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As Governor Herbert hopes we will drive less and not use aerosol hairspray, little or no mention is made of these three behemoths befouling Salt Lake City/County.

The air so so toxic here, Salt Lake City has made national and even international news.  Here's the title of a recent local headline:

Utah's air may be killing you

This air.  Here is a picture taken by NASA on January 23, 2013.  Imagine your children having to walk to and from school in this toxic soup.

Salt Lake City Air Pollution, NASA, Jan 23, 2013

Levels of particulate pollution rose above 130 micrograms per cubic meter in Salt Lake City on January 23, 2013.  That’s three times the federal clean-air limit, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Salt Lake has suffered this unhealthy pollution for almost the entire month of January this year.  Click and read the daily reports from Wasatch Weather Weenies, written by Jim Steenburgh, a University of Utah professor and an expert on Western meteorology for a day by day description.

Jim reports this shocking tidbit.  There is only ONE REAL-TIME AIR QUALITY SENSOR in Salt Lake County and one each for the other counties.  ONE!? This is beyond irresponsible, imo.  What if there were a truly life-threatening event in a particular area?  Good Grief, Utah!  Stop doing important science on the cheap!  Here's an idea.  Make the polluters pay for more Real-time air quality sensors.  Do Utah's Legislators have children and/or grandchildren living here?

Professor Steenburgh writes:

Although there are more sensors collecting data for retrospective analysis, we have a desperate need for more real-time air quality sensors along the Wasatch Front.  We have access to only one sensor in each county.  For comparison, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency provides hourly real-time data from 16 sites, including 8 in the Seattle area.

And, yes, this is an inversion bowl just like Denver.  Denver cleaned up their air.  But with the huge companies behind our refineries, copper mine, and sand pit I don't think we have a prayer, even if we all stopped driving which we can't because public transportation is seriously lacking for most people.

It is BECAUSE Salt Lake County is an inversion bowl that the THREE POLLUTING BEHEMOTHS shouldn't be located and/or operating here, imo!

And 2 of the biggest contributors are and hope to continue expanding.

Rio Tinto to spend $660M on Utah copper mine

Utah refinery growth promises jobs, revenue, but at what cost?

Ask people arriving in Salt Lake what they smell.  Many will say this place smells like fuel.  We residents are just used to the smell and, like your own perfume,  can't smell it anymore.

Below the orange squiggle are pictures of the Polluting Behemoths rarely mentioned in the news or by the Governor:

Today is the first day in weeks I have felt energetic enough to sit up and use my desktop instead of lounging with my iPad.  Why have I felt so sick and weak this entire month?  It's the dirty air, I am sure.

And much to my dismay for myself, babies, kids with asthma, and fellow elders, business friendly Utah is about to make matters much, much worse in pursuit of the $$ to be made extracting thousands of new fracking wells and tar sands.  <==  Read this link for the gruesome details of what this will mean.  And then refining the tar sand oil near Salt Lake City.

The article praises "business friendly" Utah:

Despite these challenges, industry analyst and financial writer Bret Jensen, based in Miami, said , "I still like Newfield. They are moving more to oil and liquid production, and Utah is an extremely friendly business state. There’s always been mining and [agriculture], and now throw in oil in a state that’s conducive to furthering those businesses, that’s a huge plus."

There are five oil refineries located in the North Salt Lake City area listed on befouling our air according to Wikipedia. However, if you look closely on Google Earth there may be more than 5.  I have tagged a couple of locations "Looks like a refinery" on this Google Earth snapshop.  Note the proximity to Salt Lake City and other densely populated areas:

Oil Refineries near Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake Refineries

See page 4 for map of bitumen refineries in the US.  These are the Salt Lake bitumen refineries found on the map.

4 Utah Refineries Processing Tar Sands Oil

Bitumen explodes.  Refineries explode.  Bitumen refineries are high risk for explosions.  Explosions cause even higher toxic releases, putting people at greater health risks.  Utah's refineries explode all the time!

Utah's Unstable Oil Refineries

In the past 10 years, Utah’s five refineries themselves have reported fires, explosions, chemical releases and spills, both large and small, on average once every nine days
All five of Salt Lake's oil refineries are expanding and are already refining bitumen.  The expansions of production to these refineries will help process the bitumen from Utah's new tar sands production.

35,000 acres of tar sands, in addition to the thousands of wells mentioned in the article above are about to be developed.  Tar sands produce Bitumen which has the consistency of peanut butter and can't be piped without lots of chemical additives.

