The US Navy has been informed by President ClintonÕs (Executive Order 12898), a dialogue committee on federal facilities cleanup, and by the East Bay Conversion and Reinvestment Commission of the need to address environmental justice issues during the cleanup of Alameda NAS. West End Concerned Citizens are monitoring NAS cleanup to ensure that Alamedans receive equal protection under environmental laws, maintain a voice in cleanup decisions, and after years of tolerating NAS pollution, finally receive the environmental justice we deserve.
First People of Color Leadership Summit
October 27, 1991
The President's Executive Order 12898, signed in 1994, directs federal agencies to develop environmental strategies that identify and address disproportionately high exposure and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies and activities on communities of color and low income populations. Strategies must consider greater public participation and improvement of research.
The committee recommends that Environmental Justice strategies incorporated at the local agency and national levels with respect to the cleanup process at federal facilities strive to: a) further define and empower affected communities; b) level the playing field where communities of color and low income communities have had to bear a disproportionate share of environmental and ecological degradation; and c) provide an effective vehicle for historically disenfranchised communities to promote an integrated and sustainable strategy for community development.
The commission's recommendations on Environmental Justice included: performing demographic studies and assessing environmental health risks to disadvantaged communities resulting from present and past activities such as hazardous waste disposal as part of the environmental impact analysis, and communicating results of the studies to stakeholders. The commission recognized that communities, especially disadvantaged communities, have not been seen as equal partners in dialogues and decision making about environmental cleanup and protection and the commission found that environmental regulations have not been formulated and implemented equally. The commissions recognized that the fences around bases have often reinforced the isolation felt by low income communities of color about the base.
Contamination at 23 toxic waste sites led the US EPA to recommend NAS for the Superfund list in 1995. NAS was never added to Superfund because Governor Wilson would not concur with the US EPAÕs determination.
FEDERAL FACILITIES RESTORATION
At non-Superfund facilities a Federal Facilities Site Restoration Agreement (FFSRA) is signed to clarify legal responsibilities for cleanup. Negotiations between NAS and the State of California have failed to produce a mutually acceptable FFSRA agreement for NAS. As a result there are no legal requirements currently governing contamination cleanup at NAS.
RESOURCE CONSERVATION AND RECOVERY ACT (RCRA)
NAS has RCRA hazardous waste facility permits for three storage and four wastewater treatment facilities. The facilities received a final permit in 1994 that allowed storage of 180,000 gallons of hazardous waste. From 1981 until 1994 an interim permit allowed storage of 775,000 gallons of waste storage. No permits were required prior to 1981. During 1982 - 1992, NAS was cited for violations of hazardous waste laws during 9 of 10 inspections conducted by the State.
CLEAN WATER ACT (CWA)
Industrial wastes was discharged directly into the bay from the baseÕs establishment in 1940 until 1975 when waste water treatment systems were installed. The impacts of these waste water discharges are primarily found in sediments in the storm sewers, sea plane lagoon, pier areas, and the Oakland Estuary. Twenty years after the waste water discharges reportedly stopped, the the release of contaminants from sediments accumulated in the storm sewer system continues to violate CWA standards.
CLEAN AIR ACT
In 1992, a limited number of West End residents received the Toxic Hot Spot notification letters from NAS advising that air discharges from NAS would likely expose residents to toxic chemicals in their homes. In a demonstration of NASÕs resources and the effectiveness of right to know regulations such as the Toxic Hot Spot Act (AB2588), NAS quickly modernized painting facilities and substituted paint solvents that did not contain toxic components. NAS quickly eliminated the risk, and is no longer required to notify residents.
UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANKS
In 1994, 101 underground fuel storage tanks and 10 miles of fuel pipelines were known to be located at NAS Alameda. Additional inactive tanks are expected to be identified during environmental review. In 1995, 66 of the 101 tanks were removed. Contaminated soil was stockpiled at Site 13 immediately upwind from Central Avenue residents.
TOXIC SUBSTANCE CONTROL ACT (TSCA)
TSCA regulates chemicals such as PCBs that have been banned from manufacturing because of their environmental persistence and accumulation in the food chain. PCBs are the primary contaminant at a number of cleanup sites at the base. PCBs are found in high concentrations in fish in San Francisco Bay.
Two landfills at the base are known to contain small amounts of radium used to illuminate dials in older aircraft. Surveys have also detected high radiation levels in areas that are accessible to the public, unfenced and not posted with warning signs. The radiation in these areas is reportedly from spills of radioactive material during ship transfers.
Date Navy identified principle toxic waste sites: 1983
Number of principle toxic waste sites identified: 23
Number of principle toxic waste sites cleaned up by 1997: 0
Number of cleanups initiated up by 1997: 2
Number of cleanup experiments conducted or ongoing: 6
Minimum cleanup required under Superfund: 1 in 10,000 cancer risk
Navy proposed cleanup standard: 1 in 10,000 cancer risk
Generally accepted cleanup standard: 1 in 1,000,000 cancer risk
StateÕs legally required cleanup standard: zero or naturally occurring level
Most important aspect of community participation: Administrative record, a collection of reports on cleanup maintained at the public library
Last update to NAS Administrative Record: April 1996
Site 15 contamination prior to cleanup: 3 acres
Money spent to date on Site 15 cleanup: $2 million
Number of acres currently affected by Site 15 soils: 4 acres
Estimated cost to complete Site 15 cleanup: $1 million
Estimated Cost to cleanup a gallon of spilled gasoline: $1,000
Fuel losses from single NAS tank system : 365,000 gallons
Navy estimate of NAS cleanup costs: $200 million
NAS cleanup budget 1997: $33 million
Potential NAS cleanup costs: $1 Billion
Fines paid by NAS for Environmental Violations: $40,000
One of nine criteria used to evaluate cleanup activities at Superfund sites is community acceptance to the cleanup plan. Recently, Clearwater Revival Co. and West End Concerned Citizens developed a Good Neighbor Agreement to provide the Navy a list of goals and criteria for evaluating whether their cleanup plan is likely to be acceptable to the community. The purpose of the Good Neighbor Agreement is to expedite the cleanup of contaminated sites in a manner that does not compromise a high level of environmental and human health protection. We are asking fellow Alameda citizens and organizations to endorse this agreement.
COMMUNITY ACCEPTANCE CRITERIA
1) Complete cleanup by 2050.
2) Cleanup property near residents first.
3) Investigate off-site impacts of contamination.
4) Minimize dust from contaminated soil.
5) Minimize property impacted by cleanup.
6) Eliminate impacts to ecological environment and fishery.
7) Allow for meaningful participation.
8) Adhere to accepted standards of practice.
9) Complete a project expeditiously.