Jan Vandersloot, the Huntington Beach dermatologist and environmental activitist, was found dead in his home, the Los Angeles Times reported in print today. (The paper broke the sad news on Nov. 9 here. I never met Vandersloot, but I interviewed him a few years ago when Poseidon Resources, Inc. came to town hoping to create a desalination plant there. The proposal irked a lot of environmentalists including Vandersloot because it would suck a lot of marine life out of the water, and dump concentrated salt water back into the ocean. Not only that, but the plant was going to be attached to what has to be the ugliest beachside building between Tijuana and Juneau, Alaska: the aging AES Generating Station.
Vandersloot, 64, was a founder of both the Bolsa Chica Land Trust, which fought to preserve the wetlands and the Ocean Outfall Group, which opposed offshore wastewater dumping. He was also one of the most outspoken critics of the Poseidon venture. Here's what he told me in a 2003 article:
"Vandersloot opposes the Poseidon project but at the very least hopes city officials will require the desalination plant to pump its wastewater through the Orange County Sanitation District's (OCSD) nearby water-treatment facility. OCSD's wastewater pipe runs nearly five miles offshore to a depth of 200 feet. When it reaches the surface, OCSD wastewater clocks a water-to-bacteria ratio of 180,000:1.
Vandersloot has written letters urging the Huntington Beach Planning Commission to consider the CEC study, the results of which were ignored in Poseidon's draft environmental-impact report. "It would be a very poor decision to locate the Poseidon plant at that location because the AES plant is a dinosaur," he said. "It uses old technology, and it is a dirty plant. It has a lot of bacteria within the plant and is pushing it out to sea, close to shore. It is not being regulated or treated."
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You can read the entire article here. Not too long after that story ran, the project fell apart, and it's hard not to think Vandersloot played an important role in what happened. There are still efforts to bring the project back to life, and a lot of other important battles continue over the future of Orange County's dwindling natural environment. Our condolences go out to his family and friends, with hope his legacy will be remembered and serve as inspiration to others.