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Wildfire Risk Elevated With Wave Of Hot Santa Ana Winds And More Local News

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The National Weather Service in San Diego has issued a red flag warning that lasts until Friday evening. Officials warn weather conditions create an elevated risk of wildfires. Plus, the military is testing a new system to identify drones. Hear how the military is designing this new tool. And, it’s the one-year anniversary of the first Central American migrant caravan. Also, Imperial Valley officials have declared a state of emergency for the Salton Sea, due to long-term erosion.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 It's Wednesday, October 23rd I'm Priya Schreder and you're listening to San Diego news matters from KPBS coming up. The national weather service in San Diego has issued a red flag warning that lasts until Friday evening and more than a decade ago, calls to clean up a giant pile of toxic waste along the Colorado river. Reached a fever pitch. It makes a difference to the community whether you have very hazardous waste. That and more San Diego news stories coming up. Thank you for joining us for San Diego news matters. I'm Prius. Sure. Either San Diego County. We'll get a taste of windy desert heat this week. KPBS reporter Eric Anderson says a moderate Santa Ana will raise the fire. Right.

Speaker 2: 00:46 National weather service officials say temperatures will peak in the mid nineties and low hundreds in the mountains, valleys in desert regions. Over the next few days, the fire danger is expected to climb with the temperature and wind speeds. Alex tardy works for the national weather service in San Diego. He says, Santa Ana wind conditions can make wildfires uncontrollable.

Speaker 3: 01:07 You get embers and sparks and flames that are moving away from the fire into new fuel into new brush, and you're basically chasing something. You're chasing a moving target and it's not only dangerous, sometimes it's impossible to control

Speaker 2: 01:22 both of San Diego county's largest firestorms. The Cedar fire in 2003 and the witch fire in 2007 began during Santa Ana wind events at the end of October. Eric Anderson, K PBS news.

Speaker 1: 01:36 It's been one year since the first highly visible caravan of migrants left central America for the Southwest border and Tijuana. Many people didn't complete the journey and many who did have already been sent back. George Valencia has more from KJ zzz Fronterra Spiro in Mexico city.

Speaker 4: 01:53 That first caravan changed the discourse over migration. People have been leaving central America for decades, but this was the first time a river of thousands could be seeing marching northbound Mexico vacillated between welcoming them and sending armed military police to confront them. Ultimately, destitute migrants have become a bargaining chip for economic negotiations with the U S Jesse, can I HEDA a is a demographer with the colonial in Mexico. I think Mexico has given too little importance to migration. I hit us as some 250,000 migrants entered Mexico last year. Many are now living in precarious conditions along Mexico, Southern and Northern borders in Mexico city. I am CORHIO Valencia.

Speaker 1: 02:38 The people who keep electricity flowing through most of California's power lines say they've upgraded their system and that should help the state avoid blackouts during future heat waves. Cap radios, Randall white explains

Speaker 4: 02:50 when temperature is sore. Californians often push the limits on the state's ability to access electricity. The California independent system or Cal ISO

Speaker 5: 03:00 maintains the power grid for 80% of the state and some of Nevada to evaluating the energy supply and demand for at least 30 million people every second of the day. Those managers plan for heatwaves but have been using technology purchased 20 years ago that was discontinued. This month a new energy management system was installed, which Cal ISO says is the most advanced in the world that Doris Donovan is vice president of technology. He says, Cal ISO will now be far more flexible.

Speaker 6: 03:31 We will see all these scenarios that the candidate resolved from that heat way in advance and be able to prepare in advance whatever controls we have to deal with that. When it comes.

Speaker 5: 03:42 Rostropovich says California is unique in the world for its size and the amount of renewable energy sources it has to juggle. So its new system was custom made by Siemens. He says it's cost is confidential. Cal ISO is a nonprofit public benefit corporation funded by its member utilities, the three largest in the state in Sacramento. I'm Randall white

Speaker 1: 04:04 this weekend the sky's over San Diego. The military will test a new system to hunt down drones. KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh got an early look at aerial Dragnet.

