A $25 million federal grant will speed the construction of a solar manufacturing plant in San Diego, in an effort to boost U.S. competitiveness.
Semiconductor maker Soitec Solar, recipient of the Department of Energy grant, will pour the funds into equipment at its Rancho Bernando-area plant. Production is set to start before the end of the year on concentrated photovoltaic modules that use optical lenses to focus sunlight on tiny, highly efficient solar cells.
A publicly traded company based in Bernin, France, Soitec entered the concentrated photovoltaics business in 2009 with the purchase of Concentrix Solar, a spinoff of the Fraunhofer Institutes, a network of publicly funded research centers in Germany.
Soitec received the largest share of $37 million in Energy Department grants designed to accelerate high-volume solar manufacturing over the next two years.
More about Soitec’s CPV (concentrated photovoltaic) modules:
Soitec’s CPV modules are built on Concentrix technology. They use Fresnel lenses to concentrate sunlight 500 times and focus it onto small, highly efficient multi-junction solar cells. This technology has helped us achieve world-leading AC system efficiency increases of 25% in actual operating conditions. This is almost twice as high as the efficiency increases achieved using conventional silicon systems.
More permits were issued in the Houston metro area than in any other metro, by far. Four of the top ten metros were in Texas. But this list is dominated by large metro areas, and we’d expect bigger areas to have more construction activity. Looking instead at the number of permits issued per 1,000 existing housing units…here are the top metro areas by construction activity:
Most Construction Activity (per 1,000 existing units)
When Vin Scully arrived from Brooklyn with the Dodgers for the 1958 season, he found Los Angeles to be lacking a core.
“When I came to Los Angeles, all I knew was that it was like 450 square miles. There was no ‘there.’ I felt Los Angeles did not have a centerpiece.”
The opening of Dodger Stadium in 1962 changed that.
“In a sense, Dodger Stadium put the ‘there’ in Los Angeles,” Scully said. “I believe the stadium helped to reunite this spacious community that extends from here to there.”
The stadium opened exactly 50 years ago Tuesday, and the Hall of Fame broadcaster shared his thoughts and memories of the ballpark in a recent interview:
The now-extinct dugout seats:
“Now, I was told this was absolutely true: Giants-Dodgers game, late in the game, Giants rallying, crowd going bananas, Willie Mays in the on-deck circle and all that stuff, Willie McCovey going to hit in back of him, and Milton Berle, a comedian, is sitting in a dugout seat.
“Now, Mays is going to come up. And as Mays started to walk up to the plate, Berle hollered, ‘Willie!’ Mays looked over and recognized Berle. Berle said, ‘Come here a minute.’ Willie actually started, instinctively, to come over and realized, ‘What am I, crazy? I’m in the middle of a game!’
“Doris Day used to love those seats. She was a sweet lady. You would see her a lot. Cary Grant, when he was married to Dyan Cannon, they would sit in those dugout seats.”
Construction insight from longtime owner Peter O’Malley:
“Mr. O’Malley pointed out an interesting thing that I never thought of. They were building the stadium and he said, ‘The most expensive seats are the cheapest to install. And the cheapest seats are the most expensive to install.’
“He said, ‘The box seat is the most expensive. It’s right on the ground. The cheapest seat is way the hell up there. Just think of all the steel and concrete and everything else you need to put that seat way up there.’ ”
Down the street on Magnolia, just a few blocks form the beach, is the ASCON Landfill Site. This 38-acre parcel of land is a toxic waste dump containing waste from construction and oil drilling.
It is considered a California Superfund site, meaning that it is one of the most toxic in the state. According to the California EPA, the area “operated as a landfill from 1938 through 1984…in its early years came from oil drilling operations, including waste drilling muds, waste water brines, and other drilling wastes.
“From 1957 to 1971, chromic acid, sulfuric acid, aluminum slag, fuel oils, styrene (a form of plastic), and other wastes were also disposed on the site. These liquid and semi-liquid wastes were deposited into open lagoons and pits.”
“From 1971 to 1984, some of the lagoons and pits were filled in or covered with solid waste materials (construction debris).”
This news has to be shocking for anyone living in Huntington Beach. Lagoons of sludge 25-feet deep, drilling wastes, pits of slag/acid/oils/sytrene, and then covered over with more waste.
Consider that across the street is Edison High School where thousands of kids, teachers, and parents spend their days, and on the other sides are houses and a popular park, Edison Community Park (another former landfill with methane gas leaks).
The news doesn’t get better.
An investigative report from the OC Weekly in 2004 discusses four children from the area who contracted a rare form of brain cancer.
“Something may be seriously amiss in southeast Huntington Beach…four children from that area died between February 2000 and June 2003 of a deadly brain cancer called brainstem glioma…an exceedingly rare cancer.”
“We know that a cluster of cancers in one geographic area doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something in the immediate environment that caused it…We also know that it is impossible to gather meaningful statistics with only four cases. The causes of most childhood brain tumors, including brainstem gliomas, are unknown. But we do know that exposure to certain chemicals can cause cancer.”
“It seems suspicious to us that four children who lived and played near this toxic waste dump contracted an extremely rare cancer. At the Ascon site, an oil worker became ill after contacting water running off the site. Ground squirrels living on the site appear, from the condition of their coats, to be in poor health…CalEPA recently found a 50-year-old tank of improperly stored flammable fuels that they didn’t know was there.”
“The objective of IRM is to enable assessment of the materials underneath the tarry waste of Lagoons 1 and 2. These waste materials beneath the tarry liquids are of unknown composition and geotechnical quality and have not been assessed with the tarry liquids present due to worker safety concerns.”
The project was completed in December 2010 after “58,000 tons of tarry materials and firming additive have been removed from Lagoons 1 and 2 at the Site, and transported to and disposed of at the designated disposal facility.”
Since then the city and the contractors have been testing the groundwater, stormwater, air quality, etc, and in March 2011, the project was considered complete.
“This site is named for two companies that tried, in vain, to clean up the site. Nesi acquired an option on the site and tried to pump it clean. That did not work and Nesi folded. An attempt was made by Ascon, an acronym for the asphalt and concrete that had been dumped on the site. Ascon was not successful, either.”
What happens next is unknown.
The government agency responsible for the clean-up will continue its slow progress. Further tests, including investigating the lower levels of Lagoons 1, 2 will be conducted. Then planning, public hearings, and finally another clean-up.
With so much waste on-site this will take decades.
At some point, the land will be clean enough for a private company to complete the process. The land is in such a valuable location that many developers will gladly take on the last steps of cleaning to reap the profits.
In the meantime, we all are stuck with a remnant of our industrial past.