Memo from City Manager to City Council Regarding Status Report of Environmental Conditions and Clean-up at Alameda Point, January 20, 2015

Presentation on Status Report of Environmental Conditions and Clean-up at Alameda Point. (Base Reuse 819099)

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

From: John A. Russo, City Manager

Re: Presentation on Status Report of Environmental Conditions and Clean-up at Alameda Point.


Alameda Point was an active United States Navy (Navy) base from 1940 to 1997. While active, as many as 16,000 to 18,000 personnel worked at the Naval Air Station (NAS Alameda). It was selected for closure as part of the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). Operational closure round, which occurred in April 1997.

Operations at the base included aircraft maintenance, automotive repair, storage tanks and piping (diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel), painting, paint stripping, machine shops, and a skeet range. Localized areas across Alameda Point became contaminated with residues from these activities. The contaminants include fuels, metals, solvents, PCBs, pesticides, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, and, in a few instances, radioluminescent paint residues. The Navy is responsible for the clean-up of contamination associated with its former activities at Alameda Point and has been actively investigating and remediating the property for the last 15+ years, during which time it has spent over $500 million on these efforts. The City's zoning, infrastructure and development plans have been, and will continue to be, coordinated with the Navy's clean-up levels and schedule. The Navy can only transfer the property to the City once the environmental regulators agree that the property has been cleaned-up to federal standards.

This evening's staff report provides an overview of the environmental clean-up process at Alameda Point and highlights issues with a few key sites that are undergoing clean-up and/or are scheduled for transfer to the City. The City's environmental consultant, Peter Russell of Russell Resources, who has been the City's independent environmental consultant and advisor at Alameda Point for the last 17 years, will make the presentation this evening. Dr. Russell reviews all pertinent environmental documents and actively participates with the Navy and environmental regulators in decision-making discussions for the remediation process. Dr. Russell also attends the Navy's community advisory committee, the Restoration Advisory Board meetings, which include discussions among the Navy, environmental regulators, and community residents and stakeholders.


To evaluate the nature and extent of the contaminated areas, and to complete any needed remediation, the Navy conducts two parallel environmental programs at Alameda Point: (1) the Petroleum Program, and (2) the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Program. At locations where petroleum and CERCLA contamination is co-located, both are sometimes addressed in the CERCLA Program.

Petroleum Program
The Navy's cleanup of petroleum at Alameda Point is overseen by the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (Water Board). The Petroleum Program includes 160 sites with almost 300 individual environmental units (fuel storage tanks, piping, sumps, etc.). About 115 of the Petroleum Program sites have completed investigation with remediation as needed, and have been closed. Roughly 45 of the remaining sites are currently being evaluated for closure. The Navy plans to close all of the Petroleum Program sites, although some closures will not be completed until after transfer to the City. The City participates in the Navy's and Water Board's work on the Petroleum Program as an observer, providing comments on proposed actions as appropriate.

CERCLA Program
The federal CERCLA Program, commonly known as Superfund, addresses most other types of contamination in soil, groundwater, and soil gas. Petroleum and petroleum products are generally excluded. The CERCLA Program's BRAC Cleanup Team (BCT) is made up of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the Water Board, and the Navy. In certain instances, the California Department of Public Health provides technical support to DTSC's participation in the BCT. The City participates in the BCT's work as an observer, providing comments on proposed actions as appropriate.

Thirty-four Installation Restoration (IR) Sites (sites designated by the Department of Defense for cleanup of contamination from past operations) are in Alameda Point's CERCLA Program: 16 IR Sites are now closed. Active remediation is complete at two more sites, but full closure will occur after natural processes lower contaminants to target levels. All of the IR Sites within the land owned by the City are closed or in the natural attenuation phase of remediation. Exhibit 1 depicts the IR sites and Exhibit 2 presents a map of the Navy's conveyance phases. Eight IR Sites are currently in remediation and the BCT is completing clean-up plans for the remaining eight sites. Most IR Sites are grouped into Operable Units (OUs) for collective investigation and cleanup. Seven of the eight sites that are still in the planning stage are clustered in two OUs (OU-2B and OU-2C). Four key CERCLA sites (IR Site 1, IR Site 17, OU-2B, and OU-2C) are discussed in more detail below.

IR Site 1
IR Site 1 is the former landfill in the northwest corner of Alameda Point. It operated from 1943 until 1956, when the base began using the former landfill in the southwest corner of Alameda Point (IR Site 2). Active remediation of the IR Site 2 has been completed, but work on IR Site 1 is currently in progress. The cleanup of IR Site 1 consists of groundwater treatment (active phase appears complete) and containment of the waste and contaminated soil. Excavation with off-site disposal of the landfill contents would have been prohibitively expensive. The landfill's containment involves relocation of contamination present along a portion of the shoreline to the interior of the landfill (complete), a waste isolation barrier along another stretch of the shoreline (complete), a 3-foot thick soil cover, and wetlands restoration. Land-use controls will allow passive recreational use of the former landfill site once remediation is complete. Remediation of IR Site 1 is expected to be complete in 2015.

