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Richmond Toxic Tour Part 1


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Richmond, CA has been an industrial city for over 100 years. Many of these industries dumped toxic wastes into the water and soil and left future generations to suffer health impacts and clean-up …

Richmond, CA has been an industrial city for over 100 years. Many of these industries dumped toxic wastes into the water and soil and left future generations to suffer health impacts and clean-up costs. This toxic tour of Richmond features over 100 sites, listing the companies that caused the damage and the chemicals that they left behind.

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  • 1. A Toxic Tour A Toxic Tour is a trip through time as well as space. You travel back through time from what’s now an empty lot through a series of companies that have each dumped a layer of toxics on top of the others. Some of these sites are still occupied by the same businesses they have been for decades. Other sites have been cleaned up to various degrees, but many have just been confined inside a cyclone fence or under a dirt or blacktop cap. The assumption is that nobody will ever go there to dig up the soil or come in contact with it at the surface. The effectiveness of protecting future visitors to the sites depends on so-called institutional controls, ranging from prohibitions on building schools to bans on digging or on eating whatever is able to grow in the dirt fill. Some institutional controls include barriers or signs, but most descriptions of the institutional controls are tucked away only in some paperwork somewhere. Those descriptions are usually supposed to be reviewed every 5 years to make sure they are still in place and still effective. Yet how can anybody really tell, short of a long term health study, how effective they are at keeping the community and the environment safe? The government sets standards for how clean is clean at these sites based on the chances of somebody getting cancer or some other serious health problem from exposure to the site. Our understanding of how cancer or other health problems develop from the contaminants, though, can change as we learn more over the years. Already the old understandings of what is a safe level for lead or for TCE (Trichloroethylene—see glossary at the end of this presentation) have become stricter after a number of former sites had been cleaned up to the older, less protective standards. Are we going back to those old sites and cleaning them up to our newer standards? And we are only aware of the tip of the iceberg about how toxic substances interact with each other to make a chemical mixture worse than the sum of its individual chemicals. In other words, what was considered a protective cleanup from yesterday may no longer be understood as a safe cleanup tomorrow.
  • 2. But in the meanwhile, the site could have been assumed to be cleaned up forever and forgotten about. The job of following up on all these old sites in perpetuity is simply going to get lost in the shuffle, if it has not already. So all institutional controls depend on citizen vigilance and institutional memory. I’m passing along my institutional memory to you with this guidebook, hoping you’ll take it up with vigilance to clean up the land better in your generation than others have done when they hand the chance but didn’t’ take it. That’s the legacy we need to pass along, not a legacy of hazardous waste left behind for future community members to suffer from and be stuck with cleaning up. Get creative. At the suggestion of Mary Nelson, in 1990 I began leading and co-leading Toxic Tours in Richmond with various organizations and partners. I once even led boat tours of toxic sites on the South Richmond shoreline with the Baykeeper at the helm. Using this presentation you can put together your own Toxic Tour of Richmond. --Steve Linsley, 2013
  • 3. Site 1—350 Carlson Ave. Railroad shop. TCE, PCE, lead in soil and groundwater Note: See Glossary at the end of this presentation for definitions of all chemical terms
  • 4. Site 2: Pullman Property—Carlson Blvd & Pullman Ave. From the 1900s through the 1950s the Pullman Company sandblasted layers of lead-based paint prior to repainting railcars. Lead-contaminated soil from the site was removed, but arsenic remained in all 18 samples collected after initial cleanup.
  • 5. Site 3 . . .Miraflores Nursery, S. 47th St at Wall Ave. PCE, chlorinated pesticides, lead in soil and groundwater; the 45th Street plume from the nurseries put PCE and TCE in residential groundwater
  • 6. Miraflores Nursery slide 2
