Toxic groundwater to be cleaned up using bacteria

~Lactose, veggie oil to stimulate toxic-eating bacteria

Cleanup of contaminated groundwater between Alameda Point’s Seaplane Lagoon and Main Street will begin later this year, according to the Navy.  The cleanup area is directly south of the Site A residential and commercial parcel slated for groundbreaking in a few months.  It is one of the most difficult environmental cleanup areas to remedy at Alameda Point, which is why it has taken 20 years to figure out what plan to implement.  The Navy’s contractor presented the cleanup plan at the March 9, 2017 Restoration Advisory Board meeting at Alameda Point.

A cleaning solvent called trichloroethene was used in the Navy’s industrial repair and refurbishing operations in this area.  The solvent leaked into the ground to depths of 70 feet and spread around nearly 19 acres.  Industrial activities included the Aircraft Engine Test Facility in Building 360, which is the large building next to the Main Street soccer field, along with the Engine Test Cell in Building 14, and the Ship Fitting and Engine Repair Facility in Building 162. Continue reading “Toxic groundwater to be cleaned up using bacteria”

Cleaning Up Jet Fuel at Building 5

Tanker trucks sucking jet fuel out of the ground next to Building 5. Looking northwest.


The Navy has three cleanup programs at Alameda Point:  Superfund, Petroleum, and Radiological.  The Petroleum Program takes care of underground concentrations of petroleum, mostly jet fuel, and is organized by corrective action areas.  One such area outside Building 5 made it onto the calendar this year.

Dumping jet fuel – Building 5, the largest hangar at the Point, was a busy aircraft maintenance facility.  Petroleum products like jet fuel were often disposed of down a drain, which in this case would have gone to an underground oil/water separator.  A Navy contractor concluded that jet fuel detected in test wells outside of Building 5 on the south side could have leaked either from the oil/water separator, or the drain line, or both.  The area has been designated Corrective Action Area 5B (CAA 5B). Continue reading “Cleaning Up Jet Fuel at Building 5”

Cleaning up a toxic groundwater plume using heat

Hoses carry vapors to large pipe that leads to filter system. Vapors are created using high-temp electrodes that extend 30 feet into the ground. Seaplane Lagoon and San Francisco are in background.

There are various methods to clean up groundwater contaminated with solvents and petroleum products. Beneficial chemicals can be injected to neutralize the toxic chemicals.  Sometimes bacteria, either those naturally present or some that have been added, can do the job.  In some cases at Alameda Point the Navy inserts steel beams called electrodes into the ground that are hooked up to their own power line.  They dial up the power to 1,100 amps (a household electric stove is around 40 amps), and let the heat turn the chemicals into vapor.  This is the method the Navy is using in a limited application just east of the Seaplane Lagoon. Continue reading “Cleaning up a toxic groundwater plume using heat”