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Volume 26, October 1999

Table of Contents

Coast Guard Housing Units Uninhabitable
Navy Schedules meeting with Residents

Your living on a toxic waste site. That was the message delivered in an October 4, 1999, letter from the Navy to residents of Coast Guard Housing. The Base Cleanup Team has added Coast Guard Housing to its Toxic Waste Site program, combining the housing area with the nearby Estuary Park (Toxic Waste Site 25). The Navy will hold a public meeting at George Miller School at 7:00 pm, on October 27, 1999, to discuss this issue.

The Navy's letter to Coast Guard residents states that the housing on Kollmann Circle will not be inhabited because the groundwater beneath these structures is contaminated. The Navy's contaminant maps also show groundwater contamination beneath George Miller Elementary School, and Singelton Avenue housing units. Groundwater contamination was also found throughout the Coast Guard duplexes before these housing units were constructed in 1990 on a former Army and Navy warehouse area.

In November 1999, a fence was installed around Estuary Park to address public exposures to toxic waste at this site. No fence or resident relocations are proposed for Coast Guard Housing, though these measures seem prudent. To the contrary rather than move people out of this toxic waste site, building renovations and family move-ins continue.

Water Board Threatens Enforcement Action
Deadlines for Cleanup, Reporting, Tank Removal missed

At the October 5, 1999, meeting of the Alameda Point Restoration Advisory Board, the Regional Water Quality Control Board stated it was ready to pursue legal action against the US Navy for violation of pollution laws. The Water Board said that the Navy failed to remove a high-risk underground fuel tank by December 18, 1998, the deadline under federal environmental laws. The remarks by the Water Board contradict statements in a Navy Newsletter distributed in the Alameda Journal in January 1999. "By December 18, the last tank was removed from the ground, thus meeting the federal deadline," stated Navy Project Manager Warren Yip.

The Water Board also indicated that the Navy had not complied with state laws (23 CCR 2655 Free Product Removal Requirements) requiring a report on the removal of fuel product from the groundwater surface within 45 days of leak discovery.

The Water Board complained that the Navy's report on the removal of 27 underground storage tanks during the Fall of 1998 is four months over-due. This report would document where tank leaks were discovered and additional cleanup is required. Information on leaks from Navy underground storage tanks removed during 1996 can be found on the internet at www.toxicspot.com link to Alameda Point Toxics Maps.

Incompetent Environmental Studies to be Redrafted
Cleanup Plans, Property Transfer Indefinitely Delayed

The anticipated September 1999 release for public review of Navy cleanup plans for the Marsh Crust and Operable Unit No. 1 did not materialize. No future dates for release of these documents has been publicized.

Community and regulator comments on the Draft Feasibility Studies for the Marsh Crust and Operable Unit No. 1 (a collection of five toxic waste sites) indicate that these studies were incompetently prepared. The time to prepare Feasibility Studies that meet minimum regulatory and professional standards will likely delay environmental cleanup and property transfer further. The continuing delays are increasing attributed to poorly qualified Navy consultants.

Quote of the Month

"Safety Town Express"

Sign on the side of school bus destined for the Alameda Point Superfund Site. Over 1,000 acres at the former base are polluted with significant toxins. Navy activities on the closed base continue to violate pollution control laws. Like the sign says at the entrance - Safety hazards may be present. If the fire hydrants at Alameda Point could talk like "Pluggie," they would be telling children that this is not a safe part of town to play in.

Navy Cleanup a Threat to Drinking Water in Alameda
Steam Injection Study Boils Water Lines

UC Berkeley tested a cleanup technique in which steam is injected into the ground to allow quicker cleanup of solvent contamination. The injected steam heated buried water lines increasing the pressure in these lines. The steam-heated water lines created a condition referred to as back-flow.

Normally, back-flow preventers are used throughout water distribution system to prevent industrial processes from introducing hazardous materials into drinking water. The potable water system at Alameda Point is sub-standard, and does not have adequate back-flow preventors.

Though the steam injection project was completed over two months ago, the steam-heated water lines continue to threaten water quality throughout the EBMUD system. The Navy and UC Berkeley used poor engineering judgment in applying this technology in an area with buried utilities. You would think that UC Berkeley could find a way to use Alameda Point as an environmental laboratory without using Alameda residents as laboratory rats.

Stormwater Pollution Ads Target Residents
City Agencies and Developers Source of Problems

The biggest storm water polluter in the City of Alameda, has been running half-page ads in the Alameda Journal to suggest residents are principally responsible for water quality impacts to the bay. The reality is that the City of Alameda Public Works Department and Bureau of Electricity are the most flagrant violators of the city's stormwater pollution prevention ordnance. A visit to any development site in the City would demonstrate the complete lack of enforcement of the city's stormwater pollution ordinance.

City agencies regularly pump contaminated groundwater, fuels and sediments from Alameda Point Utility vaults directly into the bay. The Public Works department regularly abandons stockpiles of contaminated soil, such as the soils along an unlined drainage ditch at the Alameda Ferry Terminal. Soil heavily contaminated with lead and carcinogenic polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, were left stockpiled at the dog park for six months before they were removed last week.

The quality of water in the bay would be significantly improved if the city spent less money on ads and more money training its employees and enforcing its existing ordinances.

Question Authority - "Why hasn't Superfund Status expidited cleanup?"

When Alameda Point was added to the Superfund list on July 22, 1999, the belief was that Superfund Listing would expidite cleanup. In September 1999, two years over-due, a cleanup plan for Operable Unit No. 1 was scheduled for release to the public, but will now be indefinitely delayed. At the same time the addition of 30 acres of Coast Guard Housing to the Toxic Waste Site cleanup program means the discovery of contamination continues to out-pace cleanup. Contact a member of the Base Cleanup Team and ask them when the expidited toxic waste cleanup will begin.

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
October 6, 1999