Practicing for the War on the Poor
Urban Warriors Attack West End AgainAlameda City Manager Jim Flint has likened his West End gentrification plan to a Tsunami which will dislocate blue collar workers and repeople the area with affluent professionals. Flint has invited the "gansta's of capitalism" to the West End to prepare for the US Marine Corp's future role in fighting domestic battles on behalf of the rich against the poor. On March 15, 6,000 marines will wash over a toxic waste site at the Alameda Point Naval Air Station in an urban warfare exercise. Military strategist believe this training is necessary to support unsustainable economic policies, such as those promoted locally by Flint.
"The future urban center will contain a mixed population, ranging from the rich elite to the poor and disenfranchised," writes Major General Scales in Armed Forces Journal. "Day-to-day existence for most of the urban poor will be balanced tenuously on the edge collapse. Moreover, the proximity of the disenfranchised to the ruling elite provides the spark for further unrest and sporadic violence."
Flint has no authority to approve a military training exercise on Alameda Point. In September 1997 in response to community outrage over a similar military training exercise conducted at Alameda Point by Special Forces from Fort Bragg, defense regulations were developed requiring the approval of the base reuse authority before any civilian or military training could be conducted at a closed base.
In 1997, the City Manager's office was briefed about the training exercise and approved it. In other words, the regulation was developed to ensure that the decision maker in future military training exercises was someone other than the City Manager of Alameda. The reuse authority for Alameda Point never agendized or voted to approve the Urban Warrior exercise. Such a vote would require compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.
What next Flint? Martial Law?
EPA Recommends Superfund Listing
Cleanup Delays, Estuary Park CitedIn a February 26, 1999, letter the US EPA has notified recently elected California Governor Gray Davis that it is again considering the Alameda Point Naval Air Station for the Superfund National Priorities List, of the most dangerous toxic waste sites in the country. Toxic wastes in the recently closed Estuary Park; volatile and carcinogenic vinyl chloride beneath Building 5; toxic sediments poisoning marine life in the Sea Plane Lagoon, cleanup delays; recent acknowledgement of "extensive low-level radiological contamination;" and, the discovery of "significant quantities of unexploded ordnance" in a public area, prompted the EPA's recommendation.
In January 1999, Governor Davis issued a draft Corrective Action Order for Alameda Point in response to the "continuing efforts by the Navy and the Department of Defense to challenge state regulatory authority and to unilaterally dictate reduced levels of regulatory oversight." A Federal Facilities Site Restoration Agreement has not been reached between California and the Navy since negotiations began in April 1993. An agreement in principle was announced at the February RAB meeting.
The US EPA had previously recommended Alameda Point Naval Air Station for Superfund listing in 1995. At that time Governor Pee Wee Wilson considered such a designation a stigma on reuse and redevelopment and the site was not listed. In hindsight the lack of toxic waste cleanup is the most significant impedement to reuse. The only current Superfund site in Alameda County, is Lawrence Livermore National Lab.
Quotes of the Month
"An elementary school and homeless assistance housing will be located in that area."
Catellus Development Corporation commenting on how a two-acre groundwater contaminant plume will be accommodated within their proposed 200 acre development. (March 9, 1999 Alameda FISC/ANNEX RAB Meeting)
"Maybe it was charcoal from barbecues?"
US EPA trying to explain potential sources of over 5 tons of polynuclear aromatics hydrocarbons present in the top one foot of soil at Estuary Park. Samples from Estuary Park led to additional toxin sampling at North Housing. (March 2, 1999 Alameda Point RAB Meeting)
Marsh Crust Feasibility Study
Where is the Remedial Investigation?An investigation of a ten acre scrap yard at the Fleet Industrial Supply Center has led to the "marsh crust" theory. The Navy has extrapolated results from the highly contaminated scrap yard to a 727 acre former marsh. The Navy maintains that all contamination in this area is the result of industrial waste generated by pre-World War II industries operating in the area. The Feasibility Study included cleanup alternatives that were estimated to cost $0.8 to $1.2 billion dollars. The Navy recommended a no cost solution instead.
The area covered by the Feasibility Study apparently includes schools (Woodstock, Miller), childcare facilities (Woodstock Child Development, Head Start), public parks (Main Street, Woodstock, Estuary), residential housing (Navy and private residences), and privately owned industrial property (Union Pacific Railroad, Bureau of Electricity Power Plant, Alameda Gateway). No environmental sampling from these areas was considered during the Feasibility Study. No Remedial Investigation Report was ever been prepared for the entire marsh area.
The Feasibility Study prepared for the Marsh Crust ranks among the poorest quality environmental cleanup documents ever written for Alameda Point. Next draft please.
North Housing Backyards Sampled
Between Plume and Toxic ParkThe Navy reported to the Alameda RAB that additional sampling has been completed on Parcel 181 in Alameda Point's North Housing area. The Navy indicated that sample results will be available before the April RAB meeting. EJPP had requested the sampling at the February RAB meeting, the same day that results were released for October 1998 follow-up toxin sampling at Estuary Park.