  • 7. Site 4—Veolia/CAETC/Onyx—1125 Hensley Ave. Bay Area environmental/California Advanced Environmental Technology Corp./ONYX. Hazardous waste transfer facility
  • 8. Site 5: Blair Landfill for Stauffer Chemical—foot of S. 51st St 850 parts per million (ppm) DDT in the soil as well as dieldrin, arsenic, cadmium, and lead in excess of clean up standards
  • 9. Blair Landfill for Stauffer Chemical—slide 2 This site also includes the Stege Property Pistol Range; lead slugs in soil over 200,000 parts per million
  • 10. Site 6—Summer (del Caribe) Chemical—2020 Wright Ave. Fireproofing material manufacturer: workers wore lead-contaminated clothing home to their children; high lead (solder), plus zinc (flux) and VOCs in groundwater from on-site burial. Some ran off property and concentrated in a ditch on the N. side of the 2100 block of Meeker Ave.
  • 11. Site 7—Great Western Chemical—860 Wharf Street Ferric chloride produced from hydrochloric acid on site and in sewer discharge; TCE in groundwater
  • 12. Site 8—California Oils, PVO—1145 Harbour Way Vegetable oil refiner; phenols, nickel, and acid contamination on site and in sewer discharges
  • 13. Site 9: University of California/California Cap Company 1301 S. 46th Street Mercury in groundwater and soil from mercury fulminate in explosive cap manufacturing and arsenic from Wood Products Laboratory; cinders from Stauffer Chemical, spread all over this property to fill in the Bay and suppress weeds and dust, contain arsenic, copper, lead , mercury, and PCBs above hazardous waste levels (cont. next slide)
  • 14. University of California—slide 2 Also in soil are chlordane and DDT/DDE/DDD. Arsenic, beryllium cadmium, copper, mercury, nickel, carbon tetrachloride, DCE, TCE, PCE, vinyl chloride, and PCBs were in groundwater above drinking water Maximum Contaminant Levels.
  • 15. University of California—slide 3
  • 16. Site 10—Liquid Gold—South of I-580, East of Bayview Exit Hazardous waste storage site: toluene, nickel in groundwater; PCBs, phenol, lead, zinc, copper, chromium, nickel, volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • 17. Site 11—Zeneca/ICI Americas/Stauffer—1415 S. 47th St. Stauffer’s Elwood Trimpey said their pesticides were “so harmless I could drink a glass of it right now and it would have no effect.” Uranium and beryllium metal were melted. John de Benedictus stated they used vinyl chloride in research . They manufactured carbon disulfide, . . . (cont. next slide)
  • 18. Stauffer Chemical/ICI Americas/Zeneca—slide 2 Sulfuric (battery) acid, alum, phosphate fertilizer, titanium trichloride, and pesticides. Proprietary pesticides include captan (thiocarbamate, molinte (thiocarbamate, bensulide or Phosmet (thio phospate) fonofos (thio phosphate), metam sodium or Vapam (dithiocarbamate, carbophenothion (thio phosphate), cycloate (thiocarbamate, butylate (thiocarbamate), EOTC or Eptam (thiocarbamate, flurochloridone (chloropyrrollidinone), napropamide or Devrinol (amide, pebulate (thiocarbamate), and vernolate (thiocarbamate). Hi soil concentration include arsenic (1,660 ppm), mercury (11.6 ppm), zinc (1,470 ppm), lead (346 ppm), nickel, copper, cadmium, DDD/DDE/DDT, PCBs, PCE, TCE, DCA, DCE, chlorobenzene, benzene, vinyl chloride, etc., in soil gas and groundwater.
  • 19. Site 12: Chevron Refinery--841 Chevron Way As of 1990, 115-174 million pounds of toxics stored on site. (2.9 million gal toluene, 100,000 gal phenol, 1.9 million gal benzene, 230,000 lb asbestos, 1,240 lb lead, 100,000 gal nickel, 10,000 lb zinc, 1,000 lb cadmium, 1,700 gal mercury. ) 240,000 pounds per year of toxics are released to the air—benzene, toluene, chloroform, PCE, methylene chloride, nickel. A major fire August 6, 2012 was caused by old corroded pipes; over 15,000 people sought hospital treatment due to the fire.
  • 20. Site 13—North American Packaging Corp./Rheem Manufacturing—801 Chesley Plant: tin plating, zinc release, hydrocarbon thinner, lead
  • 21. Site 14: Bray Oil, 801 Wharf Street Bulk oil terminal—Solvents in groundwater.
  • 22. Site 15: Reaction Products, 850 Morton Ave. 2008 accidental toluene release; the state ordered a TCE and DCE removal action
  • 23. Site 15 (cont): Collins Ave & Morton Ave.—three additional locations Dennison Eastman Corp. paper manufacturing, 3451 Collins Ave.: volatile organic compounds (PCE, TCE), PCP Koppers polyester resin chemical plant, 3501 Collins Ave.: 0.9 million lb. toxics; 29,000 lb./yr total toxics released to air Witco Corporation, 850 Morton Ave., produced polymerization initiators for plastics and benzoyl peroxide production from 1957 to 1990. Alkaline wastewater from the manufacturing processes was neutralized on site and held in two unlined surface impoundments. 270 lb./yr. total toxics released to air