Port to tackle pile of construction waste

A massive waterfront pile of rubble that has sat abandoned for several years may soon be chewed up by a new concrete-recycling plant and used in footpaths and other city projects.

Bushes, 12-foot trees and lived-in tents with panoramic views of The City and Bay have sprouted high above an industrial swathe of waterfront on the 120,000-ton pile of concrete, rock and asphalt next to Pier 94. The debris has been abandoned since a recycling operation went belly-up several years ago.

Commissioners at the Port of San Francisco, which owns the land beneath the pile, recently voted to enter into exclusive negotiations with Raisch Products and S.F. Recycling and Disposal Co. to build and operate a recycling plant at the site to process the concrete in the pile. Port staff selected the team through a formal process.

It would cost the Port around $1 million to recycle the existing pile of construction waste, according to project manager Brad Benson. He said that high cost led the Port to investigate leasing the land for a permanent recyclingfacility.

The new 5-acre facility would crush the existing pile “at rates that would be negotiated with the Port,” Benson recently told commissioners, and it would operate a concrete-only recycling operation.

San Francisco uses different types of materials beneath its roads than most other jurisdictions, which reduces its potential to use a typical recycled rubble-and-asphalt mix in road-building projects, according to Benson.

“We lack an important market that other jurisdictions have,” Benson said. “In San Francisco we have sandy soils; we have a propensity for sinkholes; there’s a great deal of seismic risk in The City. For those reasons, [the Department of Public Works] uses a concrete subbase under roads.”

But a city law passed in March by the Board of Supervisors directs officials to require contractors to use recycled concrete whenever possible in nonstructural applications such as footpaths, gutters, curbs and curb ramps.

City Government Recycling Coordinator Paul Ledesma said the new law will help The City use concrete that’s recycled at Pier 94 instead of material that’s currently being “dredged out of riverbeds in British Columbia.”

Wetlands rehab has a success

Conservationists who introduced a type of rare succulent plant to restored wetlands at Pier 94 are celebrating after the first self-propagated seedlings were discovered growing near the reintroduced colony. California sea-blite is native to the wetlands of San Francisco and Morro bays, but it disappeared from San Francisco Bay in 1960, according to wetlands consultant Peter Baye.

Baye said Morro Bay colonies were transplanted in recent years to Crissy Field Marsh and Heron’s Head Park in San Francisco, but those populations never really took off. Hundreds of volunteers coordinated by the Golden Gate Audubon Society since 2005 have helped the Port of San Francisco convert an isolated patch of waterfront near a recycling plant at Pier 94 into restored wetlands, Baye said.

The group introduced some of the California sea-blite specimens to the Pier 94 wetlands in 2006, Baye said.

Baye said he discovered two sturdy California sea-blite seedlings growing in the sand last month.

jupton@examiner.com

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