San Diego facing fine for dumping dirt in open lot

The Associated Press
Saturday November 25, 2000

SAN DIEGO — The city could be fined up to $25,000 a day unless officials devise a plan to keep runoff from a heap of polluted dirt from getting into a creek and Mission Bay. 

The city has violated California’s water code by dumping 63,000 cubic feet of dirt without notifying the state of plans to accept the dirt near Kearney Mesa Community Park and for not developing a plan to prevent rain runoff from carrying some of the soil down a creek and into the bay, the Regional Water Quality Control Board said. 

City officials were given until Monday to submit a report to the water board. 

“We became concerned because dumping that dirt on about 10 acres is tantamount to a construction site, and there was no evidence of statewide or city of San Diego permits, both of which require measures to prevent storm-water runoff from carrying silt and pollutants off the site,” said Art Coe, assistant executive officer of the water board. 

City officials contend that materials in the dirt won’t harm humans. 

“The soil was found to be nonhazardous, but there are some heavy hydrocarbons, such as old diesel fuel, and they would limit the areas where we could relocate and/or dispose of the soils,” said Ted Medina, deputy director of the city’s coastal parks division. 

The dumping has upset environmentalists. 

“This is typical of the city’s disregard for the Clean Water Act grading and commencing a project without public input, leaving the public out of the equation and just sort of doing what they want to do,” said Donna Frye, founder of the group STOP, or Surfers Tired Of Pollution.