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Owens Corning Turns Up Heat on City Council Members for Shoreline Asphalt Plant
September 15, 2002

As government officials from congressman to mayor convened yesterday a Ferry Point to dedicate the restored pier and heap praise on the Bay Trail and Richmond’s beautiful shoreline, a more sinister struggle was shaping up around a proposal for a new waterfront heavy industry (See ASPHALT PLANT TO TRANSFER  POLLUTION CREDITS TO JUSTIFY LOCATION ON RICHMOND WATERFRONT, E-FORUM, August 6, 2002).

A swarm of Owens Corning officials met privately with most City Council members this past week to tout their proposed asphalt plant on Canal Boulevard in a portion of the former Kaiser Shipyard 3, now known as Point Potrero Marine Terminal. This followed presentations to half a dozen Richmond neighborhood councils over the last several weeks. Officials focused on what would be perceived as positive aspects of the proposed plant, such as jobs for Richmond residents and income for the Port of Richmond while deferring or obfuscating the negative impacts, such as safety, pollution, appearance and odors.

  • At the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council on August 28, 2002, the Owens Corning representatives said that the total annual emission from the plant would be about 16 tons (36,000 pounds), or 100 pounds per day. When a similar presentation was made to City Council members on September 12, 2002, the total emissions had grown to 144.3 tons per year, or 790 pounds per day. And these are just “criteria” pollutants.
  • Rent projections have climbed to $1.3 million annually. However, much of this is function of how much asphalt passes over the docks. Similar past leases with other Port tenants have resulted in monumental losses for the City. A portion was also attributed to property taxes, but nether Owens Corning nor City officials could determine whether the amount was based on taxes paid or the portion the City actually receives.
  • Although requested in neighborhood council meetings, Owens Corning has provided no information on environmental or safety records. In fact, similar Owens Corning facilities have sustained recent fires and explosions as well as substantial penalties for environmental and safety violations.
  • The Point Potrero Marine Terminal is listed in the Seaport Plan as a “Port Priority Area.” This means it cannot be a location for permanent industrial manufacturing facilities, such as the proposed asphalt plant. Owens Corning intends to spend $15-16 million on the plant and is seeking a 10-year lease with an option for an additional 10 years.
  • The proposed location is immediately north of the historic Shipyard 3 Cafeteria, a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a part of the Rosie the Riveter WW II Home Front National Historical Park. It would be cheek by jowl with two 4.2 million gallon asphalt storage tanks, each 150 feet in diameter and 50 feet tall. Similar tanks at three separate Owens Corning facilities have exploded and burned within the past two years.

For more information, including graphics, pen the attached PDF file. Two other PDF files are available on request. One is an expanded discussion of the future of Shipyard 3, and the other is a letter from Tom Butt to City Manager Isiah Turner on the same subject.