SULPHUR MOUNTAIN : Agency Will Study Concerns on Tower

Officials with the Department of Commerce have agreed to consider a list of concerns raised by U. S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) regarding the National Weather Service's radar tower on Sulphur Mountain.

Boxer and other elected officials have urged the agency, which oversees the weather service, to re-examine the placement of the radar tower.

Opponents of the radar, which will monitor approaching storms, fear that it could pose health risks and are angry that they weren't notified that it would be built in their community.

But a federal judge has ruled that adequate health studies were conducted and that the government's action in erecting the tower was not capricious.

During a 45-minute telephone conference call Monday, Deputy Secretary of Commerce David Barram, National Weather Service Director Joe Friday and two representatives from Boxer's office discussed the residents' concerns, said Boxer's chief of staff, Sam Chapman.

"I conveyed the senator's strong feeling that the tower is not there legitimately," he said. "They agreed to look at the senator's concerns before we discuss specific action."

The officials agreed to return in about a week with a response, he said.

Lori Arguelles, a spokeswoman for the weather service, said: "It was a dialogue that had not been established before. We'll have some answers and we'll just have to take it from there."

At a meeting with about 50 Ojai residents Friday, Boxer said she found the government's installation of the tower during the Thanksgiving holiday last fall "sneaky."

Neither Arguelles nor Chapman would say what action might come out of the discussions.

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