Navy digs up petroleum contamination in rare cleanup action

Cleaning up petroleum contamination in soil and groundwater is pretty straightforward.  It is usually accomplished by one or more tried-and-proven methods that rely on inserting PVC pipe into the contamination zone for treatment.  But multiple efforts outside the sprawling Building 5 hangar complex on West Tower Avenue at Alameda Point failed to reduce contamination to regulatory goals.  In August 2020, after almost two decades of investigation and treatment efforts, the Navy resorted to a rarely used option of digging up all of the soil down to the water table and hauling most of it away.

Building 5 was the location of the Navy’s plane refurbishing and overhaul facility where thousands of civilians worked.  It was known as the Naval Air Rework Facility.  Before an airplane was moved into the hangar, it underwent de-fueling, flushing out fuel lines and cleaning various components with products akin to paint thinner.  This preparatory work was the source of the contamination in the soil and groundwater near the big hangar doors. Continue reading “Navy digs up petroleum contamination in rare cleanup action”

Wetland contract awarded for Alameda Point

On August 7, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a services contract to Adanta, Inc. of Napa to expand and enhance an existing wetland on the Veterans Affairs (VA) property at Alameda Point.  The wetland project is being implemented to offset impacts to wetland areas elsewhere on the VA property where a health clinic, offices and a columbarium cemetery will be built.

“The four-year services contract, valued at up to $2,373,044, includes development, seed collection, propagation, restoration, and enhancement to ensure the wetland is completely established as a self-sustaining tidal marsh at the VA Alameda Point site,” states the Corps of Engineers August 14 news release.  “In total, 8 acres of new tidal marsh will be installed and established, as will 3.3 acres of tidal transitional habitat; and 14.8 acres of existing tidal wetland will be enhanced.”  Seed collection and preparation is scheduled to start this summer.  The work is expected to be completed in 2025.

One-third of the wetland impacts of the VA project will not be offset at Alameda Point.  The Corps of Engineers will purchase credits in the San Francisco Bay Wetland Mitigation Bank for 3.6 acres of impacts.  The mitigation bank manages a wetland restoration project in Redwood City funded by Bay Area projects that impact wetlands.  The credit purchase detail is not mentioned in the news release. Continue reading “Wetland contract awarded for Alameda Point”

New generation of Great Blue Herons born in cypress rookery

The cypress trees in the wetland near the proposed DePave Park at Alameda Point have served as a safe and secure nesting site for Great Blue Herons for many years.  This year is no exception, despite the trees having died and barely standing.  On May 7, Audubon Society bird observer Dawn Lemoine counted 13 juveniles in the nests.

The wetland around the cypress trees provides the ideal landing spot for the young herons’ first flight and subsequent adaptation to life outside the nest.  They can be seen for the first week or so after leaving the nest hanging out in the wetland preening and sunning themselves. Continue reading “New generation of Great Blue Herons born in cypress rookery”

Western Bluebird chicks raised on smorgasbord of bugs

The brightly colored male and its grayer colored mate were spotted briefly landing on top of an old light pole, as if to show off their insect catch.  More likely it was a precautionary stop to ensure that no predators were lurking nearby before springing into air and entering the nest cavity in the pole just below the top.

This was the only clue in early May 2020 that a pair of Western Bluebirds had a nest at the old campground at Alameda Point.  The chicks were silent and unseen for weeks until they began peering out of the hole a few days before flying away.

Continue reading “Western Bluebird chicks raised on smorgasbord of bugs”

Harbor seal pup grows up at Alameda Point

A harbor seal pup is being raised by its mom at Alameda Point.  It is the fourth year in a row that a pup has been observed utilizing the harbor seal float.  It is unknown where any of the pups were born.

Here is a gallery of photos from April showing the pup nursing, resting on the float, and riding on its mother’s back in the harbor.  The pup can be identified when on the float as the one with the light gray coat.  Continue reading “Harbor seal pup grows up at Alameda Point”

Navy stabilizes shoreline at Alameda Point

Part of the shoreline along the Oakland Estuary at Alameda Point has been upgraded with a prominent new pale gray stone embankment.  While the aesthetic value is immediately apparent, the engineering value is not.

The reinforcement of this Estuary shoreline, including several hundred feet on the Bay side, ensures that both shorelines remain stable. Continue reading “Navy stabilizes shoreline at Alameda Point”

Construction work continues at Alameda Point

Construction workers at Alameda Point’s Site A residential and commercial project offer a sign of hope for the future as they continue building a new neighborhood.  Construction work is exempt from the stay-at-home orders during the Covid 19 pandemic.  Workers must observe the distancing directives from health officials.

Here are a few photos from Thursday, March 19, 2020: Continue reading “Construction work continues at Alameda Point”