Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tide of change rises on Yosemite Slough

by Craig Cooper
Superfund Project Manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Yosemite Slough is pictured at Low Tide.  EPA’s cleanup project together with the California State Parks wetlands restoration project will remove contamination and debris from the slough.  Photo: EPA
Yosemite Slough is an inter-tidal channel between Hunters Point and Candlestick Point right here in the Bayview.  Located at the far-eastern end of Yosemite Avenue, the slough was once an important wetlands and haven for shorebirds and marine life.  But after years of industrial pollution and neglect, the slough is now damaged and contaminated with lead and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

"Plans are underway to make the slough a cleaner and safer place." 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a cleanup plan that includes:
  • Dredging and removing contaminated mud in the top layers of the slough,
  • Hauling the contaminated mud away, and 
  • Replacing it with clean sand and mud.
EPA estimates that a volume equal to about 1,100 truck-loads of contaminated mud will need to be removed from the slough. 

"...about 1,100 truck-loads of contaminated mud will need to be removed..."

Before the mud can be hauled away, excess water will be removed from the contaminated mud either at a Candlestick Park overflow parking lot or on San Francisco Port Authority property about 2 miles north of the slough.  The EPA plan also includes improving the slough banks to prevent erosion, placing certain restrictions on how the slough is used (e.g. boating restrictions), and long-term monitoring to ensure the cleanup work is effective. 

Project Benefits 

A successful cleanup project at Yosemite Slough will protect people and wildlife (especially fish and shorebirds) from unsafe levels of contaminants.  In addition, this project will contribute to the California State Parks’ ongoing efforts to restore wetlands and improve park areas around the slough, which is planned to include, among other things, a walking trail.

After the slough is cleaned up, work will continue to prevent dumping, contaminated storm water flows, and erosion from damaging the slough so that it stays clean for generations to come. 

"A successful cleanup project at Yosemite Slough will protect people and wildlife..." 

Estimated Project Cost and Schedule 

EPA estimates that its recommended cleanup plan will cost approximately $12 million. Next year, EPA will negotiate a legal settlement with the parties EPA considers responsible for the contamination.  Upon finalization of the legal settlement, detailed design reports will be developed and the cleanup project could start as early as Summer 2016. 

"...the cleanup project could start as early as Summer 2016." 

Comments on EPA’s Proposed Plan for Yosemite Slough are Due September 6th

 EPA’s proposed cleanup plan can be found online now.  The proposed plan explains how to submit your comments and how to obtain copies of the technical documents that EPA considered in developing its cleanup proposal.

In addition, EPA is hosting a public meeting on August 21, 2013 at Bret Harte Elementary School (1035 Gilman Ave) from 6pm - 8pm.   Please come to the public meeting to hear more about EPA’s proposals.   At this meeting, EPA will also record verbal comments from the public.

To review the technical documents EPA considered in developing this cleanup proposal, please visit the San Francisco Bayview Public Library, 5075 3rd Street or the office of Arc Ecology Inc, 1331 Evans Ave (please call 415-643-1190 to make an appointment).

Questions about this project should be directed to EPA Project Manager, Craig Cooper by email or by phone (415) 947-4148.

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