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Bouquet Canyon residents wary of lines proposal

first_img“When people fight wildland fires, they usually attempt to make their stand on a ridge top,” she said. The existing transmission towers along the ridge are up to 60 feet tall, while the new towers to be installed in the Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project would stand up to 178 feet. In arguing against the proposed midslope line, Bouquet Canyon residents point to an environmental report done for the project that gauges risk from a wildfire. They prefer the new lines run the same path as the existing ones. “If the wildfire were burning east … there would be no ground suppression tactic between the mid-slope fire and the structures (cabins) located in Bouquet Canyon,” the report states. Because smoke from a wildfire can cause electricity to arc from a high-power transmission line, it would have to be shut off before firefighters could move in. But parts of the proposed transmission line are less than a half-mile from Bouquet Canyon Road, where there are more than 100 cabins. The report states that in high winds, a fast-moving fire could reach the road before the line could be shut off. Kadota said a fire is unlikely to start in the remote mid-slope area where the transmission line would go, unless lightning struck. But cabin owners are still worried by the proposed alignment. “It would devalue the cabins, devalue the private property,” said cabin owner Linda Love. “The safety risk is significant.” Because it is within the forest, Love is restricted to living in her 80-year-old recreational cabin part-time, like other cabin residents in the canyon. She shares a quiet dirt lane with other cabin owners, amid oak trees and fallen leaves, with a bubbling creek as her front yard. Cabin owners feel that they have been overlooked in the planning for the power corridor, and they point to a planning map that failed to show their presence, even though it showed other things such as an old campground. The power project is a Southern California Edison initiative. The wind-generated power that the 500-kilovolt line would carry will come from the Tehachapi Mountains, and the project will increase Southern California’s share of renewable energy. Residents of Agua Dulce and Leona Valley opposed an alignment that would have put the transmission lines through their communities, instead of through the forest. Earlier this year, the California Public Unities Commission voted to put the line through the sparsely populated forest, instead of the two neighboring communities. Authorities have studied whether putting the transmission lines on the east side of the reservoir would get in the way of firefighting aircraft, coming in low to land in the water and tank up. In a letter to Southern California Edison, the county Fire Department said the lines would not get in the way of aircraft. But the Fire Department asked that big spheres be placed on the lines so that pilots could clearly see them. Howell, who works in advertising, said he does not like that, as he looked down at the reservoir from a ridge on his ranch. “It’s going to span both roads over to this knoll on the right,” he said. “They’re going to go right across there and put up their towers and their lines and their big orange balls.” After the Forest Service makes its decision next month on the transmission line alignment, the project could start in the late fall. Barring an appeal of the Forest Service decision, construction could take 14 months. alex.dobuzinskis@dailynews.com (661) 257-5253160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST – At the edge of a water reservoir dotted with tiny islands, the canyon floor is green and natural – while in the distance transmission lines run along a high ridge. The view is pristine from Ron Howell’s 250-acre ranch in the Angeles National Forest. At least the view to the west is, because to the north he has a power transmission line with an audible buzz. Now, a new transmission line is proposed for the picturesque western edge of his property, on his side of the reservoir instead of on the other side, where a transmission line now runs. Howell is worried about being nearly penned in by transmission lines at his ranch home. Just southwest in Bouquet Canyon, cabin owners fear that the line would run too close to their own properties, and could expose them to fire risk. The transmission line is one segment of a $1.8 billion project to bring wind power into Southern California. For Howell, the project is too close to home. “It’s horrible,” he said. “We’ve put our life savings into restoring this ranch.” The U.S. Forest Service next month is expected to make a decision on the alignment of the transmission line – called the Antelope-Pardee Transmission Project – in the Angeles National Forest. One factor the agency is considering is that if it puts the new power corridor midslope, nearer the cabins and on Howell’s side of the reservoir, it could tear down the existing transmission lines along the ridge above the cabins, said Marian Kadota, project manager for the Forest Service. Eliminating the ridge-line power lines, which are a dangerous obstruction when flames are lapping nearby, could help firefighters suppress wildfires, Kadota said. last_img read more

