New delta tunnel dispute focuses on health issue

STOCKTON - Opponents of the delta tunnel plan made a startling accusation Monday. They claimed up to a thousand people near the town of Byron could be relocated during construction because of cancer concerns.

Byron is located about halfway between Stockton and Mt. Diablo. It's just south of Highway 4 in Contra Costa County.

"They ran around with their glossy brochures talking about habitat, but this impact was never brought up," Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla with Restore the Delta said.

Barrigan-Parrilla referred to language in the delta tunnel plan document that the possibility of air pollution during construction being so severe it presented cancer risks to those most vulnerable, like children and the elderly. The document also states the possibility of the state having to pay for the relocation of people impacted.

"This is really fear-mongering at its worst," said Richard Stapler with the California Natural Resources Agency. He said the one thousand number is "false and absurd," adding the document refers to the possibility that one household could be impacted

"If you hear something that really scares you, it's probably not true. Come talk to us, we'll answer your questions," Stapler said.

The twin delta tunnels would carry Sacramento River water past the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta directly to pumps near Tracy. Proponents claim it will help the state finally solve its water needs and issues. Opponents claim it will destroy the delta by removing a large source of fresh water.

Barrigan-Parrilla said if the tunnels are approved by the state, 11 different lawsuits are being prepared to halt any construction.


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