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Volume 41, May 2001

Table of Contents

Silent Spring at Alameda Point
Banned Pesticide found in Military Housing Areas

Sampling conducted by the US Navy in the North Housing Area of Alameda Point during April 2001 has reportedly discovered soil contaminated by chlordane. This discovery should be immediately followed with on-going monitoring of indoor air quality in all occupied housing at Alameda Point.

Chlordane was widely used to combat termites by the US Navy. The Department of Defense (DOD) banned the use of chlordane in military housing in 1980, and eight years later, in 1988, the US EPA made a domestic ban on treating structures with chlordane. Chlordane was one of the chemicals featured in Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring which detailed the unintended health and environmental consequences of chlorinated chemicals like DDT and chlordane. Scientific studies have shown that Chlordane greatly increases the ability of other chemicals to disrupt hormones. (see SCIENCE Vol. 272 (June 7, 1996), pgs. 1489-1492).

DOD's problem with chlordane was first identified in 1978 when several families living in military housing developed symptoms of chlordane exposure. Residents were exposed to Chlordane by breathing the air inside their residences. Chlordane which was applied as a "soil drench" prior to housing construction had found its way into the indoor air of residences through the heating and ventilation systems. For a typical "soil drench" treatment, 1,000 square feet of soil was treated with 100 gallons of chlordane.

The Navy's handbook for basic architectural requirements, continued to recommend the use of chlordane as a termiticide in 1992, well after the 1980 DOD and 1988 EPA domestic ban. The architectural requirements did however prohibit new construction that had ventilation ducts in a crawl space or below a slab. For existing housing with these prohibited features, a monitoring system was to be implemented to ensure no occupant health risk until the ducting and ventilation system renovations were completed.

High levels of chlordane were first found in soil samples collected from Alameda Point in 1995. The Navy did not report this contamination discovery as required by federal law, and the EPA was not aware of the chlordane contamination until Clearwater Revival Company called it to the EPA's attention for a second time in August 2000 (the first time was in October 1997).

50 Trees Planted at Contaminated Soccer Field
Did Volunteers Violate Superfund Laws? Spread Contamination?

Toxic Waste Site 4 boundaries include the Main Street Soccer Field. The decision to build the Soccer Field at this location was approved because regulators felt that the existing soccer fields at the College of Alameda, contained similar contamination. Should children be playing soccer at Site 4? Should volunteers be planting trees in contaminated soil?

When the Coast Guard constructed "Clover Playground" at Toxic Site 26, the Navy prepared a Superfund document entitled Time Critical Removal Action. Trained employees, subject to a medical monitoring program, conducted the soil excavation. The contaminated soil that was excavated was hauled off the site. The Navy's basis for this removal action was that the soil's concentration of carcinogenic Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs as benzo(a)pyrene equivalents) exceeded 0.6 parts-per-million (ppm).

Site 4 soil samples also exceeded 0.6 ppm of PAHs. Why were the precautions taken at Site 26 during playground construction, not taken at Site 4 when trees were planted in contaminated soil at the Soccer Field? Was that your four year old playing in the pile of excavated soil last weekend?

Mature Fir Tree Deaths Potential Symptom of Contamination
Trees Felled at Suspected Parade Ground Dump Site

A growing number of mature fir trees have died and been removed from Parcel 62. Parcel 62 is a parade ground located north of the former Navy administration building that currently houses City Hall West. As reported in a previous edition of EJPP, this site is suspected dumping area for contaminated stormwater removed from hazardous waste storage areas (see December 2000 EJPP). Oxygen depleted groundwater, a condition that exists on contaminated sites, is a known cause of Fir trees deaths.

Quote of the Month

"Scientists consider chlordane a health threat surpassing cigarettes and radon."

Dr. Wayne Sinclair believes millions of adults and children are becoming sick by living in houses built before April 1988, because the toxic pesticide chlordane contaminates the air of over 30 million homes. Symptoms include child cancers, neuroblastoma, leukemia, infections, bronchitis, asthma, sinusitis, infertility, neurological disorders, aggression and depression. Dr. Sinclair cites the results of numerous toxicological studies to support his findings.

Alameda Sailors Killed by Friendly Fumes

The last Monday in May, Memorial Day, provides a holiday in recognition of those who died in uniform in the service of their country. On September 16, 1986, two uniformed seamen were found dead in a chemical storage room of the USS Enterprise, a nuclear aircraft carrier then stationed at the former Alameda Naval Air Station. Their deaths highlight the importance of hazardous materials training, and the inherent danger posed by the chemicals used by the US Navy.

Question Authority
"Why are samples of the air inside military housing at Alameda Point not being collected right now?"

The Navy, Cal-EPA and US EPA are well aware of indoor air contamination problems that plague housing at Alameda Point. Now in addition to demanding follow-up testing for benzene and naphthalene, a demand should be made to have indoor air tested for chlordane. Contact the Navy, Cal-EPA, the US EPA and the City of Alameda. Ask them: "Why are samples of the air inside military housing at Alameda Point not being sampled right now?"

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.

April 2001 Edition
May 14, 2001