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Volume 25, September 1999

Table of Contents

Are cleanup plans for Five Toxic Waste Sites Imminent
Don't Hold Your Breath, Actually Maybe You Should

The delayed cleanup plans for 5 of the 25 idenified toxic waste sites at Alameda Point Superfund site are to be released for a 60-day public comment period in September 1999. A public hearing originally scheduled for June 1998, will also be held during the 60-day period.

The anticipated cleanup plans for the five cleanup sites, collectively referred to as Operable Unit One (OU-1) include:

Descriptions of the Five Sites in Operable Unit No. 1

Site 6 is an air craft maintenance hanger located at at the east end of the South Hangar Row. The site is proposed as an indoor display area for an aircraft museum. The site was used to stage contaminated soil during the inactive fuel-line removal project. Additional investigation of groundwater to determine the extent of paint removal solvents in groundwater is being required before a cleanup action can be determined.

Site 7 is a former gas station located on Main Street North of Atlantic Avenue. Releases of gasoline at this site are impacting air quality. This was particularily evident during the removal of the underground tanks in November 1998, when excavtion cave-ins and flooding also contributed to the unsafe site conditions. Gasoline has been found in storm sewers near the site where it represents a fire and explosion hazard. Site 7 was the former location of a dry cleaner. The Navy will recommend that this site be removed from the Superfund Program under the Petroleum Exemption.

Site 8, is a former pesticide handling area located kitty-corner to the Southeast side of the Administration Building, which is now City Hall West. The site is known to have groundwater contamination from chlorinated solvents including vinyl chloride. Despite the Navy's exemption claim, contamination at Site 8 should be addressed under the Superfund program.

Site 15, is located between the East-West Runway and the shoreline of the Oakland Estuary. Soil at Site 15 is contaminated with PCBs and Lead. This site was subject to a failed removal action in June 1995. Contaminated soil was removed to an illegally constructed Corrective Action Management Unit in November 1995. This illegal landfill was removed for safety reasons in September 1998. Though the results of investigations have been largely invalidated by the construction of a sewer lateral across the Oakland Estuary and throught Site 15, the Proposed Plan is expected to recommend removal of PCB contaminated soil that remains along the Oakland Estuary in addition to further investigation of groundwater contamination.

Site 16, is located adjacent to Encinal High School. This site was subject to a failed removal action in September 1998. Soil at Site 16 is contaminated with PCBs , lead, plasticizers and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. Chlorinated solvents are found in groundwater at the site. The Proposed Plan for Site 16 is to recommend no further action.

Can'tellus Development Corp. reneges on RAB presentation
Is FISC Warehouse site too polluted for housing?

Sometime in between July 13th and August 10th, Can'tellus Development Corp. lost their presentation slides. The agenda for the August 10th FISC RAB meeting called for Can'tellus to provide a presentation on their risk assessment results for a warehouse area in the FISC Annex where Can'tellus Development intends to construct residential housing. On July 13th Can'tellus presented this information to the Base Cleanup Team (BCT) which consists of the Navy, US EPA and Cal-EPA.

At the August 10th FISC RAB meeting all Can'tellus had to say was the human health risks at the warehouse area were found to be "as expected." The cancer risk ranged from one-in-one million to one-in-ten thousand, which is entirely in an unacceptable risk range. Can'tellus didn't have anything to say about East Housing where they have also collected samples to evaluate toxic contamination.

There are a lot of things that Can'tellus can't tell us. But eventually toxin sampling results will be disclosed in the upcoming Environmental Impact Report for their project reportedly to be released on September 7, 1999.

Navy continues to ignore community concerns with EBS
Senator Boxer reminds Navy the US is a democracy

An August 3, 1999 letter from the Navy finally acknowledged community input to the Environmental Baseline Surveys (EBS). The comments on the EBS were submitted to the Navy on October 28, 1997. Though the Navy has acknowledged receipt of these comments 21 months later, the Navy has still chosen not respond to these comments as previously promised.

The Navy's August 3, 1999, acknowledgment came only after a letter of inquiry from Senator Boxer to the Office of the Secretary of the Navy. The Navy ignored two previous requests for a response, one written, the second in public comments recorded in the minutes of the monthly RAB Meeting.

The events surrounding these EBS comments demonstrate that the Navy's Community Relation Plan is a farce, and further demonstrate that the Navy's EBS documents can't stand-up to public scrutiny. The Navy is fully aware of both of these deficiencies but does not feel compelled to do anything about them until the West End becomes home to a friend of a US Senator.

