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 Brownfields: Post-Industrial Alameda Tour


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Tour Stop 7
Chipman School
401 Pacific Avenue


Historical Property Use

Clark & Sons Pottery Works was relocated from Sacramento to Alameda in 1886. In 1894, the annual production rate was 750,000 fire bricks and one million feet of sewer pipe, conduit pipe and drain tile. Clay was brought to the works by rail and fired in kilns that used crude oil, wood and coal.

Fires at the facility in 1919 and 1928 required the plant to be substantially rebuilt. The number of clay kilns increased during this time from 10 to 24. The plant was actively operated until 1949. During the 1950's the plant was gradually demolished.

Environmental Concerns

During the period of the Clark & Sons pottery works operation a large volume of crude oil was stored in underground and above ground storage tanks, the largest having a capacity of 200,000 gallons. A potential exists that the soils and groundwater at the site are contaminated.

The large fuel volumes and types of fuels used indicate that the facility likely produced ash as a solid waste. Ash from coal and crude oil often contains elevated levels of metals and unburned hydrocarbons.

Current Property Use

Ground breaking for Chipman School, named for one of Alameda's founding fathers, began in 1965 and the school was formerly dedicated in 1967. Several building additions to the school have been performed, the most recent occurring in 1994. Each of the buildings is located in an area used by Clark and Sons to store finished pipe. The school's play-ground sits atop the former oil storage and manufacturing area.

The school did require closure from 1989 to 1990 to perform removal of asbestos containing materials used in the school's construction.

Lessons Learned - Special Land Uses

Sensitive populations (children, seniors and the disabled) are usually considered especially at risk to health impacts caused by environmental pollution. In cases where residual contamination remains at a property, uses such as schools, senior care facilities, and hospitals are often forbidden.

Though chemical contamination at Chipman School has never been investigated, chemical contamination has been investigated at other Alameda public schools which contained underground storage tanks or were suspected of being located on contaminated property.

The decision to construct Chipman School at this location was likely due to an inexpensive property cost and was likely made without any thought to the environmental condition of the property.

What to Look For

The nearly complete asphalt surface at the site serves as a barrier to prevent direct exposure to potentially contaminated soil.

The buildings in Woodstock Park behind the school were originally the social hall and laundry rooms for a trailer park located at the site before and during WWII and are now used for park and recreation operations.

Site Statistics

DEVELOPER: Alameda Unified School District

ACREAGE: 8 acres


CLEANUP STATUS: Asbestos removal



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August 24, 1999