IR Site 17
IR Site 17 is the Seaplane Lagoon. Most of the sediment contamination (metals, PCBs, and pesticides) at IR Site 17 came from industrial wastewater that the Navy routinely disposed into storm drain lines prior to the mid-1970s. The Navy has successfully dredged and off-hauled this contaminated sediment, which was located around storm drain outfalls at Seaplane Lagoon's two northern corners. During the dredging process, the Navy encountered 51 items (most smaller than a quarter), which had small amounts of radioluminescent paint on them. These items, which appear not to have originated from the outfalls, were found at the rate of about one item per 2,000 cubic yards of sediment (or four per acre), making them very sparse. They potentially are present elsewhere in Seaplane Lagoon sediment. The BCT is currently discussing what, if any, land-use controls are appropriate for this low-level radiological contamination. There may need to be a limited amount of dredging of the Seaplane Lagoon to facilitate plans for a ferry terminal, although it is possible that the ferry terminal could be constructed without any dredging. If dredging is required, the cost of dredging and disposing of the sediment would be borne by the City and/or its developers. Prior to title transfer, the City will be seeking an exemption from any need for a radioactive materials license with the State due to the minimal risk of any residual contamination left in place and the extensive protections afforded by the federal CERCLA process.

OU-2B is the formerly industrialized area along Atlantic Avenue and includes IR Sites 3 (Abandoned Fuel Storage Area), 4 (Aircraft Engine Facility), 11 (Engine Test Cell), and 21 (Ship Fitting and Engine Repair). The planned excavation of contaminated soil (metals and solvents) in OU-2B is complete. Two small areas of OU-2B, totaling about an acre, are expected to have land-use controls restricting ground-floor residential use. These areas were not excavated because they are in soil beneath Buildings 360 (IR Site 4) and 398 (IR Site 3). The Navy has completed initial efforts to remediate widespread solvent contamination in OU-2B groundwater, and the BCT is currently planning the additional groundwater treatment that is needed. Land-use restrictions will be applied to the portions of OU-2B over the solvent plume. Ground-floor residential use likely will be prohibited, and buildings will need vapor-intrusion control measures. The most significant area of petroleum contamination at Alameda Point was within OU-2B. Most of the petroleum in OU-2B soil and groundwater has been successfully cleaned up under the Petroleum Program. Active remediation of OU-2B is expected to be complete in 2021.

OU-2C is the formerly industrialized area along West Tower Avenue and includes IR Sites 5 (Air Rework Facility), 10 (Missile Rework Facility), and 12 (Power Plant). The most significant impact is solvents in groundwater beneath and in the general vicinity of Building 5. The Navy has been successful with initial efforts to remediate the groundwater. Additional groundwater treatment is being designed to achieve groundwater quality that is acceptable for unrestricted commercial and industrial use. A land-use restriction will be imposed to prevent residential use in certain areas and to require maintenance of Building 5's floor slab to limit access to underlying contaminated soil.

Within OU-2C, Buildings 5 and 400 formerly housed shops that worked with radioluminescent paint, primarily to refurbish instrument dials, buttons, switches, and other items. Cleanup of the low-level radiological residues on floors, walls, etc. is nearing completion. Wastewater originating in these shops left traces of radioluminescent paint in some storm drain lines and an industrial waste line beneath and outside of these buildings. The Navy has cleaned some of the storm drain lines already. The BCT is in discussions about what the ultimate disposition of storm drain and industrial waste lines will be. Active remediation of OU-2C is expected to be complete in 2021. Again, prior to title transfer, the City will be seeking an exemption from any need for a radioactive materials license with the State due to the minimal risk of any residual contamination left in place and the extensive protections afforded by the federal CERCLA process.

In spite of the complexity of the environmental issues at Alameda Point, the City and its own independent experts work closely and carefully with the numerous State and Federal regulators and the Navy on the clean-up of Alameda Point to ensure that, once transferred to the City, new development at Alameda Point neither poses a threat to human health and the environment, nor creates a long-term liability for the City.

In 2013, Phase 1 of the Alameda Point conveyance (510 acres) was transferred to the City subject to approval by all State and Federal environmental regulators. The Navy, with approval from those same regulators, plans on transferring the remaining 370 acres to the City in three subsequent phases over the next five to seven years.


This report is for information only. There is no financial impact to the General Fund or Base Reuse Department budgets.


This report is for information only.

Respectfully submitted,
Jennifer Ott, Chief Operating Officer - Alameda Point

Financial Impact section reviewed,
Juelle-Ann Boyer, Interim Finance Director

1. Map of Installation Restoration Sites at Alameda Point
2. Map of Navy Conveyance Phases
3. PowerPoint Presentation on Status Report of Environmental Conditions and Clean-up at Alameda Point