Environmental Cleanup – Update on Site 1

Site 1 indicated by blue line. Yellow line indicates entire area used by Navy as a disposal area from 1943 to 1956. Red indicates waste pit that caused groundwater contamination. Navy photo and overlay.

Groundwater

The Navy is proceeding with plans to remediate contaminated groundwater at the old disposal site at the northwest tip of Alameda Point.  The contaminated groundwater is within the area known as Site 1, which encompasses over half of the old dump.  In one particular area of the dump, the Navy routinely dumped liquid waste material.  No one knows for sure how much of it was in drums that may still be rusting away, and how much was just poured into the pit.

Some current and former members of the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) have long been concerned as to whether the size of the plume has been adequately characterized, meaning how wide and how deep.  The main issue is its proximity to the Bay and whether remediation measures will prevent any of the hazardous compounds from entering Bay water.  

At the June RAB meeting, the Navy presented an overview of its findings and its proposed plan of action for groundwater remediation.  They will be injecting the same chemical used at other sites at the Point, which will interact with the contaminants and neutralize them.  But it is not expected to be 100% effective.  A certain percentage of the contaminants will be allowed to degrade over time – a process that regulators call natural attenuation.

Groundwater treatment area indicated by arrow. Navy drawing.

The action plan includes a monitoring program that will last decades into the future.  Surface level, or slightly below ground, capped pipes will remain in place to allow for yearly monitoring.  If problems arise, it will be the Navy’s responsibility to return with a backup plan.

Site 1 completion date delayed to 2014

Readers may recall that earlier this year the contractor for Site 1, while doing testing for design of their work plan, found that the area once used for burning junk was larger than originally thought.  This has led to temporarily stopping plans for installing a four-foot engineered soil cap over the old dump.  

The Record of Decision issued in late 2009 must, by law, contain accurate information about what it is that’s being remediated.  The amendment process will add another year and a half to the process, with the anticipated completion being sometime in 2014.  

In an effort to make the best of an otherwise discouraging setback, the Navy recently decided that it can proceed with the groundwater remediation during the amendment process.  The groundwater issues are unaffected by the burn area discovery.

The allowed use for this area when remediation is completed is open space and recreation.  Building construction, other than, say, a covered picnic pavilion, is prohibited.

Target treatment area for contaminated groundwater on Site 1. The vertical orange line indicates an underground barrier system put in place years ago to prevent contaminated groundwater from reaching the Bay. It will remain in place and continues to serve a purpose. Navy photo and overlay.

Well boring at groundwater contamination area on Site 1 in 2011. Navy photo.

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