Cleanup started at port’s toxic-waste site

Nine large steel tanks, the remnants of a facility that once transported petroleum products and stored hazardous waste, are being removed this month as part of the cleanup of a nine-acre site at the Port of Redwood City.

The site was initially developed by Texaco in 1963 to store 10.5 million gallons of gasoline and jet fuel. In 1990, it was converted to a hazardous waste treatment and storage facility. Cleanup is being performed after an extensive public-comment period held by the California Department of Toxic Substances.

“Everyone was pleased to see that the site was approved for cleanup,” said Angela Blanchette, spokeswoman for the department, which is overseeing the site cleanup.

Gibson Environmental used the property until 1995, when the company abandoned the site and left port officials with the responsibility to restore it. Environmental testing showed signs of petroleum waste in the soil and groundwater, requiring a $1.6 million cleanup that kicked off in October and will continue into the spring of 2007, according to Port Director Michael Giari.

“They’re removing the tanks to get rid of any residual waste in the tanks or the pipelines,” Giari said.

Once the tanks and contaminated soil and groundwater are removed, clean soil will be brought in to fill and re-grade the parcel, half of which the port hopes to use for an import terminal for aggregate rock from British Columbia.

Under the California Environmental Quality Act, the state is studying the port’s proposal for the aggregate terminal. The assessment should be complete in December, said Giari, who has not yet determined who will lease the other half of the site once it’s clean.

Removing old petroleum products — such as the oily, sludgy water in the old tanks — is necessary to protect environmental and public health, according to Blanchette.

Humans are exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons can suffer neurological effects, such as headaches and dizziness.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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