BAYPORT BROWNFIELDS PROJECT
The City of Alameda, Catellus, and Warmington Homes are currently building new housing on a brownfield along Industrial Highway, as Atlantic Avenue was known in the past. The housing project, Bayport, is being built on a filled marsh that was used in the past by local industry as a garbage dump. The property was later turned into a commercial airport. At the onset of World War II, housing was constructed on the southern portion of the the property to house thousands of workers at a major ship building plant. The remainder of the property was used by Sharpe Army Depot and after WWII the US Navy.
STATE'S DEED RESTRICTION DATABASE
When individual Bayport homes are sold, state law appears to require the specific address of each home be placed in an on-line database to warn prospective property purchasers of the deed restriction requirements.
The California Department of Toxic Substance Control's (DTSC's) on-line Deed Restriction database currently provides the address for East Housing, the brownfield on which Bayport is being built, as 950 West Mall Square. This address is more than 1 mile away from East Housing and defeats the purpose of DTSC providing this information on the internet.
ALAMEDA's EXCAVATION ORDINANCE
DTSC's database cites the release of arsenic and "other organic solids" that remain on the site. The deed restriction on Bayport requires compliance with the City of Alameda's Marsh Crust Excavation Ordinance. Everytime a property owner digs into the marsh crust contamination layer, a permit, requiring thousands of dollars of reports, must be obtained from the City of Alameda .
The Department of Public Works has prepared a map showing the marsh crust contamination layer at depths below high tide, or Mean Higher High Water (MHHW), throughout much of the Bayport development. The NOAA tidal station at Alameda Point indicates that MHHW is 6.36 feet above sea level (NAVD). Pre-development elevations in East Housing ranged from 7 to 10 feet above NAVD. According to the Public Works Department map, contamination may be present at depths as shallow as six inches.
EAST HOUSING CONTAMINATED SOIL REMOVAL
DTSC's Deed Restriction database contains this information on East Housing:
In June 2001, DTSC certified remedial action for East Housing was complete, when DTSC knew soil sample results from April of that year indicated that further remedial action was required. Over $4 million dollars was subsequently spent to remove soil contaminated by chlordane in the spring and summer of 2002. Chlordane is a termite control compound that has been banned from manufacturing and use in the United States due to health impacts in residents on properties where it has been applied.
A July 2003 DTSC Fact Sheet states:
Since DTSC certified Corrective Action at the Bayport development site was complete in 2001, over 1,200 trucks removed 29,270 tons of contaminated soil, after the soil had been excavated and placed in poorly covered piles. Air samples show dust standards were exceeded as the wind and vehicle tires redistributed this contaminated soil throughout and beyond the site boundaries. DTSC acknowledges that they did not visit the site once during the four month period to oversee the removal activities five miles from their regional office in Berkeley.
In response to public comments on the permit modification described in the fact sheet DTSC stated:
Corrective Action is complete. Confidently, DTSC has again certified that any exposure of future Bayport residents to residual toxins at the former East Housing site does not make the area unsafe for you and your family to live on.
TOXIN INVESTIGATION NEEDED AT BAYPORT SCHOOL SITE
But wait. DTSC is currently overseeing an Alameda Unified School District investigation of potential contamination at a proposed elementary school site within the Bayport development. According to a newspaper report (Alameda Times-Star, 7/26/04), DTSC is concerned about benzene contamination in shallow groundwater at the proposed elementary school site.
DTSC CONTACT INFORMATION
This is the contact information from the DTSC fact sheets referenced above:
Look for followup postings about Bayport at toxicspot.com.
Posted September 16, 2004
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