Environmental Justice Progress Report

Volume 5, May 1997

To receive a free copy of the this monthly report of for more information, please contact us at clearh2orev@earthlink.net.


Navy Questions State Authority - No Agreement on Cleanup Methodology at NAS

Legacy Day - Navy to Pay $104,000 in Hazardous Waste Fines to State

Understanding RCRA ... federal hazardous waste law

Is there a lack of political leadership on hazardous waste site cleanup at NAS?

Navy Questions State Authority - No Agreement on Cleanup Methodology at NAS

"The Navy has walked away from the table refusing to continue to negotiate an agreement on how cleanup of pollution will occur at naval bases in California," was the message the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal-EPA) delivered to the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) at its May 6, 1997 meeting. A center point to the dispute is the Navy's questioning of the legal authority of the Cal-EPA over cleanup of contaminated property.

The remaining disagreements that were made public contradict statements made to the Restoration Board at its November 1996 meeting that an agreement in principle had been made between the Navy and state regulatory agency. Cal-EPA is now considering a law-suit against the Navy. At the RAB meeting Cal-EPA suggested community members may wish to consider a law-suit as well.

RAB Responds

The Restoration Advisory Board took issue at the failure of the Navy and state to reach an agreement on the cleanup method for NAS. The RAB feels that this threatens to delay reuse and transfer of the base to the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority and the community. The RAB has sent a letter to Navy, state and political representatives to ensure that reaching an agreement remains a top priority.

Legacy Day - Navy to Pay $104,000 in Hazardous Waste Fines to State

In between the airplanes, softball games, speeches and plaques, departing Base Commander Jim Dodge signed an agreement with the Department of Toxic Substance Control to pay $104,000 in fines for violating hazardous waste regulations. While the Navy indicated in Alameda Journal press reports that the violations were immediately corrected, the similar violations were observed throughout the April 18 to 25 celebration week. Those attending the legacy celebration may have noticed the uncovered containers of hazardous waste near a dismantled cyanide treatment system or the illegally stored solvent wastes.

Since 1981, DTSC has performed inspections of NAS less than once per year. In nearly every inspection dating to this time DTSC has identified serious violations of hazardous waste laws.

After losing its sovereign immunity, NAS was the first federal facility in California to be fined by DTSC paying an $80,000 fine in December 1994 for hazardous waste violations that have repeatedly been observed during DTSC's annual enforcement inspections. The most recent notice of violation occurred in November 1996 and involved violations by the NavyÕs cleanup program (see inside).

IR Site 18 Violations - Storm Sewer cleanup cited by DTSC

On November 25, 1996, the IR Site 18 Storm Sewer cleanup was cited by DTSC for several violations including treatment of hazardous waste without proper authorization. DTSC did not cite the Navy for more serious violations because the the treatment system reportedly recycled the treated waste water in sewer cleanup process.

On February 28, 1997, a complaint was filed with DTSC that alleged this recycled hazardous waste had been spilled on Main Street from a tank truck involved in the storm sewer cleanup process. The Navy indicated to DTSC that the tank trucks hold "clean water only" and some spillage from the trucks is inadvertent. The Navy has made two contradictory statements to DTSC. Is the Navy recycling hazardous waste (by spilling it on city streets) or are they not recycling, and therefore treating hazardous waste illegally?

Understanding RCRA...the federal hazardous waste law

Interim Status Permits

Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) existing hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities were required to apply for an interim status or Part A permit in 1981. Many existing facilities required structural modifications before a final or Part B permit could be issued. The Navy received a final Part B permit for NAS in 1994. Four of the facilities in the NavyÕs Part A application were not included in the Final Part B permit. These facilities were out of service and promised to be closed.


Closure is a requirement of a hazardous waste facility permit. A written closure plan must be prepared to describe the method for removing all hazardous wastes and describing how the structures and equipment will be decontaminated to remove any hazardous waste residues. Soil sampling or "wipe samples" from equipment are generally collected during closure to confirm that no hazardous waste contamination remains.

Corrective Action Sites

As a condition of its Part B permit the Navy agreed to investigate a number of areas of the base where hazardous waste had historically be used and stored. These corrective action sites included seven 90-day generator accumulation points (GAPs), and six active and 26 inactive underground storage tanks.

