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Know the West


  "If you build it, we will burn it!" read a fax claiming responsibility for a fire at a West Jordan, Utah, lumberyard in mid-June. The fire, set by the Earth Liberation Front, which now tops the FBI’s list of domestic terrorists, caused $1.5 million in damage to Stock Building Supply (HCN, 9/15/03: Burning one for the road). According to the fax — sent from an "unsecured" dental office at the University of Utah — the lumberyard was targeted because its owners have ignored warnings to repair polluting forklifts.

Should New Mexico have a say in deciding whether a private company can build a uranium-enrichment plant in the state? If it’s up to Louisiana Energy Services and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which issues permits for nuclear facilities, that answer may be "no." Although he initially supported plans for the facility, Gov. Bill Richardson has come to doubt the wisdom of allowing LES to generate a radioactive by-product that no waste facility in the country can legally accept (HCN, 2/16/04: No place for pesky nuclear waste). But it may be too late: LES has asked the commission to block information from the state concerning disposal, and the NRC has agreed it will not consider this "new evidence" when issuing a permit.

Young fall chinook salmon are dying in the Klamath River, and biologists are predicting an adult fish kill later this summer that could rival the 2003 die-off (HCN, 6/23/03: Sound science goes sour). Two naturally occurring diseases are spreading more rapidly than normal; as river temperatures rise, fish crowd into the coolest spots they can find. Disease spreads easily under those conditions, and has infected perhaps 80 percent of the chinook salmon heading for the ocean. But the Bureau of Reclamation has no more water to send downstream, and all biologists can do is "document the extent of the event," says Gary Stacey, fisheries program manager with the California Department of Fish and Game’s North Coast Region. "Pointing fingers isn’t going to help," he adds. "Collaboration is the key to focus on for long-term solutions."