Ocean Cleanup Project to Launch from Alameda Point

Plastic is one of the biggest threats the oceans face today.  The Ocean Cleanup organization has a plan to start cleaning it up.  It has designed and tested a floating net system that will be assembled at Alameda Point and towed out to the Pacific Ocean garbage patch this summer.

“The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest of the five offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world’s oceans,” states The Ocean Cleanup.  “It is located halfway between Hawaii and California.”

For the past two years, Ocean Cleanup has been systematically retrieving trash and analyzing the contents.  “The vast majority of plastics retrieved were made of rigid or hard polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP), or derelict fishing gear (nets and ropes particularly),” states the group.  The trash ranged in size from small fragments to larger objects and meter-sized fishing nets.  Forty-six percent of the total mass is made up of fishing nets.

The following videos from Ocean Cleanup tell the story in more detail. Continue reading “Ocean Cleanup Project to Launch from Alameda Point”

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”

Site A mixed-use construction poised to commence

City Council to consider amended development deal

On March 6, the Alameda City Council will consider a change to the stalled development deal for Site A, the mixed-use project at Alameda Point.  The proposed change would remove a restrictive condition governing the order in which construction happens.

Alameda Point Partners (APP), the developer for Site A, is requesting an amendment to its Development and Disposition Agreement.  The amendment would remove a provision that allows the city to withhold building permits for market rate units if the affordable housing subcontractor, Eden Housing, is unable to secure all of its financing.   The purpose of the current provision, called a Metering Provision, was to ensure that the affordable housing units would be built in a timely manner.  The city has approved the designs for Eden’s 70-unit family affordable complex and 60-unit senior affordable complex. Continue reading “Site A mixed-use construction poised to commence”

Great Egret fishing at Breakwater Beach

Photos of a Great Egret foraging for Yellowfin Gobies in the shallow mudflat next to Breakwater Beach at the southeast corner of Alameda Point.  After catching a Goby, the Egret would then have to fling the little fish into the air to maneuver the fish back to its mouth.  Photos are from Friday, February 9, 2018.

Continue reading “Great Egret fishing at Breakwater Beach”

Natel advances small-scale hydropower turbines

Natel, a company at Alameda Point, is developing small-scale turbines that can harness water flow to produce electricity without a dam.

Water enters white chute at bottom left and exits against the cups, forcing the conveyor to turn a generator shaft. Natel photo.

Rivers have been harnessed for the production of electricity since 1882.  That’s when the world’s first hydroelectric dam was built across the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin.  But dams are costly public works projects with negative environmental consequences, including the flooding of vast watersheds and blocking fish migration.

Natel has taken an invention from the dawn of hydropower called a Pelton Wheel and flattened it out.  Natel’s Linear Pelton hydroEngine is able to capture more of the water’s energy than the original wheel design, employing a dual series of cups on a conveyor system connected to a generator shaft. Continue reading “Natel advances small-scale hydropower turbines”

Harbor seal numbers spike during herring spawning

Alameda Point’s harbor seal population fluctuates between single digits and 50 during most of the year on the specially-built harbor seal float.  But when the Pacific herring arrive in the winter to lay their eggs, many more seals arrive to feast on the herring, causing a sudden spike.  Last winter, a spike in seal numbers to a record 70 came on January 5, 2017, in the midst of the herring run.  This winter, the herring arrived sooner, in December, and so did more harbor seals, causing a spike to a new record of 73 on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

In the brief time span since the new harbor seal float was set in place, local monitors have assumed that it was simply the colder water temperatures that enticed greater numbers of seals to use the float in the winter.  But in fact, they discovered it’s not the full story.

It turns out that dropping water temperature indeed has an effect, but the effect is on the herring.  Ideal water temperature for herring spawning is between 50 and 53.6 degrees Fahrenheit.  The water temperature at Alameda Point dropped below 54 degrees the afternoon of December 16 and continued dropping another 2.3 degrees, according to data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  This brought on the herring run and, in turn, the voracious seals.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration graph of water temperatures at Alameda Point between December 15, 2017, and January 5, 2018, with harbor seal graph added by Alameda Point Harbor Seal Monitors. Click on image to enlarge.

Continue reading “Harbor seal numbers spike during herring spawning”

Nuclear research coming to Alameda Point historic district

Tenant plans to design next-generation nuclear power plant

The underground infrastructure at Alameda Point may be old and in need of replacement, but many of the Navy’s industrial and civic buildings were built to last centuries.  One of those buildings is Building 9, a former records warehouse on West Tower Avenue right across the street from the Bladium that is rock solid and worth rehabbing.

According to developer Joe Ernst of srmErnst, the horizontal alignment of the steel superstructure has moved a mere 1.2 inches in the 77 years since it was built.  “And for all we know, it could have been off by an inch when it was built,” said Ernst.

Building 9 at 707 West Tower Avenue undergoing $24 million renovation project.

The hangar-like structure is being readied for the first tenant, Kairos Power.  Kairos will set up a laboratory to test components that will make up a new type of nuclear reactor.  No radioactive material will be handled there.  In fact, Ernst says it’s spelled out in the deed.

Continue reading “Nuclear research coming to Alameda Point historic district”