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Last Edited: 8/5/2010

UC Richmond Field Station - Public Health Activities

In 2008, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released a comprehensive evaluation of the public health implications from contamination at the University of California at Berkeley (UC) Richmond Field Station (RFS) site.

 

The site

 

The UC RFS (formerly California Cap Company) site is located between San Francisco Bay and state highway 580, and between Point Isabelle on the southeast and Marina Bay residential community on the northwest. The site is adjacent to the Zeneca site (formerly Stauffer Chemical). Starting in the late 1800s, explosives were manufactured on the southeast portion of the UC RFS site, resulting in mercury contamination. Furthermore, arsenic-containing materials from the Zeneca site were deposited on some parts of the UC RFS site. 

 

Since the 1950s, the UC RFS site has been used as a research center, library storage facility, and laboratory. The regional park Marina Bay trail crosses the marsh portions of both sites (see a map of the area). As of May 2005, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has provided oversight of the investigation and cleanup of the Zeneca and UC RFS sites.  

 

CDPH's involvement at the site 

 

In mid-May 2005, the Contra Costa County Health Officer requested the assistance of the Environmental Health Investigations Branch in CDPH, in responding to exposure and health concerns arising from the two sites. After speaking with people working near the two sites or on the UC RFS site, the two health agencies pledged to comment on the possible health consequences from current exposure by the end of June 2005. (More information on CDPH's evaluation at the Zeneca site).

 

A joint provisional health statement was released on June 22, 2005, and updated on February 1, 2006. In August 2007, upon release of the draft public health assessment, information about exposure and health concerns related to the UC RFS were removed from the provisional health statement.

 

In 2008, CDPH released the public health assessment for the UC RFS site, which presents an evaluation of exposure to contaminants at the site and includes an overview of workers' health and exposure concerns reported to CDPH.

 

In 2010, an addendum to the PHA was added, incorporating information about radiological investigations at the neighboring Zeneca site.

 

Public Health Assessment for the UC RFS site [3/13/08; Addendum 3/17/2010]

 

Summary of the draft evaluation prepared by the Contra Costa County Health Services Department

 

Summary of CDHS's findings 

 

CDPH concludes the following exposure pathways/activities pose no public health concern:

  • Past exposure to airborne mercury during remedial activities conducted between August 2003 and September 2003.
  • Past, current, and future exposure to metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) for adults from recreating in the marsh.
  • Past exposure to metals and PCBs for children/teenagers from recreating in the marsh.
  • Current exposure to metals and PCBs for adults and children/teenagers from restoring the Western Stege Marsh in areas that have been excavated.

CDPH concludes the following exposure pathways/activities pose a public health concern:

  • Current and future exposure to children/teenagers who regularly play in the Western Stege Marsh.
  • Past exposure to RFS maintenance workers who regularly worked in soil containing the highest levels of metals and PCBs in RFS soil prior to removal/excavation activities.
  • Current and future exposure to RFS maintenance workers who regularly work in soil containing the highest levels of metals and PCBs in non-excavated areas of RFS.

Recommendations made in the public health assessment

  • CDPH and ATSDR recommend that future soil disturbing/dust generating activities be monitored for air quality within the RFS and along the perimeter of the site, to ensure safe air quality for workers, residents, and other people in the area.
  • CDPH and ATSDR recommend that UC conduct additional characterization of on-site soil and groundwater throughout RFS to identify other areas where potential contamination may exist. Chemicals used in research activities at RFS, as well as known contaminants from historic uses of RFS and Zeneca-related (former Stauffer Chemical) contaminants, should be analyzed. Characterization of soil and groundwater in the area where the Forest Products should include additional analyses of pentachlorophenol and chlorophenol byproducts. Soil gas sampling should occur in areas where volatile contamination is suspected. Site characterization activities should be conducted under the direction of DTSC.
  • CDPH and ATSDR recommend that UC annually sample the sediment and unfiltered water in the RFS marsh to identify whether contaminants are migrating from the non remediated areas of the marsh, uplands, and adjacent Zeneca site. The sampling should continue until the site has been fully characterized and characterized and remediation completed in areas that could impact the marsh.
  • CDPH and ATSDR recommend that UC conduct groundwater monitoring in the Western Stege Marsh to determine whether contaminants are migrating from the uplands or the adjacent Zeneca site into the marsh.
  • CDPH and ATSDR recommend that UC conduct additional indoor air sampling in Buildings 163 and 175 to identify whether formaldehyde is elevated above levels typical of indoor air. Arsenic should also be analyzed. Results of sampling will determine the need for further sampling or investigation.

More information 

 



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