Soil cover being installed at future park site

The Navy made significant headway in June and July on its third and final environmental remediation soil-cover project on the Alameda Point airfield, with 7,289 truckloads of soil being hauled in from an East Bay Municipal Utility District soil-storage site in Castro Valley.  The frenzy of truck traffic through the Tube and down Main Street led to complaints of speeding trucks and running red lights, prompting the Navy to warn truck drivers that they could be removed from the job for violating traffic laws, and the City of Alameda Police Department to step up traffic enforcement.

A temporary mountain of approximately 200,000 cubic yards of stockpiled soil is visible on the western end of the airfield during a ferry ride to San Francisco from the Main Street Ferry Terminal.  Another 100,000 cubic yards of cover soil and 60,000 cubic yards of top soil for new vegetation is expected to be delivered by November.  The soil will be used to create a three-foot cover over the 60-acre cleanup site by the end of 2020. Continue reading “Soil cover being installed at future park site”

Word on the street about Alameda Point cleanup

Commercial hangar reuse

The massive aircraft hangar at the end of West Tower Avenue moved one step closer to commercial leasing last week.  The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) performed random radiation scanning inside the building to certify that the Navy’s cleanup of paint residue containing radium-226 was complete.  The other regulatory agencies have already signed off on the radiation cleanup after the Navy performed an inch-by-inch scanning effort.

As soon as this fall, CDPH could issue a letter that would allow the city to lease the building.  The nearly million-square-foot building complex (Building 5) has been unavailable to the city for leasing for more than a decade.  Other buildings on the base have been leased to the city by the Navy under what’s known as the Lease in Furtherance of Conveyance agreement, which has allowed the city to sublease the buildings until transfer of ownership. Continue reading “Word on the street about Alameda Point cleanup”

Views of wetland cleanup area to be dug up, upgraded in 2019

The Navy will implement the environmental remediation plan for Site 32 on the western end of the former airfield.  The plan calls for covering the entire 60-acre site with three free of clean soil without raising the elevation of the existing wetlands.  Thus, the existing wetlands will be excavated to a depth of three feet, and then three feet of replacement clean soil will be brought in to re-contour the wetlands.

Most of the water in the accompanying photos, taken in March 2019, is from rainwater.  However, this wetland is also low enough in elevation that it receives water via tidal pressure from the Bay. Continue reading “Views of wetland cleanup area to be dug up, upgraded in 2019”

Navy to create new wetlands

The Navy is nearing completion of plans for a cleanup area called Site 32, 60 acres that lie on the old airfield west of where the monthly Antiques Faire is held.  The site requires remediation because investigators discovered radium-226 in the soil and on various objects.  The Navy mixed radium-226, a naturally occurring mineral, with paint to allow dials and markers to glow in the dark.  Repeated exposure to high levels of radium can cause cancer.

The Navy collected radium-impacted waste, such as used paint brushes from refurbishing dials and gauges, scraping solids, and rags, from its dial painting shop on a regular basis and discarded it at the Site 1 underground dump adjacent to Site 32.  The Navy presumes that the radium-impacted items were spread beyond the dump site when the runway was expanded in the 1950s and a bulldozer was used to grade the area above the dump. Continue reading “Navy to create new wetlands”

Navy’s Cleanup Drawing Scrutiny

Recent revelations of falsified cleanup data at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco have caused many people to wonder about the integrity of cleanup at Alameda Point.  Can we trust the Navy’s reports concluding that goals have been met and land is suitable for transfer to the City?

The Navy thinks we can.  “To date, the Navy found no indication of data falsification at Alameda,” said Cecily Sabedra, Navy Environmental Coordinator for Alameda Point.

But more importantly, the rigorous and extensive testing requirements of cleanup at Superfund sites suggest that the process itself is what the public should look to for reassurance.  The data review process is exactly why a couple of employees were caught handing in fake soil samples at Hunters Point.

Groundwater cleanup is a good place to look at how the process has been working at Alameda Point, considering that is where the majority of the contamination has been.  The groundwater contamination resulted from releases of jet fuel and cleaning solvent and two leaky gas stations.  This cleanup has left the base riddled with groundwater sampling wells and injection wells used for injecting cleanup solutions or extracting pollutants. Continue reading “Navy’s Cleanup Drawing Scrutiny”

Environmental cleanup meeting tonight

Presentation will feature history of radiological cleanup

The Navy will make a presentation on the status of its radiological investigation and cleanup at the next Alameda Point Restoration Advisory Board meeting, which will be held Thursday, March 22, 2018. The meeting is open to the public and begins at 6:30 p.m. in the second floor meeting room at 950 W. Mall Square on Alameda Point.

Multiple sites became contaminated with paint waste that contained radium-226, an element used in making aircraft dials glow in the dark.

Navy contractor scanning for radiation in Building 5 hangar. Navy photo.

Continue reading “Environmental cleanup meeting tonight”

Radium-226 paint use left widespread cleanup legacy

Work ends at Building 5 where painting began

The Navy has completed the final round of inspections and cleanup of the last traces of the radioactive metal called radium-226 in Building 5 at Alameda Point.  The aircraft hangar complex is where the Navy refurbished its planes, including repainting tiny instrument dials, switches, and markers with glow-in-the-dark paint that contained radium.

Radium is a naturally-occurring element found in miniscule amounts in soil and water posing no health risk.  Its risk comes from ingesting the element regularly, such as in industrial settings.

The procedures for handling and disposing of the paint waste during the 1950s and 1960s led to costly and seemingly interminable cleanup projects once the base closed in 1997.  This affected at least five other areas at Alameda Point. Continue reading “Radium-226 paint use left widespread cleanup legacy”