East Bay Express: Climate Change Will Unleash Buried Toxics, July 12, 2012


Toxic sites ringing the San Francisco Bay tell the story of its recent past. Smelting plants, hazardous waste dumps, landfills, shipyards, fuel depots, and military bases recall an era when the bay was prized more for its tactical and commercial values than for its ecology. Most have been closed or removed, but their toxic legacy often remains intact, hidden just beneath the surface; long-buried chemicals, heavy metals, and hazardous waste still seep into the bay on a daily basis.


Among the most contaminated locations are Alameda's Naval Air Station, Richmond's United Heckathorn site (a former shipyard and agricultural chemical warehouse), and San Francisco's Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. Other cities containing waterfront toxic sites include Oakland, Hayward, Newark, Hercules, Rodeo, Antioch, Novato, Tiburon, Sausalito, South San Francisco, Redwood City, San Mateo, and East Palo Alto; Richmond has more waterfront toxic sites than any other city, with a total of nine. Contaminants at the various sites include heavy metals, petroleum products, asbestos, and chemicals like banned DDT, all of which currently leak or could eventually leak into groundwater or the bay itself. Cleanup or containment is in progress at some sites, while others still need to be evaluated.