Tom Butt
  E-Mail Forum – 2016  
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  Toxic PCB Soils Dumped in Point Richmond With No Permit
September 29, 2016

Without informing the City of Richmond and without applying for the required grading permit, Wareham Development dumped hundreds of tons of PCB-contaminated soils excavated from a site in Emeryville onto a vacant lot owned by Wareham in Point Richmond within only a few hundred feet of homes and Washington School.

The dumping appears to be a conspiracy that may involve the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, the Bay Area Water Quality Control Board, the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) and Wareham.

This is reminiscent of the huge pile of soil deposited on the Bottoms Property next to Seacliff Drive at Brickyard Cove several years ago incompetently supervised by DTSC in violation of a permit for a relatively minor amount of grading. The soil formed a high flat-topped pad so large an d so high that they said it could be “seen from space.” Locals dubbed it the “extraterrestrial landing site.” Ultimately, the property owner was required to remove it entirely.

Piles of toxic soil dumped in Point Richmond

Danger warning signs indicate contamination with PCBs

Wareham has made unsubstantiated representations that the soil “does not pose a risk to the school or to surrounding residences” and that it is “under the supervision of EPA, State, and an Environmental Consultant.” However, the Mitigation Negative Declaration for the site of origination, Emerystation West at the Emeryville Transit Center Project indicates the soil came from a PCB contaminated former Westinghouse transformer facility “Historically, Westinghouse conducted operations on the EmeryStation West building site that included maintenance and repair of electrical equipment such as transformers containing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) fluids.”

The documents states that the material will be “transported off-site to a permitted landfill for disposal,” and “The excavated materials would be shipped to appropriately licensed and permitted facilities. PCB-contaminated soil would be shipped to landfills permitted to accept PCB-contaminated waste.”

Instead, it was dumped in Richmond. Richmond has enough of its own contamination and does not need to become a dumping ground for contaminated soils from other cities. Emeryville took Pixar (formerly in the Wareham Point Richmond complex)away from us and sent us contaminated soil in  return.

Unfortunately, Richmond has gained a sort of “wild-west” reputation where the word on the street is that permits are not required and codes are not enforced. Whether it is a building project, a grading project or a marijuana farm, you do the work first and then negotiate a permit if you get caught, which is usually unlikely.

I will be pursuing changes to the Richmond Municipal Code that will mandate rigorous penalties and fines for grading and building without proper permits.