How can anyone believe that the Utah Government cares about our health?  Our property values?  Our babies, toddlers, and children (most of whom have to walk to and from school)?

Look at the housing development built adjacent to the exploding Holly Refinery:

Holly Refinery, near Salt Lake City and Housing Development - Woods Cross, Utah

So, I think the refineries pollution is affecting my health.


But maybe it's the giant Rio Tinto Copper mine that is causing me health problems.  I live closer to this than the refineries.  It's huge, and my town water now comes from a 100 year old mine sludge that Rio Tinto, the new mine owner, puts through their reverse osmosis system and sells to us.  I don't drink or even cook with this water.  I'm not even comfortable growing food watered by this water.  Our arsenic levels and the long list of other contaminents are below EPA standards, or so we are told. (Ok, that was a frustrated aside)

Here's a picture of  Rio Tinto's Kennecott Copper mine situated on the west border of Salt Lake Valley.

Rio Tinto Copper Mine, West of Salt Lake City, Utah - 6 miles x 3.59 miles, 150 years old

According to Google Earth's measurements, this Rio Tinto's Kennecott Copper Mine is approximately 6 miles x 3.59 miles or 18 square miles!  One 2.5 mile area is a half mile deep.  

It is half-mile deep and 2 1/2 miles wide and if it were a stadium it could seat 9 million people, so deep that you could put two Sears Towers on top of each other.
The mine is still going strong.  
Kennecott extracts about a 250,000 TONS OF ROCK out of the pit EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR or 91 MILLION TONS OF ROCK PER YEAR, so this is one attraction that keeps getting bigger.  By 2015 the will be 600 ft. deeper.  
Even with the expansion, the mine is projected to produce 180,000

At night you can see giant flood lights on top of the pit, which makes me wonder if they are digging 24/7.  I wouldn't be surprised:

(2010) environmental groups accused Kennecott Utah Copper LLC of violating production limits designed to prevent dust and other particle pollution at the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, the world's largest open-pit copper mine (Greenwire, Dec. 20, 2011).

The debate, proposed rule and litigation showcase the increased focus on mining pollution affecting the air and not just water and soil.

You can read about this state-sanctioned environmental pariah here:  The danger down below: Cancer cluster raises questions about legacy of toxic waste in Utah soil

You see, in Utah it looks like EPA doesn't work very well.  Huge housing developments have since been built on the contaminated mining soils on the west side of Salt Lake Valley.  The mining company owns the land and business-friendly Utah lets them build thousands of new homes over the past decade.  The housing boom seems to have re-ignited as hundreds of new homes are AGAIN being built.


This is the craziest project I have ever seen.  Practically all of Utah is made of sand, but these people choose to excavate in the middle of the population.  And the State/County/Towns let thousands of NEW homes be built adjacent to this behemoth sand pit!  This was a tiny operation a decade ago, but has simply boomed with no end in sight.

4 Sq Mile Sand Pit, Salt Lake City, Utah

Sand Excavation, Concrete Site, South Salt Lake County, Utah

I have completely lost faith in Utah Government which has been gerrymandered into a permanent GOP controlled rule.  I have lost all faith in EPA's role in Utah.  The pollution will only get worse.

There are huge plans for more housing to be built by Rio Tinto that could double the population of the Salt Lake County.  This will increase the pollution from cars, etc.

The mine has applied for expansion.

The additional spending at the Bingham Canyon mine will allow average annual production of 180,000 metric tons of copper, 185,000 ounces of gold and 13,800 tons of molybdenum from 2019 to 2029, Rio Tinto. (or 1/10th per year, so the yield is approximately 18,000 metric tons of copper, 18 metric tons of gold, and 1,390 tons of molybdenum yields for approximately 91,250,000 millions tons of crushed rock per year?  Where does all the remaining rock go? insertion mine)

The plan calls for Kennecott to "push back" the south wall of its mine by about 1,000 feet so miners can deepen the massive pit by another 300 feet and reach an additional 700 million tons of copper ore.

Absent the expansion, the company said it would have to begin winding down operations starting in 2016 and gradually lay off its roughly 2,400 workers as the end of copper production approached in 2021.

The refineries are applying for expansion.

Thousands of new fracking wells and that DISGUSTING TAR SANDS PROJECT are about to launch in eastern Utah, to be shipped to Salt Lake for refining.

