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Sample Letter to Governor Newsom

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Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Newsom:
We ask you to intervene on behalf of the Richmond, California and larger San Francisco Bay Area community, and future generations and all life in and near the AstraZeneca/former Stauffer Chemical site, which is on the immediate shoreline of San Francisco Bay with estuaries inhabited by endangered species on either side.
A broad base of residents, workers, business owners, city representatives and San Francisco Bay Trail users have been advocating for 20 years to ensure a comprehensive clean-up of the AstraZeneca (aka "Campus Bay"), located in Richmond, California.
The 86-acre site is far more than a Brownfield; it is a US EPA Superfund-qualified toxic dump burdened with the legacy of more than 100-years of extensive industrial chemical manufacturing. The site is bordered on the south by Stege Marsh and San Francisco Bay, to the west by UC Berkeley Richmond Field Station and Meeker Slough, and on the east by a small-business area, Baxter Creek, the radioactive contaminated Blair Landfill, and in several directions by low income housing and environmental justice-impacted residents just across I-580 which curves around the site.
Since 2004, community volunteers have worked diligently with the Cal EPA Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to ensure a robust clean-up. However we have lost confidence DTSC is adequate to the job of holding AstraZeneca (the primary Responsible Party) to a clean-up standard protective of human and environmental health.
Currently over 98% of 550,000 cubic yards of hazardous waste, much of it cancer-causing and/or linked to other health risks such as reproductive and developmental disorders, is proposed for burial but not encapsulation at this shoreline site, with dense residential (4,000 units) on top.
DTSC ignored updated science of sea level rise and its impacts of saltwater intrusion; they also ignored new more protective health risk levels for tetrachloroethene (TCE), which is predominant throughout the site, and used 40hrs/wk worker risk levels rather than full-time residential risk levels, in calculating the cleanup goal. The contaminated soil contains high levels of heavy metals (predominantly arsenic), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), herbicides, fungicides, pesticides (many banned worldwide) and more. Many independent experts have weighed-in on the dangers of allowing the hazards to remain on the shoreline and especially underlying development.
Deed restrictions prevent on-site day care, schools, hospitals, or other facilities for seniors or anyone under 21 years old, yet families with children, seniors, and other vulnerable populations are likely to end up living there.
When choosing a clean-up alternative in the Feasibility Study and Remedial Action Plan (FS/RAP) process, DTSC used the argument that a dig-and-haul solution would expose the nearby widespread environmental justice community to more potential harm, yet their own documents conclude removing all the hazardous material is the best long term solution.
The current plan depends on unproven in-situ remediation of widespread VOCs in soil, soil gas and groundwater and "5-year reviews" which don't require re-sampling of soil, water, etc. to verify the remedy remains protective. There was no consideration of sea level rise increasing groundwater pressure against foundations, nor of it increasing VOCs forced into living spaces via aging concrete, utility conduit seals, and plumbing. There is no plan for real-time measurement of VOCs under or in the proposed 4,000 residences, nor any plan to mitigate toxic plumes already expanding into bordering areas including Stege Marsh, San Francisco Bay, and the adjacent UC Berkeley and small-business properties.
Our ask:
  • Cal EPA DTSC reopen and update the Feasibility Study/ Remedial Action Plan (FS/RAP) and Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) to include sea level rise and seismic risks in addition to using the most protective health standards when evaluating the risks from hazardous waste left in place
  • City of Richmond reopen and update the Richmond South Shoreline Specific Plan Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to reflect sea level and seismic risks and consider the trend for more protective standards for the types of hazardous waste at this site
  • AstraZeneca (and other RPs) remove all the toxic waste to a certified hazardous waste facility, by rail or intermodal transport, if possible
Thank you for your prompt consideration of this urgent matter.

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