weccAd Info
 Alameda Point: Environmental Justice Progress Report

EJ Progress Report

About EJPP

2001 EJPP Archives

2000 EJPP Archives

1999 EJPP Archives

1998 EJPP Archives

1997 EJPP Archives

Alameda Point

Toxic Maps

Radioactive Sites

Leaking Tanks


Home Page




Volume 40, April 2001

Table of Contents

Hollywood brings Lights, Camera, Pollution to Alameda Point
Warner Brother's Matrix 2 set Epitomizes bad Environmental Practices

If you thought most of the garbage produced by Hollywood was found on video tape you haven't seen Alameda Point's newest tenant. Warner Brother's sequel, Matrix 2, is estimated to produce 75,000 cubic yards of solid waste from demolition of a 3-mile freeway set constructed on a former Navy runway. In constructing the set Warner Brothers has also violated local, state and federal environmental laws for hazardous material storage, stormwater pollution prevention, employee training and Proposition 65 Notifications.

As reported in the Community's Reuse Plan Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the demolition of former Navy buildings threatens the City of Alameda's compliance with state and county solid waste diversion requirements. The 75,000 cubic yards of waste produced demolishing the 3-mile freeway set on a former runway at the Alameda Point Superfund Site will add 5% to the total volume of solid waste generated by demolition activities. While the EIR indicated that a large percentage of solid waste from demolition could be diverted from landfills, land-filling has been the only waste management practice used by Hollywood tenants at Alameda Point. If the City continues to ignore its responsibility to divert solid waste from landfills, Alamedan's can expect to see significantly higher garbage bills.

The City of Alameda recently spent $9,000 training employees about stormwater regulations in response to a Water Board Order following past City Violations. Despite this the City failed to notify Warner Brothers that a permit from the Water Board was required for set construction. Warner Brothers proceeded without a permit, and constructed an illegal unlined drainage ditch through contaminated soil. The excavated contaminated soil was illegally stored 200 feet away from the City's Skateboard Park for several weeks. The Water Board has initiated enforcement action against Warner Brothers.

Residents of Alameda have criticized Alameda Power and Telecom for the air pollution created by four diesel generators used during rolling blackouts. At the same time Warner Brother's has been operating dozens of diesel generators at Alameda Point. Not to mention the emissions created by installing 800,000 square of asphalt on the freeway set.

Back at Building 400 where much of the freeway set was fabricated hazardous material drums, many unlabeled and open, have emitted foul odors for months. A water leak at Building 400 has raised contaminated groundwater to the surface where it runs through a parking lot and into a nearby storm drain.

All employers at the Alameda Point Superfund site are required by state and federal occupational health and safety laws to train employees in safe handling of hazardous materials. In addition, each employer is required to provide a hazard communication program to ensure all employees are notified of any hazardous materials they are exposed to at the workplace, including contamination left behind by the US Navy. Hard to believe that Warner Brothers provided this training to the hundreds of extras, crew and caterers working on this set.

City's Daily Water Code Violations Continue at Alameda Point
Despite Previous Warnings, Fines, Its Dumping as Usual

Every time the City of Alameda mishandles contaminated soil and groundwater at the Alameda Point Superfund Site they increase the City's potential liability for cleanup (see Kaiser vs. Catellus, June 2000 EJPP). Despite this liability, and past fines, the City Manager and Public Works Director have either directed employees to violate environmental laws, or they have failed to adequately supervise employees to prevent ongoing violations of environmental laws. The City Manager and Public Works Director should be held criminally accountable for the unnecessary exposure of Alameda residents to a wide range of carcinogens.

City mismanagement has abandoned hazardous waste alongside city streets, dumped hazardous waste in city parks and failed to prevent contamination of storm water when contaminated soils were stockpiled in the Officer Club parking lot

Unlabeled and open drums
containing City hazardous waste
were abandoned alongside Main Street
Potentially contaminated soil
uncovered in Soccer Field parking lot.