Many adjacent counties have unacceptable air quality NOW.  The Uinta basin to the east, where all the fracking wells have been booming, also has unhealthy

Uintah Basin ozone problem triggers lawsuit against EPA

The suit, filed Friday by Earthjustice on behalf of WildEarth Guardians, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, challenges the EPA’s failure to declare that the Uintah Basin is violating federal health standards that limit concentrations of ground-level ozone in the air.
And the Governor hopes we will drive less and use less aerosol hair spray.   I'm all for these two ideas; however, I look forward to the Governor and the media including the three polluting behemoths above as well.

I have not heard a word about the THREE BIG POLLUTERS SURROUNDING SALT LAKE CITY and Salt Lake Valley.  No one seems to want to include these wealthy, huge corporations in the discussion:

Again:  On the North border, there are 5 Refineries,  hoping to expand and to refine Utah's new tar sand disaster-in-the-making oil.

There's an 18 square mile, 100 year old, 1/2 mile deep, 92,250,000 million tons of rock extracted peryear, expanding copper mine on the west border; and

A 4 square mile, expanding sand pit on the south border


Only 100 people showed up to protest at the Governor's recent energy summit!  Why aren't more people protesting about Salt Lake City's poisonous air?

Oh, and having a Delta-hub, International Airport only four miles to the west of Salt Lake might be contributing to the pollution.  Do hundreds of jets flying directly over Salt Lake Valley, day in and day out, contribute to particluate pollution?


May I suggest at least writing to Governor Herbert?

Utah Governor's Office

Utah State Capitol Complex
350 North State Street, Suite 200
PO Box 142220
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2220

PHONE: 801-538-1000
TOLL FREE: 800-705-2464

Maybe some people from elsewhere can help?  Do you enjoy skiing here?  Do you attend the Sundance Film Festival?  Please write to our Governor and ask him to clean up the air!

Again, people arriving tell us that Salt Lake City smells like fuel, so what part do the refineries play?  Maybe the copper mine and sand pit particulates are odorless.

Thank you!

Your Email has been sent.
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

    by War on Error on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:53:57 AM PST

  •  To show up to a meeting, you (3+ / 0-)

    need to be able to walk. When you are laying on the road, coughing up blood from the air you breathe, it is hard to make it to meetings.

    What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

    by agnostic on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:05:04 PM PST

    •  I was too sick to attend the Energy Summit (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      agnostic, jlms qkw, Tinfoil Hat

      Finally feeling better the last couple of days because the air has cleaned up some.  It's litterally affecting my blood pressure, I think.  Something is, that's for sure.

      Utah legislators seem determined to trash this State.   Actually, North Dakota and oher states also seem determined.  I can't believe how many fracking wells are on the banks of the Missouri River in N Dakota, and the Green River in Wyoming and Utah.  Very short sighted.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:12:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  About 10 yrs ago, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        War on Error, jlms qkw

        I moved from within the City limits (that wee speck of a town on the lake, called Chicago) to das suden suburbs on the southwest corner of Cook County. Our area is surrounded by forests and natural lakes, wild life, etc. The air quality change is unbelievable, especially midsummer.

        I can only imagine your situation.

        What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

        by agnostic on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:27:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  poor green river (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        War on Error

        that'll really piss off the folks in the central valley and LA, if the green is contaminated . . .

        Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

        by jlms qkw on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:05:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It should. The potential devastation of (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jlms qkw, jayden, Tinfoil Hat

          polluting the White and Green rivers, that flow into the Colorado River are huge.

          Pics worth 1,000s of words.  Check these out.  There are thousands of well heads in Utah.  Each well head can shoot off several horizonal drilling lines.

          Each white dot you see is a well head or fracking pad

          Fracking Wells, Utah Near Green & White Rivers

          Fracking requires millions of gallons of water for EACH well.  Where are they getting all that water?  And where does the contaminated water go?

          Here's what looks like a water repository on the banks of the Green River

          On the Banks of the Green River, Utah

          And here's some wells IN a Green River Offshoot river, not named on Google Earth

          Wells IN a Utah River

          I don't think people in Utah have any idea what is happening in this state re: fracking.  It's huge, and a few thousand new wells were just approved.

          The plan allows a maximum of 1,298 wells that will be drilled from no more than 575 well pads. Surface disturbance has been reduced by one-half to 3,600 acres, or about two percent of the total development area of 206,826 acres

          It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

          by War on Error on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:49:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Check this out (7+ / 0-)

    This comes from a powerful editorial in the SL Tribune by a physician living in the area.

