Environmental Cleanup on Treasure Island

The following list of active cleanup sites on Treasure Island is taken from a fact sheet distributed by the Navy, current as of August 2006. Almost fifty percent of the sites identified on this fact sheet have been cleared, representing significant effort on everyone’s part. I am only listing the sites for which action still needs to be taken, or for which a decision of no further action has been reached.

At issue are a variety of unpleasant substances which have less than favourable effects on the human body.

Arsenic: arsenic is a common element which was used in wood treatment and other industrial applications. Arsenic can lead to a sore throat, irritated lungs, skin rashes, nausea, vomiting, darkening of the skin, formation of skin nodules, abnormal heart rhythm, and ultimately death.

Asbestos: created from various fibrous minerals, asbestos was widely used for insulation, tile manufacture, and other applications, because of its long, strong, flexible, and heat resistant fibers. Asbestos affects the lungs through inhalation, and will cause cancer.

Copper: copper is a widely distributed metal which is not harmful in small concentrations. In fact, trace amounts of the metal are needed to maintain human health. However, in larger concentrations, copper can cause irritation of the nose and throat, nausea, vomiting, liver and kidney damage, and death.

Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT): DDT was at one point widely used for insect control in the United States. After bioaccumulation issues resulting in serious harm to wildlife, it was outlawed here, although it is still manufactured and used in other countries. For humans exposed to DDT, tremors, seizures, liver damage, reproductive damage, nervous system damage, and hormone confusion can result.

Dioxins: dioxins are created through incomplete combustion. Birth defects, endometriosis, cancer, liver damage, skin problems, and diabetes have been linked to dioxin exposure in humans.

Lead: lead is a metal which can be found in small concentrations in the Earth’s crust. It has been used in a variety of human endeavors, ranging from paint to movable type. Lead will cause heavy metal poisoning, which is linked with damage to the nervous system joints, liver, kidneys, brain, and reproductive systems. In addition, lead is linked with increased risk of miscarriage and changes to blood pressure and heart rate.

Mercury: mercury is a naturally occuring metal which was used in a wide variety of applications before health problems were associated with it. It can wreak havoc on the central nervous system, which is extremely sensitive to heavy metal poisoning. Lung damage, cancer, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin damage, eye irritation, and changes in blood pressure and heart rate have also been linked with mercury poisoning.

Polychlorinated bipenyls (PCBs): PCBs were developed in the 1930s for extensive use in the electronics industry. After realizing that the harmful substances bioaccumulated, manufacture was halted in the 1980s. They appear as mostly colourless oily liquids and solids which have no discernable taste. Skin conditions, liver damage, anemia, impaired reproduction, mental changes, immune damage, and cancer have been associated with PCBs.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs): PAHs are formed through incomplete burning, like dioxins. They often appear as soot, or charring, and some are commercially manufactured for a wide variety of uses. Animal studies show links with immune system damage, skin problems, reproductive damage, birth defects, and weight loss. The Department of Health and Human Services has linked them with cancer in humans.

Total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH): many fuels and other crude oil products fall into this heading. Central nervous system effects, numbness, reproductive harm, damage to the eyes, blood, immune system, kidneys, lungs, and liver have been observed. Several TPH compounds are cancerous.

Site 6
Location of the former Navy fire fighting school, located on the Northeast Corner of the Island. Possibility of chemical contaminants is at issue, and a remedial investigation report is being prepared. Known contaminants include petroleum, asbestos, volatile organic compounds, and mercury. The Navy is also monitoring the groundwater.

Site 8
Located on the Eastern tip of Yerba Buena Island, was the sludge disposal area for eight years. By sludge disposal, the Navy means that effluent from the waste treatment plant was dumped there. At issue are biological contaminants as well as some chemical pollution related to waste treatment. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons may be present. A remedial investigation report is being prepared.

Site 9
The location of the former foundry, between the clipper hangers on the southern side of Treasure Island. Solvents, lead, and petroleum products are present as part of the metalworking process. A proposed plan and record of decision are being prepared.

Site 10
Was the bus painting shop, located near Site Six on the Northeastern corner of the Island. Semivolatile organic compounds and pesticides are present, presumably related to the paint mixtures used by the miliary. The pesticides are as a result of storing pest control chemicals at the site. A proposed plan and record of decision are being prepared.

Site 11
On the southern side of the east approach of the Bay Bridge on Yerba Buena Island. It was used as a landfill by the Navy, and contains volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, metal, and total petroleum hydrocarbons. A remedial investigation report is being prepared.

Site 12
The old bunker area, site of current housing on the Northern portion of Treasure Island. Polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins, arsenic, lead, and debris are present. A remedial investiation report was prepared and presented, and the site is currently in a comment period while alternatives for cleanup are proposed.

Site 21
On the Southeastern corner of the Island, where oil was recovered from ships and separated from contaminants. Volatile organic compounds and total petroleum hydrocarbons are present at the site, where the remedial investigation report is in the process of being finalized following an initial treatabilty study in late 2005.

Site 24
The former drycleaning facility, in operation for over 35 years. It is slightly South of the middle of the Island on the eastern side. Petroleum, oil, lubricants, and chlorinated solvents have been found at the site. A remedial investigation report and feasabilty study are being prepared, following treatment of a groundwater plume in 2005.

Site 25
The seaplane maintenance area is on the Southern side of the Island next to Clipper Bay. Petroleum, oil, and lubricants are all present, resulting in continued groundwater monitoring.

Site 27
The Clipper Cove Skeet Range, operated between 1978 and 1987 on the Southern shore of the Island. Lead shot, lead, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are present at the site, while a feasibility study is on hold. Additional investigation of the sediment is required before action can be taken.

Site 28
The West side on/off ramp, where lead from paints and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have been identified. A remedial investigation report is being prepared.

Site 29
The East side on/off ramp, facing similar issues as the West ramp.

Site 30
Site 30, the former daycare center, is roughly in the middle of the Island, slightly to the west. Dioxins, lead, and copper have been discovered. The area was not developed until the mid 1980s, and it is suspected that burned debris was used to backfill utility trenches there. The remedial investigation report was finalized in February and a feasability study is being prepared.

Site 31
The former South storage yard is nestled next to Site 12, and may contain polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, total petroleum hydrocarbons, lead, copper, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, and dioxins. This storage area was used, clearly, for all sorts of material. In July 2006, the remedial investigation report was finalized. A feasability study is being prepared.

Site 32
The former training and storage area is on the Northeast corner of the Island, and likely has polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, total petroleum hydrocarbons, dioxins, and pesticides. In addition to being used for tear gas training, hazardous materials were stored there. Currently, there’s a large transformer pad, likely source of the polychlorinated biphenyls. A remedial investigation report is being prepared.

Site 33
Extensive historical repairs to this waterline on the Southeastern side of the Island revealed significant debris. Dioxins and metals are at issue, and a remedial investigation report is being prepared.

Pipeline Sites
Inactive fuel lines scattered around the Island are laden with petroleum. The water board has agreed that no further action should be taken on these sites.

Underground Storage Tank Sites
Underground petroleum tanks have also resulted in a concurrence between the Navy and other organizations that no further action be taken.

[Treasure Island]