From Sherry Padgett, 2/13/05: "Orange and Chartruese Water in Zeneca Marsh Pit 2/10/05"

Walked the Bay Trail southern perimeter of Zeneca/Cherokee-Simeon property, 11 a.m., Thursday, 2/10/05, with others who observed the colored water and asked if I knew what it was . . .

Will the remediated marsh be toxic orange like the Hazardous Waste ponds that are being removed?

The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board approved a cleanup plan in 2001 for the 85 acre extremely toxic Zeneca/Cherokee-Simeon site which included remediation of about 20 acres of marshland bordering the Bay Trail. The marsh is between the Upland 30 acre, 350,000 cubic yard mountain and the Bay Trail. The marsh cleanup has been described as "marsh restoration" by current property owners and developers, Cherokee-Simeon. Simply, Hazardous Waste is being dug out, down to a predetermined level, and "clean" bay mud is being trucked in to fill the cavity. Native species are being planted and the marsh is "restored".

If you walk on the Bay Trail this week, 2/14/2005, you will see the big open pit where the wretched ponds were holding Hazardous Waste just a few months ago. At the eastern end of the pit, earth moving machines are digging out extremely toxic material and trucks are hauling it up to the Upland mountain of toxic mud for transfer to trucks hauling out to dump sites. You will smell the stink of typical marsh decay mixed in with distinctive Hydrogen Sulfide and other unnamed toxins.

At the western end of the big pit along the UC Field Station property line, new "clean" bay mud is being dumped to line the hole. If you get there before they finish trucking in and spreading the "clean" bay mud, you will see orange and chartreuse-colored water moving in small rivers and settling in miniponds on the bottom of the pit. Take your camera to make a record of the color of the water accumulating in the bottom of the pit.

Is the hole being dug deep enough to remove the Hazardous Waste? How long will it take before the orange and chartreuse-colored water moves through the new "clean" bay mud and surfaces in the newly restored marsh? Is anyone at any regulatory agency, US Fish & Wildlife, Army Corps of Engineers, Bay Conservation Development Commission, Cal EPA, San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, Department of Toxic Substances Control, City of Richmond checking the remediation plan to see if original projections on depth of soil removal are sufficient to remediate the property? The original cleanup plan was developed by Levine Fricke for Zeneca and modified by Levine Fricke for Cherokee-Simeon. The SFBRWQCB approved the original cleanup plan and modifications. We have seen no stop-gaps or milestone assessments in place to allow changes to the original cleanup plan if ground conditions change from design assumptions.

The marsh remediation plan was designed based on flawed data which characterized the site as non Hazardous Waste. Now that we know the marsh is riddled and saturated with Hazardous Waste which is being hauled to a Class I Hazardous Waste Disposal Site, isnt it logical and obvious to question the adequacy of the remediation plan? Are the DTSC Toxicologists being asked to predict how long the "clean bay mud will keep the obvious remaining Hazardous Waste from moving to the surface? Is SFBRWQCB requiring testing of the bottom of the pit before the "clean" bay mud is spread out?

We are suggesting that the marsh remediation design is flawed. Three feet of "clean" bay mud layered on top of two, four, six or ? feet of Hazardous Waste is a mud mask on a problem which will surface again and again. In addition to the orange and chartreuse colored water, what other not-so-obvious toxic substances are flowing in and out of the marsh into the Bay and underground aquifer? Is the toxic water coming through the experimental permeable barrier dam holding back the 30 acre 350,000 cubic yard mountain of toxic muck in the Upland?

Is anyone with authority and expertise asking questions about the adequacy of the marsh remediation plan? If not, why not? If not, we predict we will be discussing again at length after the clean mud is in the hole and future chemical tests show toxins bubbling to the surface . . .

Sherry Padgett
Bay Area Residents for Responsible Development