Get the Lead Out
State tells University Villages developer to remove lead-contaminated soil.
Thursday, June 1, 2006
It’s not just a ghost town anymore. It’s a lead-contaminated ghost town. About 290 acres on the former-Fort Ord have been identified as being laced with dangerously high levels of lead.
The land is situated on a section of what will become the University Villages mixed-use development project on the southern tip of Marina, adjacent to Highway 1. The cause of the contamination is clear enough, according to the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).
In a report that details options for addressing the lead contamination over the next three years, officials blame lead-based paints that were used on the approximately 570 Army barracks and other structures on the site. All of these buildings are scheduled for demolition to make room for new developments.
The lead-based paints have been chipping away over decades, turning to dust, and embedding themselves in the surrounding soil.
The lead-based paints used on the Army’s former buildings have been chipping away over decades, turning to dust, and embedding themselves in the surrounding soil. All of the structures predate 1978, and it wasn’t until that year that federal and state officials made lead-based paints illegal, after realizing that they contribute to lead poisoning in people, which may cause kidney damage, seizures, comas and death.
On April 22, DTSC ended a month-long public comment period on plans to clean up the contamination. DTSC staff want the University Villages developer to scoop out the first six inches of soil around each of the old buildings and to truck the contaminated dirt to a toxic waste dump. Now the staff’s recommendation sits on the DTSC director’s desk, who will make the final decision about how to clean up the land. According to Carol Singleton, DTSC public information officer, the department received only one inquiry about the plan over the month-long public comment period.
It came from members of the Fort Ord Environmental Justice Network. “The developer of the property says they will clean up the lead,” says LeVonne Stone, executive director of the justice network. “But they’re only willing to do so much, so we’ve made recommendations as to what else should be done.”
Peter deFur, a scientist hired by the justice network under a US Environmental Protection Agency technical assistance grant, outlined some of the group’s concerns. The first one is that Marina Community Partners, the developer of the University Villages project, plans to remove soil located up to 3 feet around each building.
“My concern has to do with the assumption that there is a clear distance from the house beyond which they don’t need to clean up,” deFur says. “I think the distance should be further [than 3 feet].”
Another concern with the draft plan for cleanup has to do with how many soil samples will be taken after contaminated soil is removed.
“They’ve proposed taking about 27 samples and there are 527 properties,” deFur explains. “I’m not sure 27 is large enough.”
On the whole, however, deFur says other aspects of the plan seem to be sound.
Singleton says DTSC will reveal the final contamination removal plan some time this week and it will contain “very minor” adjustments to the draft cleanup plan.
Weight, in pounds, of the Grand Champion swine at May’s Salinas Valley Fair. The pig, raised by Gianna Marci of Spring 4-H, sold for $8,160 at auction.Source: Lauren Hamilton, Salinas Valley Fair spokeswoman.