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Corporation Yard cited for second time

By John Geluardi Daily Planet staff
Wednesday May 23, 2001

The city toxics division issued the city Corporation Yard its second notice in two years for stormwater violations and Department of Public Works officials say they are taking steps to permanently correct the errors. 

“It’s been a problem,” said Deputy Director of the Department of Public Works Patrick Keilch. “But this is something the whole city faces, which is how to keep sediment and particulates out of the storm drains.” 

The Toxics Management Division issued the notice to the Corporation Yard, located at 1326 Allston Way on May 7 for a lack of runoff protection near a storm drain on the southwest corner of the yard. Responding to a complaint, a TMD inspector noticed that sediment from stored materials such as asphalt, concrete and broken sewer pipes was being collected by rainwater and flowing into the storm drain, according to a TMD Notice of Violation. 

The notice said the material in the runoff was a violation of the Berkeley Municipal Code, the State Porter-Cologone Act and the federal Clean Water Act. 

The Corporation Yard, which is used for the storage of DPW equipment, vehicles and materials, received similar notices from the TMD in 1995 and another in 1999.  

“These violations aren’t heinous but this has been an issue with the Corporation Yard for some time,” said Geoffery Fiedler, the hazardous waste specialist who issued the notice, “and not a lot has been done to correct the problem.” 

Fielder agreed that the problem of particulate matter getting into storm drains is a citywide problem. “According to the Berkeley Municipal Code, only clear water and leaves are allowed in the storm drains,” he said. “And there are violations of the code at most construction sites as well as many other businesses and even most residences.” 

Keilch said DPW has taken measures in the past to correct the problem but they have apparently not been successful. He said Corporation Yard staff had already scheduled meetings with the TMD to correct some of the problems at the time they received the notice.  

The TMD issued the notice of violation to the Corporation Yard after receiving complaints from Community Environmental Advisory Commissioner  

LA Wood.  

“The city is asking businesses to be more conscious of what they put into storm drains. It didn’t seem right for the city to look the other way while the Corporation Yard violated the Federal Clean Water Act,” he said. 

Keilch said that since receiving the notice, the Corporation Yard has taken steps to solve the problem once and for all. The storm drain in question has been temporally covered with a metal sheet and asphalt until a “high tech” filter can be installed. 

“We’re planning to install a high tech catch basin filter system like the one at the Civic Center that catches particulates from the parking lot,” Keilch said. “It’s relatively inexpensive and will only have to be cleaned three or four times a year.” 

Keilch estimated the cost would be between $200 and $400 for the system and another $200 a year for cleaning and maintenance. 

Keilch said other measures that will be implemented at the yard include covering five 6-foot-high storage bins near the drain with canopies to prevent rainwater from washing off sediments and particulates from stored materials. 

Keilch said that DPW crews are also no longer temporarily storing work-site refuse materials, such as broken sewer pipes, on the yard. He said throwaway materials are going directly from work sites to a licensed disposal area in Richmond. 

“We want to take responsibility for this problem,” Keilch said. “We are aware of the problem and we’re happy to address it.”