EJPP believed the high levels of carcinogenic polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons recently reported in Estuary Park may extend into adjacent housing areas. EJPP was also concerned that the boundaries of the FISC/ANNEX groundwater plume beneath North Housing has never been determined.
Sandwiched between the extensively contaminated Estuary Park and the several acre FISC/ANNEX groundwater plume, the Coast Guard is currently spending millions of dollars rehabilitating 300 25-year-old Navy housing units. About 15 percent of the North Housing units are currently occupied. The remainder are in different stages of remodeling. Current groundwater conditions indicate that benzene represents a significant risk to some current residents through the indoor air inhalation pathway.
A Feasibility Study for the Marsh Crust and Groundwater indicates that no cleanup of groundwater will be proposed. This analysis was the result of a beneficial use study and groundwater modeling report that contain speculative and inaccurate assumptions. The February 1999 soil and groundwater sampling at Parcel 181 is anticipated to undermine these studies, and begin to illustrate the tremendous impact that former Navy operations continue to have on water quality in San Francisco Bay.
HAZWOPER Workers in the Sun
No Tan Lines at Alameda PointThe March 3, 1999, message to the Navy was brief. When you use untrained workers to perform environmental assessment and cleanup work you send the wrong message to the community about your commitment to public safety.
Nylon shorts and tennis shoes where the personal protective equipment used by a hazardous waste operations worker during aquifer testing at the Site 5 Treatability Study. Site 5 contains vinyl chloride concentrations in groundwater which exceed 200 µg/L.
These untrained employees appear to be associated with the same contractors who previously performed a treatability study at Site 1 - West Beach Landfill. At Site 1 workers were seen wearing shorts and open-toed shoes. Unexploded ordnance was later discovered 50 feet away from the treatability study work area.
Atlantic Ave. Route of Exposure
Toxics Driven to Residential AreaTruck drivers hauling 'hazardous" from Navy cleanup programs have taken a liking to Hometown Donut's $4.95 lunch specials. Hometown Donuts is located at the former entrance to the Alameda Point Naval Air Station and is the only remaining West End retail establishment. Unfortunately, the supporters of this local business are stopping for lunch on their way out of the base with 23 ton loads of toxic waste in their trucks. Residents have constantly complained about toxic waste haulers parking in a residential area.
When following required Superfund public participation requirements the Navy has agreed not to park toxic wastes next to West End residents. The Navy has ignored repeated public request to follow public participation requirements. Instead, trucks hauling contaminated soil park along Atlantic Avenue, Main Street and in the Parking Lot of a public park. The heavy police presence in the Hometown Donuts area does not deter this illegal hauling of toxic wastes.
Philippine Bases among Worst of US Military AutrocitiesDelegates from the Philippines were in Alameda March 8, 1999, to request assistance in pressuring the US Government for cleanup of toxic wastes abandoned at the Clark Air Force Base and Subic Naval Base in Luzon. The People's Campaign for US Base Cleanup provided a slide show that demonstrated the devastating effects of US Military Toxics on Filipinos. The US Military is evading its responsibility for the public health damage and threat it has left in the former Philippine bases. The contamination of the base lands poses several substantive threats. Without documentation to guide the development of these properties, the Philippine government embarked on a massive redevelopment plan exposing individuals and construction workers to potentially dangerous levels of toxic contamination. A refugee center for victims of the Mount Pinatubo eruption, located atop of a former motor pool on the former Clark Air Base is already reporting an alarming increase in still births, miscarriages, rashes and gastric ailments. Health for All Survey revealed this November, 1998 that dust and poor water quality are associated with disparate and high levels of health problems in communities closest to the base. On April 1, 1999, call the State Department at (202) 647-4000 and tell them Toxic Waste in No Joke. Ask for US plans for toxic waste cleanup in the Philippines. Get it in writing.
Question Authority - Post Adequate Warning SignsIn January, the US Navy installed new signs near the two entrances to the former base. The signs read "Safety hazards may be present." The reality is that safety hazards are present at Alameda Point . It would be entirely more effective if the warning signs were placed near the location of each of these identified safety hazards. Better signage would eliminate the need for the public to guess where safety hazards are present. Contact a member of the Base Cleanup Team and demand that toxic waste sites, leaking underground storage tank sites and radioactive release sites be posted with warnings signs in English, Spanish, Tagalog, Mandarin, Eritrian, and international warning symbols.
- Steve Edde, Navy Program Coordinator, email@example.com
- Lyn Suer, US Environmental Protection Agency, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Anne-Marie Cooke, US Environmental Protection Agency, email@example.com
- Mary Rose Cassa, California Environmental Protection Agency, MCASSA@HW1.cahwnet.gov
The Environmental Justice Progress Report is the newsletter of West End Concerned Citizens (WECC). WECC has been monitoring the toxic cleanup planning process at the Alameda Point Naval Air Station (NAS) since 1995. Our community members have become increasingly frustrated at the lack of response to the public's concerns, the inadequate information provided to the public, and the lack of opportunities for the public to participate in the decision making process.
To receive a free copy of the this monthly report of for more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.