Regulatory Change At Field Station Will Cost $20 Million, Says UC By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday July 29, 2005

Hazardous waste cleanup operations at UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station are expected to cost the school an additional $20 million, according to a document recently posted on the university’s website. 

The reason: a change in state oversight at the university’s waterfront research facility on the south Richmond shoreline. 

That information was contained in a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) seeking an environmental consultant to help guide the process. According to the RFQ, the handover of cleanup oversight from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control is expected to result in four additional phases of cleanup. 

University officials had argued against the regulatory handover earlier this year when the Richmond City Council was debating a resolution to seek the change. 

The resolution was adopted and the transfer of oversight followed several weeks later, something sought by community activists who were unhappy with the water board’s supervision. 

University officials are currently engaged in talks that will lead to a vast new construction project at the Richmond facility that will transform the institution into an academic/corporate research park that will include 70 of the site’s 152 acres. 

The two million square feet of new office and research space projected for the future “Bayside Research Campus” is more than proposed for the entire Long Range Development Plan for the main Berkeley campus. 

Much of the contamination at the field station resulted from the site’s previous incarnation as a plant that made blasting caps from a mercury compound. Mercury compounds have been linked to a variety of ailments, ranging from fatal illnesses to severe brain damage. They are especially hazardous to unborn children. 

Other contaminants were imported into the site from the adjoining Campus Bay site, which was used for over a century for production of a wide range of chemicals, many of them dangerous, created in part from other equally hazardous substances. 

Cherokee Simeon Ventures is the owner of the Campus Bay site and has been selected by the university as the prospective developer of the Field Station. 

The firm is a joint venture of Simeon Properties, a prominent Bay Area developer, and Cherokee Investment Partners, which specializes in lending money for projects built on remediated hazardous waste sites. 

The RFQ, issued by Rob Gayle, UC’s assistant vice chancellor for capital projects, calls for prospective consultants to submit their application by Aug. 11.