Berkeley city officials said that test results for the Aquatic Park dredging spoils showed high but not hazardous lead content.
W.R. Forde, the contractor hired by the city’s Public Works Department to dredge the lagoon, was responsible for the tests.
The city’s Public Works Department dredged the lagoon at the north end of the park and unloaded the spoils along the shoreline three weeks ago without requesting a permit from the California State Water Resources Control Board.
Lauren Jensen, supervising engineer for Public Works, told the Planet Tuesday that the test results were favorable.
“The soluble threshold limit contamination, which tells you whether the contaminants will leach out of the soil, is below hazardous level,” he said. “So it’s good news. Now it will be taken to a local landfill but I don’t have a plan worked out for that yet.”
The Planet has requested a copy of the lab results from Public Works.
The project drew criticism from city officials and local environmentalists because the spoils were discarded on a popular bird-watching site and adjacent to one of the main wading-bird foraging spots.
The Sierra Club condemned the city’s decision to dredge the lagoon during migratory bird season in a letter to the state Water Board.
It demanded that the city provide the board and the public with information on whether it had adequate staff and expertise to handle the project.
“My understanding is that Berkeley is meeting at the site with a biological consultant this week to get her input on making the rest of the work more biologically friendly,” said Brian Wines, who oversees permits for Alameda County at the state water board.
Laurel Marcus Associates—the consultants hired by the city to advise the Aquatic Park subcommittee on future projects—is reviewing the potential impacts at the excavation site and the temporary placement site.
“I’ll be looking at what activities can take place at the site to improve it once the project is over,” Marcus said. “We’ve done some of the field work but we won’t comment on anything right now.”
City Manager Phil Kamlarz said that the city would carry out its own tests to determine if the sludge was toxic.
“I hope the city will test it independently and not rely on the hired contractor,” said councilmember Darryl Moore, who has demanded an explanation from the city about the project.
“Getting the sludge tested by the contractors themselves doesn’t really help.”
The approximately 30 truckloads of spoils near the Berkeley Rowing and Paddling Club have been covered by black plastic sheets and burlap bags to prepare for rain, which could wash contaminants into the water.