Risk of toxic accidents puts Richmond housing in jeopardy

The Associated Press
Monday November 13, 2000

RICHMOND – Richmond officials claim the Navy has told them the risk of toxic accidents is significant at Point Molate, an area where the city had hoped to build an upscale housing community. 

Navy officials wouldn’t comment on the environmental report regarding the former military fuel depot until it is released in December, but members of the Point Molate Restoration Advisory Board say they’ve been told the draft recommends finding an alternative other than housing for the area. 

The city had high hopes for housing for Point Molate, but may have to settle for other developments if the Navy’s environmental assessment deems the region at risk because of its proximity to Chevron’s Richmond refinery and General Chemical Company 

“Everybody isn’t wedded to housing, but if we allow them to limit us to only industry, it’s going to be hard to redevelop the area,” said Richmond Mayor Rosemary Corbin. 

If housing was allowed at Point Molate, the Navy would likely have to spend more to clean the water and soil contamination than if the space designated for industrial use. Richmond City Councilman Alex Evans voted against the city’s housing reuse plan for Point Molate, arguing that the area had limited access. 

“Somebody find me a less suitable place for housing,” Evans said. “It’s the world’s longest, most dangerous cul-de-sac. It would just be a nightmare.” 

Point Molate consists of 419 acres of land on the northeast shoreline of San Pablo Bay. The property has several large underground storage tanks and was used as a naval fuel depot. There are several structures at Point Molate which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The land has remained unused since the Navy ceased operations there in 1995. Cleanup costs for the area through 2004 are estimated to cost the Navy $10 million annually. 

Point Molate is one of 29 former military facilities in the state in the process of being turned over to local governments.