is a shame that the press is afraid or too ignorant to write about the "Third Rail of Poisons." Penta is such a killer that if the facts were out, you'd see it kills more than tobacco and asbestos combined. This is a fact. But the press won't touch it!

A new book is out there about Dow, and another just on the penta crimes. Of course, few will read them. It is the dioxin from the penta that is really the killer of killers. But no press. Why do you think it's banned all over the world except here?
T.H. Myers, Pinole

Editor's Note
The abovementioned "penta" should not be confused with the penta mentioned in our article, which is shorthand for penta-DBE, a member of the toxic PDBE (polybrominated diphenyl ether) family of chemicals.


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