WHO ponders treating Ebola-infected people with blood of survivors

first_imgAs the Ebola outbreaks rages on in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO), desperate for a way to help infected people, is reconsidering a potential Ebola treatment tried as far back as 1976, after the first documented outbreak of the deadly viral disease: using the blood of people who have recovered from an infection to treat those still fighting the virus. “Convalescent serum is high on our list of potential therapies and has been used in other outbreaks (eg in China during SARS),” WHO said in a written statement to ScienceInsider. “There is a long history of its use, so lots of experience of what needs to be done, what norms and standards need to be met.”There are not yet official plans to administer convalescent serum to ill people, but WHO said it will assess if the treatment approach was “safe and feasible” and was already working with officials in Ebola-affected areas to strengthen the blood-banking systems there. These moves come as researchers debate the mixed results of past uses of convalescent serum. “The jury is still out” on the approach, says Daniel Bausch, an Ebola expert at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Nonetheless, he and others believe the therapy should be explored. “I feel we have a moral imperative to push forward with all the scientifically plausible modalities,” Bausch says.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The Ebola virus has sickened at least 2127 people and killed 1145 of them in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and Nigeria. Those numbers may “vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak,” WHO warned on Thursday. It is already the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded, and the unprecedented number of deaths has led to calls to try out experimental therapies that are in the early stages of development. On Tuesday, an ethics committee at WHO declared it was ethical under the special circumstance to use unapproved Ebola treatments such as ZMapp, a mix of antibodies that has been tested in animals and was given to two U.S. health care workers who fell sick in Liberia. Other experts are advocating the use of drugs that are approved to treat other diseases but may help Ebola patients, too. And Nigeria is reportedly exploring a controversial treatment called Nano Silver.As for using convalescent serum to treat patients, it is an attractive option for a number of reasons, Bausch says. Getting blood transfusions has become commonplace; no approval from agencies such as the U.S. Food or Drug Administration or European Medicines Agency is needed, and in the affected countries in West Africa many people have survived Ebola, meaning there can be a ready supply of the serum. In fact, the therapy has already been tried in the current outbreak. One of the two U.S. health care workers who was treated with ZMapp, Kent Brantly, earlier received a blood transfusion from a 14-year-old boy he had cared for and who had survived Ebola.But like the other treatments under discussion, it is far from proven that convalescent serum will help Ebola patients. The idea is simple: Because survivors have usually developed antibodies to fight the virus, transferring their blood could help patients. In the past, the strategy was used to treat people with SARS and Lassa fever, a viral hemorrhagic fever, like Ebola. David Heymann, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a former executive director of communicable diseases at WHO, says that the therapy’s use in 1976 was encouraging. Heymann, who was part of a team investigating the outbreak in Zaire, stayed behind for 2.5 months collecting a unit of blood every week from survivors, he says. The outbreak ended before the serum could be used in Africa, but some of it was given later that same year to a researcher in the United Kingdom who accidentally pricked infected himself while transferring blood from a guinea pig infected with Ebola. He survived. “The blood was stored in South Africa and at the CDC in Atlanta, but I don’t know what happened to it,” Heymann says.  Convalescent serum was tried again in 1995 in an Ebola outbreak in Kikwit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Doctors at the Kikwit General Hospital treated eight Ebola patients with blood donated by five people who had survived their infections. Seven of those receiving the serum also survived. A later reanalysis, however, concluded that the patients had survived their infection long enough before receiving the serum that they likely would have recovered without it. And a study in rhesus macaques, published in 2007, found no benefit from transferring blood of convalescent monkeys. “There are many variables and the quality of the immune blood or serum may vary widely from person to person,” says Thomas Geisbert, a researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and one of the authors of that study.The WHO filovirus clinical working group, convened in response to the current outbreak, discussed the evidence on convalescents’ serum at a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, at the end of July, says Bausch, who is part of the group. A plan was proposed to fly blood of Ebola survivors to the United States and have Geisbert or Heinz Feldmann, a researcher at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases , try the therapy in nonhuman primates, Bausch says. But Geisbert, in an e-mail, notes that there are “no current plans to test this in nonhuman primates” and there has been “no official request from any agency” though he and Heinz “are both willing and ready to do whatever is needed to support the outbreak response.” Tom Solomon, director of the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Research Unit in Emerging Infections based at the University of Liverpool, says he is also considering a trial of the therapy in humans. “We are in discussions with WHO and an international group of partners to develop a trial and are looking at both convalescent plasma and novel therapeutics,” he says. If serum is tested on humans, it should be checked in advance that it can neutralize the virus, says Stephan Günther, a virologist at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, who is now in Nigeria. “Otherwise, you don’t need to give the serum.” Neutralization could be measured in cell culture with real virus or a recombinant vaccine virus expressing the Ebola virus surface protein, Günther says.Even if the therapy works, there are challenges. One is the risk of infecting patients with other pathogens such as HIV or hepatitis C. Getting blood from recovered patients in the first place may also be a problem, Bausch says. “Blood is an entity that people pay a lot of attention to in West Africa. When people feel like they are losing blood that is an important and bad thing,” he says. Still, trying the therapy in nonhuman primates and then implementing it in the affected countries in West Africa makes sense, Bausch says. “It’s gonna be messy, it’s gonna be difficult to do, but at some point we’ll just have to try to plunge in and move forward.” Robert Colebunders, an infectious disease clinician at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, who was involved in treating Ebola patients in the 1995 outbreak, says if there are survivors willing to donate blood, doctors should try the therapy. “And then they need to follow it up scientifically, so we learn something from it.”Still, WHO warned today in a statement, the focus on untested therapies is “creating some unrealistic expectations. … The public needs to understand that these medical products are under investigation. They have not yet been tested in humans and are not approved by regulatory authorities, beyond use for compassionate care.”Focus on the therapies is also distracting from what really needs to be done, says Steven Riley, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Imperial College London. “We don’t need to export drugs. We need to export gold-standard public health processes,” he says. Infectious disease experts agree that tracing those who have been in contact with an infected person and isolating them is the key to containing the deadly virus.*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.last_img read more