Going nuclear - Page 2

Legislators demand better cleanup plans for a radioactive shipyard dump
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Radioactive waste was disposed
of at Parcel E-2

"That's when regulatory agencies decide what the clean up should be, whether that's a dig and haul, a cap, or a mix of the two, " Cohen explained.

TRUCKS OR TRAINS?

Part of the Navy's concern is the expense of trucking the toxic waste from San Francisco to a secure landfill elsewhere — someplace designed to contain this sort of material (and someplace less likely to have earthquakes that could shatter a cap and let the nasty muck escape).

David Gavrich and Eric Smith say the Navy is looking at the wrong solution. Gavrich, founder of the shipyard-based Waste Solutions Group and the San Francisco Bay Railroad, which transports waste and recyclables, and Eric Smith, founder of the biodiesel-converting company Green Depot, who shares space with Gavrich and a herd of goats that help keep the railyard surrounding their Cargo Way office weed-free, say the military solution is long-haul diesel trucks. But, he observes, the waste could be moved at far less cost (and less environmental impact) if it went by train.

Saul Bloom, executive director of Arc Ecology, a nonprofit that specializes in tracking military base reuse and cleanup operations, would also like to see the landfill removed, even though he's not sure about the trucks vs. train options.

"We don't have confidence about having a dump on San Francisco Bay," Bloom said. "I'm concerned about the relationship between budgetary dollars and remediation of the site. I'm concerned that the community's voice, which is saying they'd like to see the landfill removed, is not being heard."

Mark Ripperda of EPA's Region 9 told us that community acceptance is important, but a remedy must also be evaluated using nine specific criteria.

"A remedy must first meet the threshold criteria," Ripperda said. "If it passes the threshold test, then it is evaluated against the primary balancing criteria and finally the modifying criteria are applied."

Noting that he has not received any communication from either the Assembly Members or the Mayor's Office concerning the Parcel E-2 cleanup, Ripperda said that "the evaluation of alternatives considered rail, barge, and truck transport, with rail being the most favorable transportation mode for the complete excavation alternative. However, the waste would still be transported and disposed into a landfill somewhere else and the alternatives must be evaluated under all nine criteria."

Ripperda said it's feasible to remove the worst stuff — the "hot spots" — and cap the rest. "A cap will eliminate pathways for exposure and can be designed to withstand seismic events," he told us. "The landfill has been in place for decades and the groundwater data shows little leaching of contaminants."

Meanwhile Newsom has tried to redirect the problem to Ammiano, Ma, and Yee, saying he seeks their "active support in directing even more state and federal funds" toward cleaning up the shipyard. He made clear he wants to move the redevelopment project forward — now.

Sen. Mark Leno is carrying legislation that includes a state land swap vital to the city's plans to allow Lennar Corp. to build housing and commercial space on the site.

But while Cohen claims the aim of the land trade is to "build another Crissy Field," some environmentalists worry it will bifurcate the southeast sector's only major open space. They also suspect that was the reason Leno didn't sign Ammiano's April 1 letter.

Leno says that omission occurred because Sacramento-based lobbyist Bob Jiroux, who Leno claims drafted the letter, never asked Leno to sign. (Jiroux refused to comment.)

Claiming he would have signed Ammiano's letter given the chance, Leno described Jiroux as a "good Democrat" who used to work for Sen.