    The more I investigate, the worse the situation appears. This is a public health emergency, but we don’t seem to be treating it as such.

    Even on the local news a reporter doing a story on the inversion stated that "doctors don’t think this will cause lasting health effects." This could not be further from the truth.

    The American Lung Association gives Salt Lake City a rating of F for our spikes in particulate pollution. Breathing this type of pollution causes inflammation in the lining of your blood vessels, which in turn leads to a greater chance of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes and death. And the effects are not temporary.

    This is not about "sick" people coughing a little more for a month in the winter. This affects every single person who inhales in this state every day. It is not an exaggeration to say that decades of exposure to this level of toxic air can shorten your life by years.

    Air pollution has also been linked to miscarriages, birth defects, lower IQ, asthma and cancer. Does this sound like an emergency yet?

    Be radical in your compassion.

    by DWG on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:07:08 PM PST

    •  Thank you! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DWG, jlms qkw, jayden

      This might explain my out-of-the-blue spike in blood pressure, which was perfectly fine until this last month of deathly air pollution.  I am 65.

      Breathing this type of pollution causes inflammation in the lining of your blood vessels, which in turn leads to a greater chance of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes and death.
      I called my Doctore (haven't seen him for two years, that healthy), and his nurse called in a prescription for 20 mg Lisinopril, a very dangerous drug.  I asked if the horrible air coule be a culprit and he said NO.  I asked if I could try Atenolol, which both my parents took in their later years.  He said NO

      AND HE DIDN'T EVEN ASK TO SEE ME.  Told me to take 20 mgs/day of Lisiniprol for three weeks and then come in for a visit.  I won't be taking 20 mg Lisinopril.

      I've eliminated caffeine, increased food sourced calcium, bananas, oranges, and beans, no meat, dairy, salt, butter, cholestoral foods, only olive oil.  After a couple of days, I actually got my blood pressure almost under control.  Will add exercise when feeling a bit better.

      I share this to perhaps help others.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:20:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  that must be dr moensch (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the group of physicians for healthy environment has been doing great work on this for us.  

      they got the gov to release the study about 200 people / year dying from the pollution.

      Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

      by jlms qkw on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:06:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Absolutely we don't need this shit here! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error, jlms qkw, jayden

    After all, isn't this exactly what China is for - i.e., for bearing the pollution costs required to maintain the US lifestyle?

  •  After some minimal research (5+ / 0-)

    I figured out that the proper personal respirator for use in Salt Lake City on yellow and red air days that will filter PM2.5 particles with oil aerosols is NIOSH rated R-95, R100 P95 or P100. These are available in disosable models like thisthis but I think I'm going to go get fit tested for the canister type so I can just purchase the appropriate filters. I like this one with the appropriate disposable filters. I think if people started wearing  respirators down town while out side, shopping, around the Capitol etc... it could make a visual impact while doing one thing that will actually offer you some personal protection. But not everyone should wear a respirator so get a fit test and guidance.

    •  Thank you! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlms qkw, ballerina X

      I was looking into respirators after someone mentioned them in a comment in another diary I posted.  Please let me know what you end up with, K?

      It's interesting when you see coverage of China's polluted cities that so many people are wearing face masks.  Now we know why, although I don't think a simple face mask will protect against our high particulates.

      Again, I really appreciate you for providing this information.

      I am taking extra measures to try to deal with my newly spiking blood pressure that leaves me quite exhausted/weak.  Increasing food based calcium foods like kale can help, btw.  Also, beets help cleanse the liver.  

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:02:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually a cheap N-90 or N-95 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        War on Error

        mask , if sealed well protect against particles as small as PM .03, viruses and bacteria. That's what most hospitals use for their environments The particles in our air that are damaging so damaging to the lungs are PM 2.5, much bigger than a virus. It's the oils and solvent aerosols that come with car exhaust and the refinery releases that require the R- or P- respirator filter ratings.

  •  radio west hosted a program on this (4+ / 0-)

    this morning, will repeat at 90.9fm at 7p our time.
    Radio WEst: Utah's Bad Air

    Thursday on RadioWest we’re talking about northern Utah’s perennially poor air quality. While people have no control over the weather and geography that team up to trap nasty air in the valleys, they can influence one very important factor: how much air pollution they put out. So here are some questions: Who’s responsible for our mucky air? What, realistically, can be done about it? And what can we learn from other cities that have cleaned up their air? We want to hear from you, so we hope you’ll join us.