These sand bags did little
to remove sediment from storm water
Holes poked through this
filter fabric rendered it useless

Not Feasible to Comply with City's Marsh Crust Ordinance
Excavated Crust has Pancake Batter Consistency

The City has been unable to comply with its marsh crust ordinance because the marsh crust has a pancake batter-like consistency when excavated. The Marsh Crust Ordinance prohibits stockpiling of excavated marsh crust contamination unless a significant investment is made in sampling, health and safety, and independent professional monitoring. (For more info on the marsh crust ordinance click here).

Stockpiling marsh crust soils has proved impossible due to the soils liquid state. The City of Alameda left the marsh crust pancakes uncovered to dry the soils. This action violates Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) prohibitions on aerating contaminated soil. BAAQMD requires soils containing the marsh crust contaminants be securely covered at all times.

Since stockpiling pancake batter is impossible, and bulk containers are not available for these semi-liquid/semi-solid soils, the Marsh Crust Ordinance is impossible to comply with. A new and protective remedy should be developed for the Marsh Crust contamination.

City of Alameda contractor, A&B Construction, poured this marsh crust soil into the parking lot of the Officer's Club. The contractor transported the marsh crust soil in a dump truck that leaked along Main Street. The contaminated soil was then left uncovered in violation of air pollution control and stormwater pollution prevention regulations.

Quote of the Month

"The Navy took a closer look at the data and found a lack of PAH data for the Newer Marina Village Coast Guard Housing and West Housing area."

Michael McClelland, US Navy, explaining that sampling of housing areas will begin in April. The sampling has been repeatedly requested in comments on the Marsh Crust Proposed Plan and Feasibility Study during the last two years. The Marsh Crust Theory was contrived by concluding that PAH sampling results from a ten acre area are representative of over 700 acres of surrounding property. PAH Contamination was later found in the North Housing area after repeated community requests for sampling there. If the Navy had taken a closer look at comments from community members, this sampling would have been completed two years ago.

AP&T Illegally disposes of Wastes at Base Again - Action defies both Navy and Regulatory Agency Directives

On March 29, 2001, Alameda Power and Telecom pumped contaminated groundwater from a man-hole at Toxic Waste Site 26 that is labeled "DANGER, FLAMMABLE GASES, DO NOT ENTER" directly into a nearby storm drain. Three years earlier on April 5, 1998, the same public agency did the exact same thing at the exact same location.

According to the September 3, 1998 Navy letter addressing the earlier incident, the Navy warned the City of Alameda about the groundwater and soil contamination at Site 26 . In fact the Navy issued a permit to the City on April 3, 1998 that required that water be treated as a hazardous waste. According to September 1, 1998, RAB meeting minutes the Navy contacted the City of Alameda and the utility was informed about requirements for properly managing contaminated groundwater that enters utility man-holes.

The illegal discharge observed on March 29, 2001, therefore was not a result of the City of Alameda being unaware of the contamination at Site 26 or being unaware of regulations governing the proper disposal of contamination. This illegal discharge was done with full knowledge that environmental regulations were being violated, with a complete disregard for public health, and solely to avoid disposal cost that were misappropriated on the City by the Navy's own environmental mismanagement.

Alameda Power and Telecom's contractor, California Communications, dug through contaminated soil at Toxic Waste Site 13 to install a new cable. The city's contractor thought it was appropriate to leave the contaminated and potentially acidic soil at the base of this telephone pole.

Question Authority - "Why is the City of Alameda not capable of complying with environmental laws?"

The jury is in. The City Manager and Director of Public Works are responsible for spreading contamination throughout Alameda Point. The City has been fined, talked to, and trained. There are no remaining excuses for the City of Alameda's daily violation of worker health and safety requirements, hazardous waste laws, stormwater pollution prevention and air quality laws. Regulatory agencies need to know that there is no excuse for the enforcement records of the US Navy, US EPA, and Cal-EPA. Ask them: "Why is the City of Alameda not capable of complying with environmental laws?"

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 ejpp@toxicspot.com.

March 2001 Edition
April 28, 2001