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The Prospective Purchaser Agreement (PPA) for the Astra-Zeneca Site

Public Comments due by Friday, June 25, 2021 5pm

I am concerned the DTSC's current Prospective Purchaser Agreement with HRP-Campus Bay LLC is inappropriate, improper and inadequate.
The PPA is inappropriate. As stated in DTSC's own PPA Policy, traditionally, a seller, not the regulator itself, directly indemnifies the potential purchaser against legal action. (“Indemnification of the purchaser by the seller is the traditional method of liability reduction.”) In facilitating this real estate transaction and waiving its future enforcement abilities, DTSC abdicates its stated mission to protect public health and safety.
Additionally, HRP has failed to provide sufficient documentation of its non-affiliation from previously denied potential purchasers who were found to have significant inappropriate financial ties to the current owner, CSV I LLC. In fact, in a June 3, 2021 communication with HRP, a DTSC representative wrote that the affidavit provided by HRP representatives was “not sufficient to establish that HRP is not affiliated with any potentially responsible parties for the Zeneca/Former Stauffer Chemical Site.” The said affidavit fails to address HRP's relationship to EFG-Campus Bay LLC, a former 2017 applicant found to have financial ties to CSV that were significant enough for the agency to allocate to EFG 8% of the responsibility and addressing the contamination at the site in 2019. In fact, Astra-Zeneca representatives commented on the inappropriateness of EFG's PPA application in 2018, as documented in the Responsiveness Summary Attachments appended to the 2019 Feasibility Study and Remedial Action Plan (FS/RAP).
It is alarming that the public has received no assurance from the developer of its independence from EFG-Campus Bay LLC, and DTSC has not provided an adequate time frame for the public to comprehensively research the tangled corporate ties between this newly disclosed series of corporate entities created solely for the purpose of purchasing the Astra-Zeneca property. Ownership of the site over the last 20 years has been convoluted and has involved upwards of 15 separate corporate entities with affiliations that have only been revealed to public through litigation. The PPA, as an agreement between such entities and DTSC, leaves the public with no meaningful advocate.
The PPA is improper because it lacks California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental review. The City of Richmond's environmental assessment of the project, upon which the development agreement is based, was issued in 2016, and fails to account for new guidelines published by the California Coastal Commission regarding sea level rise as well as Cal EPA and DTSC's own vapor intrusion guidelines, published in February 2020. DTSC acknowledges the need for 5-year reviews and continued monitoring soil and water at the site, which indicates an ongoing risk to human health which necessitates the formal environmental review process.
DTSC's decision to exempt the deal from the CEQA process is currently under legal challenge. The suit raises questions about the safety of building residences on a concrete cap. “The vapor intrusion effects of [trichloroethylene (TCE)] at this site will be further exacerbated by the increased rate of sea level rise revealed by the 2020 state guidelines. That sea level rise will accelerate the vapor intrusion of the TCE, as well as mobilizing other toxic materials still remaining in the subterranean soil under the site and increasing pressure on the concrete cap planned to be placed over those toxics.” In addition, “the Zeneca/Stauffer site is very close to the Hayward Fault and in an area highly subject to liquefaction. All it would take would be a moderate earthquake – something that is almost certain to occur during the lifetime of the project proposed to be built at this site – in conjunction with the increased water pressure due to sea level rise, to cause cracking or breaking of the concrete cap, releasing the mobilized toxics onto the surface and into the buildings on the site.”
With those concerns in mind, the PPA the financial assurance provided by HRP, a mere $13 million, seems inadequate to cover potential liability for future health impacts, remediation costs and/or the risk of building near the Hayward Fault in the event that the developer reneges on its commitments.
In light of the lack of clarity regarding HRP-Campus Bay LLC's affiliation with past responsible parties or current owners, new environmental assessment guidelines released by the State of California and DTSC itself, and ongoing legal challenges regarding the Zeneca Site, I urge DTSC to reconsider and reject its Prospective Purchaser Agreement with HRP-Campus Bay LLC. I hope DTSC will instead embrace the precautionary principle in acting to preemptively protect the public's interest to reconsider and choose a full clean-up of the Astra-Zeneca site as outlined by Option 6 of the FS/RAP.
Thank you,