        Tom Wharton is a columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune.
        Judy Fahys writes about nuclear waste, climate change and pollution for the Salt Lake Tribune.
        Dr. Brian Moench is President of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

    the governor has not been to college, came out of the legislature, and is being a dipshit, imho.

    dr. moench talked about the inflammation response that affects ALL of us, including embryos & fetuses & babies . . .

    Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

    by jlms qkw on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:04:09 PM PST

  •  Excellent Diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error, jlms qkw, jayden

    I recently commented that the Intermountain valleys of northern Utah have been regularly cited this winter as having the most polluted air in the country due to inversion trapped pollution.

    The Cache County (Utah) Council signaled that it will stop fighting state and federal regulators and adopt an emissions testing program for vehicles this year. Yes, after years of ignoring the problem, they had to literally be choked into doing something about it. Oh, and by the way, a good portion of these folks are also hardened climate deniers. Strange but true.

    •  I saw that. Hard to believe they resisted (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlms qkw

      emission testing/control for cars.

      Oh, and this is the Family First state.  Right!  The kids are at a great risk.  I would hope this would be enough to get those who don't want to ruffle any feathers out to protest.

      Or, and this is a stretch, get rid of the GOP that has ruled here for decades.

      Insanity definition, Einstein.  Somehow, the abortion issue keeps everyone here voting GOP.  

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:52:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  the feds threatened to step in (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      War on Error, jayden

      so cache county is now agreeing w/ the state plan.

      they should ban wood burning from oct to march, too.  

      Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

      by jlms qkw on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 02:03:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Slightly offtopic, but tangentially related (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error, jlms qkw

    I was wandering around wikipedia one day and stumbled on some articles about the worlds tallest smokestacks. The worlds tallest is in Kazakhstan, but the second tallest is in Ontario.

    Basically, the worlds tallest smokestack is designed to take all of the harmful pollution from the smelting plant at the base of the stack, and vent it high enough up in the air that the pollution gets carried away from the city.

    •  Good point. I think Kennecott/Rio Tinto here (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlms qkw, jayden, credstone, Tinfoil Hat

      is in the running at 4th tallest smokestack.

      From Wikipedia

      The Kennecott Smokestack is the tallest free-standing structure west of the Mississippi River, the fourth tallest smokestack in the world and the thirty-third tallest free-standing structure on earth.

      According to data from the Utah Division of Air Quality, Kennecott, owned by parent company Rio Tinto Corporation, is by far the largest single source of air pollution along the Wasatch Front, emitting 10 times more pollution overall than the next largest industrial source, the Chevron refinery.

      Kennecott self-reports 6,235 pounds of lead emissions a year from its smelter smokestack alone. A potpourri of toxic and deadly heavy metals — lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury — from Kennecott's operations constantly descend upon Salt Lake County.

      Here's the rift, no pun.  The mountains to the east of the 1,200 foot smoke stack,  The Wasatch Front rise abruptly several thousand feet above the valley floors, capable of trapping the Copper Mine's toxic emissions.

      But all you will hear are accolations about Kennecott Copper (really Rio Tinto, now) because the mine pours fortunes into PR that are as ridiculous to watch as the sunny BP ads for the Gulf.

      It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

      by War on Error on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 02:01:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  during the last inversion (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      War on Error, jayden

      some friends and i speculated on a giant straw to push the polluted air up and draw some warm air down . . .


      Ted Kennedy: “The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die…”

      by jlms qkw on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 02:04:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Great minds think alike : )) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jlms qkw

        I have pictured giant ground fans, facing upward and slightly to the east, to blow this crappy air up and out.  I doubt we'd get any thank you notes from our Eastern neighbers though.

        The Gov could at least make Kennecot and the refineries shut down when we have these inversions.  Instead, if you look up you can see floodlights at th top of Kennecott as if they are working 24/7.

        It's difficult to be happy knowing so many suffer. We must unite.

        by War on Error on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 02:21:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  A smoke stack would have to be taller (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      War on Error

      surrounding mountains or the stuff would roll back into the bowl.

  •  This is one of the reasons I moved out of SLC (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    War on Error, jayden, UTvoter

    The inversion was terrible. I didn't want to breathe that air every day.

    Thanks for the diary.

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