|More Stege Marsh (Zeneca,
Campus Bay) Meetings
October 24, 2004
An informational meeting on Stege Marsh Restoration project will be held by the Regional Water Quality Control Board on Wednesday, October 27, 2004, at the Booker T. Anderson Community Center, 960 South 47th Street, Richmond, CA 94804.
For more information, visit www.campusbay.info or call the Regional Water Quality Control Board staff, Terry Seward at 510/622-2416, or Cecil Felix at 510/622-2343.
See article that follows from Berkeley Daily Planet:
Campus Bay Pollution Fears Raised at Park Group Meet: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN
October 22, 2004
Berkeley Daily Planet
Following complaints by neighbors of a controversial South Richmond development site, the top official of the San Francisco Bay Area Water Quality Control Board promised Thursday to order round-the-clock monitoring of potentially toxic dust and compounds escaping from the Campus Bay project.
Bruce Wolfe, executive director of the regional control board, was grilled during his appearance at the board meeting of Citizens for the Eastshore State Park (CESP).
An organization largely composed of members of regional environmental groups, CESP members have voiced concerns about developments on the East Bay shoreline, in particular the Point Molate casino proposal and the Campus Bay project.
But the greatest concerns were raised by two members of Bay Area Residents for Responsible Development (BAARD)—Sherry Padgett, who works at a firm near the Campus Bay site and UC Environmental Science Professor Claudia Carr, who lives nearby—and their attorney, Peter Weiner.
“It’s a perfect storm of a site,” Weiner said. “They are creating an open sore for the community.”
Immediate worries focused on the current dredging of Stege Marsh along the waterfront edge of the site where the developer is proposing to build 1,330 units of housing over the buried hazardous wastes of the former Stauffer/Zeneca chemical manufacturing complex, which produced a variety of noxious organic and inorganic wastes.
Muck from marshlands at the west of the site has been polluted by iron pyrite cinders created in the manufacture of sulfuric acid by Stauffer Chemicals, which operated plants on the sites for nearly a century.
The property was later sold to AstraZeneca, a British firm which retained responsibility for cleanup even after the site was sold to a developer.
The wastes are being dumped atop previously buried hazardous waste and soil which has been partially uncapped to make room for the 25,000 or so cubic yards being excavated from the marshland.
Also buried beneath the cap are wastes from UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station, a 160-acre parcel adjacent to the site which also housed some of the Stauffer/Zeneca buildings and the California Cap Co., which manufactured blasting caps and polluted the site with a toxic mercury compound.
The sites houses a witch’s brew of hazardous materials ranging from heavy metals to organic pesticides and the especially hazardous VOCs, short for volatile organic compounds that are carried by the air.
BARRD is particularly worried that the cap now in place on the Campus Bay site isn’t designed to prevent the escape of VOCs, including the perchlorethylenes and chlorobenzenes found on the site.
An additional concern is the limited monitoring being conducted of dust and organic compounds leaving the site in an area where wind gusts are frequently recorded in the 40 mile per hour range.
“Dust is coming our way. We are really concerned that we will be inundated without proper testing,” Padgett said. “The wind comes right over the property to our business.”
Padgett and Carr both recalled heavy dust levels generated by the original site cleanup work two years ago. “Houses and cars in Marina Bay were covered with dust then,” Carr said.
No monitoring has been conducted when dredging and other work isn’t underway, which came as a surprise to Wolfe, who said he had presumed that monitoring was being conducted around the clock.
“We’re going to be reiterating our requirement to monitor the site 24/7,” Wolfe said.
Weiner said he had been amazed to learn, during a Wednesday night meeting with the cleanup firm handling the site, that acceptable exposure levels used in the monitoring were based on an eight-hour-per-day, six-month basis in an area with nearby residences and companies where people had worked for years.
“This was a revelation to us,” he said. “Usually risk assessments are based on decades of exposure, but this is for six months. Proposition 65 calls for a 70-year period.”
Padgett complained that the current monitoring covers only 22 of the 70 known hazardous compounds at the site.
The site cleanups are being conducted by LFR Levine Fricke, a toxics cleanup firm once headed by Berkeley developer James D. Levine, the would-be developer of a tribal casino, hotel, shopping and entertainment complex on Richmond’s Point Molate.
Carr charged that LFR’s existing report on toxins at Campus Bay is outdated, because it analyzed on-site toxins before soil from the UC site was added to the mix.
“It’s 300,000 cubic yards of something else,” she said.
Shoreline marsh waters off the university site are also heavily polluted, and soil cleanup at the field station still requires additional remediation, Wolfe told CESP members.
Adding yet another complication to the development picture are claims by the Campus Bay developer, Cherokee Simeon Ventures, a specially-formed entity created by Marin County developer Russell Pitto’s Simeon Properties and Cherokee Investment Partners, a firm based in Colorado and Florida that specializes in investing pension fund and other moneys in developments built on “brownfield” sites—reclaimed hazardous waste properties.
The developers had originally planned to build an extension of their Campus Bay business park on the site and had received the appropriate clearances from regulatory agencies, but when the economic downturn stymied that plan they turned to the residential plan.
Regulatory agencies set different standards for residential sites, which are often occupied round-the-clock by infants, children, the elderly and the chronically infirm, and the developers must obtain a whole new set of approvals before they can build housing.
Weiner told Wolfe that city officials had told BARRD that the developer had asked the city to stop its mandatory environmental review required by the California Environmental Quality Act so they could first win the water board’s approval, and the project’s web site (www.campusbay.info/approval.html) claims that “[p]rovided the RWQCB approves the residential reuse, the project will undergo environmental review conducted by the Richmond Planning Department.”
“That’s the disconnect,” said Wolfe. “We can’t give an approval without a new CEQA finding by the city. We’ve just received letters from the city and the developer asking us to stop the process, but we still see on the web site that once approval comes from the water quality control board they will start. That’s simply not true.
“Until it goes through the CEQA process and the project is defined, we can’t act.”
Wolfe said he couldn’t recall a single instance where the board had approved unlimited—that is, residential—use of a site previously cleared only for limited use.
Weiner and other critics of the project have also urged that the lead agency role on the site be handed to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, which retains direct jurisdiction longer than the water boards, which had responsibility to local agencies.
Wolfe has long experience with polluted sites in the area. “I was involved 25 years ago when Liquid Gold was there,” he said. An oil recycling firm, Liquid Gold was located immediately east of the Campus Bay site. Wolfe worked on the cleanup.
“They would take any type of oil without testing. They took (electrical) transformer oil that was laced with PCBs (a now-banned organic toxin) that drained into the marsh,” Wolfe said.