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”

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”

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”