Campus Bay and the UC Field Station; Let's All Work Together to
Clean It Up
I am the Chief of the Cardiology Division of Kaiser Richmond where I have worked
for 24 years, and I am a resident of Richmond. I rollerblade on the Bay Trail
between the Richmond Marina and Point Isabel. I tell my patients to exercise
there as well. I rollerblade past the Campus Bay property, a beautiful marshland,
sadly contaminated by toxic chemicals. I have been a part of the community movement
to demand a safe clean-up of this site.
The problem we are confronted with is that 237 acres of bay-front real estate
has been polluted by Stauffer Chemical, Astra Zeneca Corporation and California
Cap Company with a host of cancer causing chemicals. A fair and logical response
None of this has happened. The logical sequence
of events has in fact been reversed. No safe clean-up has been completed. Despite
this, the city and the developer were well on their way to railroad through
a high rise residential development when a local group of community residents
and workers, calling themselves BARRD, Bay Area Residents for Responsible Development
essentially forced a halt to the project and a re-evaluation. Had this articulate
and persistent citizen advocacy group not challenged the redevelopment already
in process, Richmond would possibly have a cluster of future cancers and birth
defects to deal with. Indeed, there is now suspicion that the poorly monitored
clean-up may already have resulted in preventable cancers.
- holding the polluters responsible,
up the site in as safe a way as possible to protect the workers, the local
community and the fragile wetland ecosystem,
what went wrong so that we can keep from making similar mistakes in the
- compensating any individuals who have suffered
injury as a result of the pollution,
- determining and instituting a plan for the
future use of the land which is safe and in the best interests of the greater
We cannot change the past; only learn from our past mistakes. With what we know
today all parties should be able to agree that the first order of business is
a safe clean-up of the site. I am calling on all of the involved parties to
work together toward that end.
To the developers, I wish to say, do not blame the community for delaying your
project. There can be no development without a safe clean-up. There are hundreds,
perhaps thousands of these toxic sites which need to be cleaned-up. Do the right
thing. Become known as the developer who has the expertise and experience needed
to join with the community to clean-up and safely develop these toxic sites.
You will eventually be financially rewarded for doing the right thing. You will
have earned the respect of the community and local government and you will be
seen as the model for dealing with these sites in the future.
To the Richmond Redevelopment Agency, I wish to say, your mandate is for healthy
development to benefit the Richmond community. Ignoring the health of the public,
in the pursuit of narrow financial gain is bad for the city in the long run.
Do not let your zeal to bring in revenue, blind you to the greater good of the
community. Your statements in the past have shown a total disregard for public
health. Make the health of the community your highest priority. Your job is
one of service to the community.
To the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, I wish to say, your reputation in the community
has suffered greatly from your past statements about the toxic site which were
erroneous and highly insensitive to the community. Join with the community in
putting public health before narrow business interests. Become a model for the
California State Chamber of Commerce by showing how business can make a profit
but at the same time be respectful of and give priority to public and environmental
health concerns. Right now the California Chamber is opposing legislation by
Assemblywoman Loni Hancock which would ensure better oversight of the clean-up
process of toxic dumps. Explain to your state colleagues why this is unwise
and implore them to put public and environmental health as a top priority in
It is time for all of us to join together for the greater good. No one wants
to suffer a cancer or birth defect that could have been prevented. We have all
learned a great deal from the process to date. These environmental problems
will be more common in the future and developing the skills needed to all work
together to clean them up and then to put the land to good use will make the
City of Richmond a national leader in earth restoration and redevelopment, something
our children and grandchildren will thank us for.
Jeff Ritterman, M. D.
Chief, Cardiology Division