Speaker 7: 04:14 Tuesday. The defense advanced research project or DARPA kicked off the first test in an urban area for a new system designed to attract small commercial drones. Caitlyn McCauley is with the San Diego regional economic development corporation. The city is coordinating with DARPA this week. She sees the potential commercial application

Speaker 8: 04:32 because drones are becoming ever increasingly popular. We really do have to think about them. Coming into our airspace is a fairly regular occurrence and that being the case, having proving ground here in San Diego actually offers us an advantage.

Speaker 7: 04:46 The system is only experimental this week. Teams in San Diego at Naval base San Diego and in national city are using drones and an Aereo stat balloon to try to locate and track groups of drones flying near buildings. The test goes through Friday. Steve Walsh, KPBS news

Speaker 1: 05:03 communities throughout the American West have spent decades cleaning up what the mining industry leaves behind in Moab, Utah. Those leftovers are uranium tailings left alongside on the banks of arguably the region's most important water source. The Colorado river cleanup efforts there hit a new milestone recently from KZ M U in Moab. Molly Marcello has more. There's a crowd gathered at a local park nestled in a red rock Canyon where the state highway into Moab crosses the Colorado river. Elected officials and community members are here to celebrate a recent milestone, the removal of 10 million tons of toxic uranium tailings from the banks of the Colorado river there mingling, enjoying refreshments, and eating yellow cake. A facetious not to the party's purpose. You never would have thought you would have all these people congratulating in the community of moving 10 million tons. Sarah Fields is executive director of the nonprofit uranium watch and they seem to be really dedicated to getting this done.

Speaker 1: 06:10 Fields as group advocates for the protection of public health and the environment from the impacts of uranium mining. She and many others gathered here have a long history with this project. The Moab uranium mill tailings remedial action site, better known to locals simply as the Moab pile is a leftover from the town's cold war. Uranium days when the towns uranium boom went bust. In the early 1980s a 16 million ton scar of toxic tailings was left sitting next to the river just downstream from arches national park. It makes a difference to the community. Whether you have very hazardous waste sitting on the flood floodplain of a major river makes a big difference. It's not going to be there. Before cleanup efforts began. Elevated levels of uranium and ammonia were showing up in the rivers water near Moab, but contamination was alarming to officials downstream in Nevada and California and they called for the department of energy to step in.

Speaker 1: 07:08 Field says getting the pile out of the flood plain became a community rallying cry as well. The DOE pretty much from the beginning realized that if they decided to leave it in place, they would be standing alone because the town, the city, most of the members of the, the community, the state, the EPA all said move. The pile. Workers began moving that pile 10 years ago. The tailings are carefully loaded into train cars and sent 30 miles North where they're stored away from the river in the middle of the desert with the 10 million ton moved over, 62% of the pile is gone, which means many Moabites could see completion in their lifetimes. We have a huge flood that's not good. Mary McGann is on the grand County council. It's an environmental hazard and we need to remove it from the banks of the Colorado river. Since cleanup began.

Speaker 1: 08:05 The site has partially flooded a couple times with no documented contamination. Still McGahn and other local elected officials have year after year lobbied the DOE to allocate more funding to the project. Unlike some cleanup sites under the office of environmental management, officials save the completion of the Mohad project is within reach, perhaps just over a decade away. Sarah, thank you. During her remarks at the celebration, McGann described growing up in Moab in the 1950s and sixties when grand County fully embraced the uranium industry. Every summer we celebrated uranium day began his own father, was the superintendent of the uranium mill responsible for creating the Moab Pyle began says at the time most people in Moab were largely unaware of the health and environmental hazards of the uranium industry, and it was not long before my dad passed away. He was getting word that this was not safe. McGann even recalls her dad coming home with a Geiger counter and weaving it through the rooms of their house, feeling remorse, that heat exposed the whole family. So I think you realizes that without malice, they had made a mistake. When you make a mistake, you fix it, and that's what we're doing. Although her father helped build the pile, McGahn told attendees that she, along with the help of many others, will continue tearing it down. I'm Molly Marcello in Moab, Utah.

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San Diego News Matters

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.