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Rain causes paint runoff

By Juliet Leyba Daily Planet Staff
Wednesday November 22, 2000

The rainy weather on Tuesday washed several coats of paint off a building near University and Oxford streets and into nearby storm drains and gutters alarming nearby business owners and passersby. 

Jim Lee, manager of UC Berkeley’s Central Garage, said the roof of the building was painted white yesterday afternoon after extensive work was completed to repair several leaks. 

“We have been in the process of correcting some safety issues and the roof was the first step,” Lee said. “I guess we corrected the leaky roof but created a whole other problem.” 

The building is used to store the university’s shuttle buses and house several administrative offices.  

Emergency crews from the city’s toxics division, along with the Berkeley Fire Department and university workers threw sandbags down and began pumping up the contaminated water, but not before several hundred gallons of it emptied into two nearby storm drains. 

“There’s no way to stop it at this point,” Daniel Akagi civil engineer for the city said. “ It’s going straight into the bay.” 

According to Michael Vernon, manager of Blue’s Roofing Company, the acrylic paint is non toxic and is used for aesthetic reasons. Nabil Al Hadithy, head of the city’s toxics division, confirmed that the paint was not toxic, but noted, however, that the city has ordinances that prohibit dumping anything but water down storm drains. 

When asked if the university then would be fined for dumping, Al Hadithy explained that the university is not answerable to the city, but is under that direct control of the Bay Area Water Quality District.  

Had the district had sufficient personnel on hand, it would have overseen the clean up. Since it did not, the city stepped in, Al Hadithy explained. 

Vernon of the roofing company, explained that the paint needed 48 hours to dry and that his company had not known that it was going to rain. 

“It’s unfortunate that this happened. This is the price we pay for working in the (fall).” 

Vernon also said that the job was an “emergency type” of repair and that the university had called them at the last minute.  

Jim Lee of the Central Garage said that they had been told to make the repairs before the end this year or face a possible shut down. 

“I wish Blue’s Roofing would have used a little better judgment. They could have waited another day or two.” 

Vernon said that his company will have to re-do the roof when the weather clears and hopes that next time there won’t be any rain. “If people would take care of their roofs in the summer things like this wouldn’t happen,” he said.