Dust Prompts Shutdowns at Richmond’s Campus Bay By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday January 04, 2005

Repeated problems over the past two weeks have forced operational changes and three temporary shutdowns during the latest round of cleanup operations at Campus Bay, where developer Russ Pitto hopes to build a 1,330-unit housing complex atop a mound of buried industrial waste. 

State officials say the problems are under tight control, but project critics who live and work near the site are more skeptical. 

Operations involve excavation of polluted muck from Stege Marsh on the site’s bayshore margin. The marsh muck is being dried and acid neutralized with highly corrosive lime before it is shipped off to a landfill near Pittsburg.  

On Dec. 23, DTSC staff ordered crews working on the site to change the method being used to mix the lime with marsh soils because the method then being used resulted in eruptions of steam and lime that threatened to carry off site, said Angela Blanchette, spokesperson for the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, one of two agencies involved in the cleanup. 

Lime, also known as calcium oxide, both neutralizes sulfuric acid content in the dredged marsh muck and boils off water in the damp soil to levels where it can be trucked off, 100 loads a day, to the landfill. 

The acid is formed by iron pyrite ash at the site which was created in acid manufacturing that was carried on at the South Richmond site for nearly a century. 

On Dec. 29, when large clouds of steam and dust driven by high winds brought on-site dust and chemical meters near to shut-down levels mandated by the agency, local DTSC chief Barbara Cook called a halt to operations at the site. 

A second shutdown for similar reasons followed two days later. 

Claudia Carr, a UC Berkeley professor who lives in nearby Marina Bay, and Sherry Padgett, the chief financial officer of a firm located within yards of the site, said officials haven’t responded to recent complaints about conditions at the site. They are members of Bay Area Residents for Responsible Development. 

Carr recorded images of plumes rising high above the site on Dec. 23 and 29 and again Monday. 

Blanchette said that Cook and other DTSC officials were monitoring operations at the site and noticed nothing alarming on Monday.  

The DTSC has ordered more extensive monitoring for hazardous chemicals at the site, adding PCBs and four additional pesticides to the monitoring list last week. 

Blanchette said there have been problems with posting monitor results on the Campus Bay website and said her agency was working with a contractor to ensure prompt posting of results.›