The Berkeley Skate Park, quiet for months after toxics were found at the site, filled again with skaters this past weekend.
The West Berkeley park opened Saturday without much ceremony after a six-month closure due to the discovery of the carcinogen hexavalent chromium, or chrome 6, in the basins of the park’s skate bowls.
The concrete facility has been cleaned and city officials said they are convinced the contaminated water plume below the park will not infiltrate the park’s skate bowls during the dry weather months, according to a press release from the Department of Parks and Waterfront.
The park was heavily used over the weekend, said Lisa Caronna, director of the Department of Parks and Waterfront. “It was a little quiet on Saturday when we opened the park, but as word got out usage was back to normal on Sunday,” she said.
The chrome 6 plume is about four blocks long and three blocks wide. The source of the contamination is an engraving shop about three blocks east of the skate park, which is located at 5th and Harrison streets.
The city recently approved $55,000 to contract with a Geomatrix Consultants Inc., a geotechnical consulting firm, to determine how contaminated water penetrated the skate bowls after the city went to great expense to avoid such an occurrence.
“We intend to make the park as safe as possible,” Caronna said. “The city still feels like this is one of the best designed parks in the Bay Area and our goal is to maximize use of the facility in a way that is safe for all users no matter how big or how small.”
Contamination problems have plagued the skate park since its excavation in November 1991. Groundwater pooled in the bottom of the nine-foot-deep bowls as they were dug. The water tested positive for chrome 6 and construction was halted while the city pumped out the groundwater, stored it in tanks, treated and then appropriately disposed of it.
In addition, a park redesign was required to prevent future invasions of contaminated water. The mitigation sent the cost of the park from $380,000 soaring to $850,000.
The park opened to rave reviews from local skate boarding magazines in September 2002. But four months later, the city discovered low levels of chrome 6 in the bowls after a severe rainstorm. The park was immediately closed.