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 Brownfields: Post-Industrial Alameda Tour


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Tour Stop 8
IR Site 13 - NAS Alameda
Pacific and Central Avenues


Historical Property Use

The quickest route to deep water ships was from Cohen's Wharf constructed at the foot of Pacific Avenue in 1864. It was at this site that the Pacific Coast Oil Company established an illuminating oil refinery 1879. Crude oil was transported to the site from an oil producing field in Newall near Los Angeles in the company's 60 rail tank cars. In 1895, the first steel tanker ship built on the west coast, the S.S. Loomis, delivered crude oil to the refinery's wharf. The refinery had outgrown the Alameda site and in 1901 relocated to Richmond. The Richmond refinery remains in operation under the direction of Chevron.

Construction of the US Navy carrier piers just west of IR Site 13 also took advantage of the shortest course to deep water. In 1936, the Navy began pier construction and some fill was placed at IR Site 13 to grade and surface the site. In addition to five storage tanks, the Navy constructed three separate buildings at Site 13. The engine test building is the only remaining structure. Recently the Navy has moved the fence and installed a bike path across the northeast corner of the site, and is currently using the site to store an estimated 6,000 yards of contaminated soil.


Environmental Concerns

The environmental concerns with this refinery began within a year of its construction in 1880 with reports of the impacts of water pollution on the Alameda oyster industry. Despite millions of dollars in lost tax revenue, air and water pollution were cited in early 1900 as the reasons Alamedans were glad to see the refinery make its move to Richmond.

In 1940's, the surface erupted from a buildup of gasses from decomposing refinery wastes. The Navy reportedly dug out a 30-foot by 30-foot section and replaced it with concrete.

In 1983, an investigation of soil and groundwater contamination at the site was initiated by the Navy. Limited removal of highly acid and lead contaminated soil was completed in the early 1990's.

In 1993, the US Department of Energy demonstrated an innovative laser technology for investigating petroleum contamination sites. The laser technology together with other conventional investigation techniques have not determined the extent of contamination in the eastern direction.

The site was proposed for the evaluation of an innovative soil and groundwater cleanup technology developed by a UC Berkeley professor. Community concerns about air quality impacts from this technology led to the abandonment of this strategy.

Preliminary estimates of the costs of cleanup at Site 13 are in the range of $35 to 50 million dollars. The Navy has indicated that Chevron is the liable for the cleanup, but the Navy's use of the site to store petroleum contaminated soil as well as several Navy petroleum fuel spills in and near Site 13 severely weakens this argument.

Current Property Use

The Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority's land use plan is to zone IR Site 13 for light industrial uses. A container storage business formerly operated by the Navy remains in operation on a portion of the site. Though a risk assessment of residential use has not been performed, a family with children is living in a trailer on the site.

The fence-line site was used by the Navy for storage of contaminated soils dug up from over 60 leaking underground storage tank sites. The soil piles, left at the site for over a year, were allowed to erode creating significant air and water quality impacts.

After the contaminated soil from the underground tanks was illegally disposed of in other areas of the base, a portion of Site 13 was leased to the existing storage business as a vehicle storage lot.

The City of Alameda is also using a portion of Site 13 to store the City's junked vehicles and "white trash."

This is the type of economic development you come to expect on a brownfields site. Property uses have resulted in negligible capital investment and new pollution sources are introduced to the heavily contaminated fence-line site.

City's Pride Navy's Pride
City of Alameda's Brownfield Storage Yard US Navy's Brownfield Storage Yard

Site Statistics

DEVELOPER: Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority

ACREAGE: 10 acres

INVESTIGATION STATUS: Off site contamination not defined.

CLEANUP STATUS: Limited removal of lead contaminated soil.

COST OF ASSESSMENT AND REMEDIATION: $7 million (to date estimate), $35 to 100 million (estimated to complete cleanup)


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August 24, 1999