Quote of the Month

" .. the contamination in the marsh crust and subtidal area was already being addressed by way of institutional controls prior to the proposed listing. "

A month after adding Alameda Point to the Superfund program, US EPA Headquarters continues to provide misleading information to a concerned public about their rationale for excluding the marsh crust from the Superfund Site boundaries. The plan for the cleanup of contamination in the marsh crust and subtidal area has not been finalized, has not been released for public comment, and has not been the subject of a public hearing. No institutional controls will be obligated until a Record of Decision for the marsh crust is signed which is not expected to occur until April 2000.

Dale's Bar/Railroad Property Sampled by City-
Lack of Due Diligence Symptom of Development-blinded City

As reported in the previous edition of EJPP the City of Alameda did not have much trouble discovering significant contamination on its million dollar property purchase. Dale's Bar and the adjacent Union Pacific Rail Road Right-of-way along Main Street were purchased with the intent of constructing a park and storm-water facilities to serve future residents of the Can'tellus Development project on FISC Toxic Waste Site No. 1.

A strong chemical odor alerted construction workers to the toxic contamination in shallow soils. On August 6, 1999 the City collected samples for chemical analyses. EJPP will post the sample results when and if the City makes them available to the public.

Institutional Control Monitoring
Controls Ineffective again and again

Site 4, Batelle Treatability Study (status: on-going)
Hazardous Waste Operation Worker in shorts (8/3/99)

Site 5, BERC Treatability Study(status: equipment removed, hazardous waste remains)
Uncovered Hazardous Waste Containers (on-going)
Hazardous Waste Storage greater than 90 Days (on-going)
Uncontrolled Soil Aeration greater than 90 Days (on-going)

Site 16, Alameda Reuse Authority (status: on-going)
Superfund Documentation not prepared for Contaminated Soil Excavation (on-going)
No Health and Safety Plan, No Site Controls for Dust, Stormwater (on-going)

Site 5, New World Technologies Radioactive Material Removal Action (status: on-going)
No Site Controls (on-going since October 1998)
Health and Safety Plan Ignored (on-going since October 1998)

Dog Park/Ferry Terminal, City of Alameda (status: on-going)
No Site Controls for Contaminated Soil Piles (on-going since 1997)
Samples Collected to Determine extent of Toxics Contamination (August 1999)

Child Development Center, Alameda Unified School District(status: on-going)
No Site Controls for Contaminated Soil during play equipment installation and land-scape replacement (on-going )

Pier 1, Alameda Reuse Authority (status: on-going)
No Site Controls for Fuel Plume, Broken Water Main (leak continued for one week, collapsing roadway, discharged water with fuel overland into bay)

Regional Water Quality Control Board Over-sight
Bad for public safety, the Environment, Public Participation

The Navy's use of the petroleum exemption is an attempt to find a regulatory agency that won't require any cleanup and won't require any public review of the proposed "no cleanup" plans. This regulatory agency in the past has been the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB). The RWQCB readily admits that they don't have any authority over the Navy (or any business located at the former base) because the land is owned by the federal government. Since receiving a Cease and Desist Order from the Water Board in 1969 to stop discharging untreated industrial waste into the bay, the Navy has continuously ignored RWQCB directives to address water contamination with complete impunity.

The Superfund listing was in part the result of the Navy's inability to negotiate in good faith with the State of California on a Federal Facilities Cleanup Agreement. If Superfund listing is to address this issue, why are significant contaminated sites being taken out of Superfund and placed under the authority of a state environmental agency?

Question Authority - Stay the Course - No back-door "petroleum exemption."

The idea that for the past 16 years the wrong regulatory agency has been over-seeing the cleanup of certain toxic waste sites at Alameda Point is troubling. The recommendation by the Navy to transfer certain toxic waste sites to the State's leaking underground storage tank program results in a lower level of protection for human health and the environment, primarily through a reduction in the public participation requirements to which cleanup or no cleanup plans must be subjected. Each of the Navy's recommended "petroleum exempt" sites contains contamination other than petroleum. Contact the Base Cleanup Team and let them know that given the low level of cleanup occurring under the Superfund program, you are not willing to settle for any further reduction in cleanup for toxic waste sites where petroleum is one of the contaminants.

The Environmental Justice Progress Report is the newsletter of West End Concerned Citizens (WECC). WECC has been monitoring the toxic cleanup planning process at the Alameda Point Naval Air Station (NAS) since 1995. Our community members have become increasingly frustrated at the lack of response to the public's concerns, the inadequate information provided to the public, and the lack of opportunities for the public to participate in the decision making process.

To receive a free copy of the this monthly report of for more information, please contact us at ejpp@toxicspot.com.

July-August 1999 Edition
September 2, 1999