Final or Part B Permit

Despite the complaints from several local residents at public hearings, Cal-EPA issued NAS a Part B Permit in 1994 for eight separate hazardous waste facilities. Residents complained that the Navy did not adequately evaluate the risk to children living in on-base housing, had a poor compliance record, and they would be allowed to store acutely toxic cyanide wastes for extended periods.

Tiered Permits

Tiered permits is a relatively recent program that was introduced by Cal-EPA to streamline the permitting of the most common hazardous waste operations. NAS has a total of eight operations that operated under tiered permits.

ARRA's Hazardous Waste Plans for NAS

Does the ARRA intend to market hazardous waste facility permits to attract polluting industries to NAS? While other cities are risking public funds on football stadiums the ARRA is getting into the hazardous waste business.

A May 1996 letter from NAS to the ARRA states that: " The Navy is willing to go one step further and as an interim measure, to amend the Navy's current permit to include the ARRA as an operator, as long as ARRA agrees, prior to beginning operations, to assume all permit responsibility for permit fees, responsibility for any fines incurred as a results of the sublease operations, training of operators, a financial responsibility for permit closure, and any other provisions which are spelled out in the desired permit."

The Navy has modified closure plans for IWTP-24, IWTP-25, and IWTP-32 leaving chemicals and equipment behind for future ARRA tenants. The Navy has also proposed to leave its tiered permitted facilities available for reuse.

Hazardous Waste Facility Closure - A "Bad Faith" Demonstration

In 1993 the Navy did not include four hazardous waste facilities its final Part B permit application. The Navy told state regulators and the local community that the facilities would be "closed". The written closure plans were not approved for the first of these facilities, ITWP-360, until 1996. One of the facilities to be closed is now shown as a tier permitted unit that has apparently remained operational. Despite the removal of a majority of the underground tanks at NAS, seven 25,000-gallon tanks remain buried at Area 37 less than a 100 feet from the seaplane lagoon. No written closure plan has been approved for these tanks. The Building 410 Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant has not been operational since 1989.

Hazardous Waste Facilities at NAS

Industrial Waste Treatment Plants Building 5 (IWTP-5)
Building 24 (IWTP-24)
Building 25 (IWTP-25)
Building 32 (IWTP-32)
To be closed.
Planned reuse.
Planned reuse.
Planned reuse.
Tank and Container Storage Areas Building 13
Yard D-13
Structure 598
Industrial Waste Treatment Plants Building 410 (IWTP-410)
Building 360 (IWTP-360)
Building 360 pH Adjustment
Out of Service 1989.
Closure plan Sept. 1996.
Misrepresented in Part B permit
Underground Storage Tanks and Pipelines Area 37 Seven 25,000 gallon tanks.
Generator Accumulation Points (GAP) GAP-26
Area 342
Area 374
Area 420
Area 166(NE)
Area 528
Area 67
Active Underground Storage Tanks (6) 398-1,2; 615-1,2,3; Bldg-397.
Abandoned Underground Storage Tanks (26) Area 37; 6-1,2,3; 13-1,2,3; 15-1,2,3; 117; 411; 261-1,2,3; 372; 374-1; 393; 420-1,2; 442; 473; 506; AV-1,2; FS.
Permit-by-Rule Building 360 pH Adjustment
Conditional Authorization Bilge Oil Wsatewater
Conditional Exemption Building 360
Medical Clinic
Building 5
Building 5
Building 32
Building 25
Triple Rinsing Drums
Medical Clinic
Photo Shop
Inspection Shop
Triple Rinsing Drums
Triple Rinsing Drums

Is there a lack of political leadership on hazardous waste site cleanup at NAS?

The Navy's departure provides a unique opportunity to mitigate the large number of toxic waste sites and other pollution hazards in West Alameda. It is important that political representatives realize that pollution cleanup is not an obstacle but an opportunity. The opportunity to restore West Alameda to an economically and environmentally sustainable community.

Despite the importance of the pollution cleanup issue there has been no open discussion among the city, county, state or federal politicians about pollution cleanup at NAS.

The lack of direct involvement by city representatives contributes to the Navy's open disregard of public safety standards in the management of hazardous waste and the cleanup of hazardous waste sites. A city government that has collectively ignored this public health problem rather that deal with it in an open and thorough manner does a disservice to the City of Alameda and its future.

The Navy's hazardous waste fines and disputes with the State on cleanup methodology should be a wake-up call to the ARRA, Alameda city government, and residents of Alameda.

April 1997 Edition | NAS Site Map | Clearwater Revival Home Page

Revised May 15, 1997