Thanks to leadership at the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board), Chevron Corporation will be cleaning up residual petroleum at a former refinery site it once owned at Alameda Point.
The true extent of the contamination is unknown, which is why Chevron is first taking soil samples at 43 spots around the open field next to the self-storage business near the intersection of West Oriskany Avenue and Skyhawk Street. The investigation work was announced in a Work Notice/Fact Sheet from the Regional Water Board. Work began on May 15 and will continue until May 26. Their findings will provide the basis for a cleanup plan.
The petroleum cleanup site was put on the shelf until now because the Navy and the City figured that it was not causing any harm, therefore nothing had to be done until a developer purchased the lot. The Regional Water Board, which has sole regulatory authority over petroleum cleanup, instead wanted to close the books on this outstanding cleanup site.
Continue reading “Chevron to clean up buried tar at old refinery site”
The Navy is seeking new members to serve on its volunteer Restoration Advisory Board (RAB), which reviews and comments on environmental cleanup of the former Navy base. The Navy is also conducting an online community survey to better understand the interests and concerns about the environmental cleanup at the base.
Despite all the new construction at Alameda Point, there are still a variety of cleanup issues for the Navy and regulators to address. Some issues are new, some involve the long-term monitoring of sites that maxed out the active remediation methods and now rely on natural biological degradation of the remaining contaminant. And sometimes ongoing monitoring results show that the remediation has not sufficiently reduced a contaminant. This leads to follow-up work plans, which are vetted by the RAB.
Continue reading “Navy recruiting volunteers for Alameda Point cleanup board”
A recently released Navy document reveals that an implausible last-minute health-risk theory killed the Navy’s plan for upgrading and expanding wetlands at Alameda Point where a regional park is planned (“Navy To Create New Wetlands,” Jan. 3, 2019).
A 60-acre cleanup site, known as Site 32, was on track to include 15 acres of seasonal wetlands, along with a doubling of watershed drainage into the wetlands. The regulatory agencies overseeing cleanup — namely, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Regional Water Board, and Department of Toxic Substances Control — had signed off on the plan in 2018. But nothing has been done since the tons of clean soil for the project were delivered there in 2019.
A support agency, the CA Department of Public Health (CDPH), interjected claims that trees, other vegetation, and burrowing animals could compromise the proposed soil cover underneath the 15 acres of proposed new wetlands, exposing people and animals to radiological contaminants from paint residue on scattered objects that have been buried there for 65 years.
Continue reading “Navy Forced to Destroy Wetlands at Alameda Point”
A liquid solvent that is able to dissolve other substances can run, but it can’t hide from investigators, even 20 feet below ground. A toxic cleaning solvent called trichloroethane (TCE) was used to degrease metal parts in industrial operations at the Navy’s aircraft repair facility. When this solvent leaks into soil and groundwater, as it did in Building 5 at Alameda Point, the odorless vapors can cause cancer and other ill health effects to occupants of buildings above as it evaporates.
The actual process of cleaning up the contamination, while time-consuming, is not the real problem. The real challenge is finding it, measuring it, and calculating what the safe cleanup level is for future use of the building, in this case commercial. Continue reading “Decades-long groundwater solvent cleanup completed at Building 5”
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”
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”
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”