Environmental Justice Progress Report

Volume 15, July 1998

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Recreational Exposure to Marijuana Okay, Report on Navy Drug testing at Alameda Point

End to Leasing Sought at Alameda Point, Navy Fails to Communicate Toxic Hazards

News in Brief

Recreational Exposure to Marijuana Okay Report on Navy Drug testing at Alameda Point

Drug testing dirt? Marijuana is found in high concentration in soil gas at a Navy toxic waste site according to a poorly drafted Remedial Investigation (RI) Report released by the Navy in February 1998. The RI Report goes on to conclude that the levels of marijuana and other hazardous materials do not represent a risk to human health under a "recreational use" scenario.

Nearly everyone, regulators, restoration advisory board members and outside consultants agree that the RI Report in preparation for over three years, was substandard and of unacceptable quality. The (apparently mistaken) reference to a controlled substance such as marijuana is so out of place in a military installation's toxic waste site report that serious doubts now need to be raised about the qualifications of the independent, objective, and registered engineer or geologist who supervised the preparation of this report.

Originally scheduled for public comment in September 1997, an acceptable draft of the RI Report, documenting the sampling and health risks at 12 toxic waste sites will be a year late. The sampling that was the subject of the RI Report was completed in 1995.

The Navy's RI Report in February 1998 concluded that no cleanup of toxic waste was required at any of the 12 sites evaluated. This conclusion was reached by:

  1. Ignoring that Alameda Point is located near the bay
  2. Ignoring the Community Reuse Plan
  3. Failing to use a sound scientific process to support decision making.
  4. Failing to comply with the Executive Order on Environmental Justice.

End to Leasing Sought at Alameda Point Navy Fails to Communicate Toxic Hazards

WECC's consultant sent a letter to the Base Cleanup Team requesting as a matter of public safety no future leasing of property at Alameda Point be performed. WECC cited the uncontrolled spreading of contaminated soil, and the exposure of utility workers at the former base.

The Navy developed a Hazard Communication Program to ensure that visitors, contractors, and employees in and around the Navy's 25 toxic waste sites had information about the toxic hazards they might encounter. The Navy refuses to make the warnings required by their program and refuses to fence and post these toxic waste sites. As a result, unnecessary exposures to toxins continue to occur because the current institutional controls are entirely ineffective.

The incompatibilities between the redevelopment and cleanup are also financial. The ARRA has been sealing and replacing asphalt pavement throughout Alameda Point. In many cases, new asphalt has been installed over buried fuel line piping that the Navy plans to remove, together with much of the ARRA's new asphalt, over the next few months. The Navy's pavement markings showing the fuel line and buried utility locations has been obliterated by the ARRA's actions. The Navy will now be required to remark utility locations.

News In Brief

Navy can't find 700,000 tons of toxic waste

A June 19, 1998 letter to the editor written by the Navy Public Affairs Office indicated that there is no "toxic waste" at Alameda Point. A Navy report in 1983 indicated that 700,000 tons of toxic waste was buried in two landfills along the western shoreline of Alameda Point. How did the Navy sneak 700,000 tons of toxic waste, equal to the weight of 17 USS Hornets Aircraft Carriers, out of Alameda Point without anyone noticing? We believe the Navy mixed the toxic waste with surplus government cheese and fed it to fish in San Francisco Bay.

National Environmental Justice Action Committee Meeting Follow up

West End Concerned Citizens (WECC) addressed NEJAC at their quarterly meeting in Oakland, California on June 1, 1998, to request a national policy requiring the use of independent and objective scientists in environmental decision making. WECC questioned the independence and objectiveness of the Navy's consultants, IT Corporation and Tetra-Tech/EMI, who receive 70 and 50 percent of their revenues, respectively, from the federal government. At sites throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, these consultants have been at the center of environmental racism charges.

Navy Cleanup Contractor may be sued for exposing nearby residents to toxins during Fort Ord Cleanup

Residents living in former military housing at Fort Ord have filed a notice of intent to sue under Proposition 65 against IT Corp. the Navy's principle contractor at Alameda Point. The notice alleges that IT Corp failed to warn resident about exposure to lead dust from cleanup operations. Fort Ord air monitoring showed IT Corp.'s operations exceeded local air quality standards on at least 14 occasions.

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Revised July 8, 1998