Presidio environmental cleanup plan put forth

Eighteen of 28 sites at the Presidio contaminated by toxins from its previous use as a U.S. Army base have been recommended for environmental cleanup by state and local agencies.

Representatives from the Presidio and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control will present the proposed cleanup plan at a public meeting May 15, and the public will have until June 7 to comment on the alternatives chosen.

Although designated a national park in 1994, federal law requires the military to pay for the environmental remediation of decommissioned sites. The Army has allocated $99 million to clean up the 1,491-acre Presidio.

Five former landfills on the Presidio have already been cleaned up at a cost of more than $13 million, while another 28 contaminated sites within the Presidio have now been evaluated.

The Presidio Trust, the decision-making authority for the park, has released a draft Remedial Action Plan that recommends 18 of the sites for cleanup, while declaring 10 sites without need for further action.

The total capital cost, not including annual costs, to clean up the 18 sites is estimated at nearly $13.2 million, $7.3 million of which would go to work done at a cliff site at Baker Beach.

According to Presidio Trust documents, portions of the Baker Beach site had been used as a military dump, and metals, pesticides, PCBs, solvents and other contaminants still remain in the soil and water.

Ten sites — utilized for storage of flammable materials, pesticides and hazardous wastes, among other uses — were determined by the Presidio’s evaluators to have safe levels of contamination, and the plan states that no further cleanup action is needed.

After the public comment period ends on June 7, the Presidio Trust will put together a Final Remedial Action Plan that would then be sent to various state regulatory agencies for approval. The Presidio Trust hopes to do the cleanup work between now and 2010, according to documents on its Web site.

Richmond resident Doug Kern, who leads the community advisory board set up to help monitor the Presidio cleanup, said the group approved the remediation plan, but noted that some of the bigger and more complicated projects are still on the horizon, including the cleanup of two landfills near a former Presidio hospital building that’s slated to be developed into a 186-unit apartment complex.

The draft Remedial Action Plan can be viewed at the Presidio Trust Library, 34 Graham St., and is also available online at www.presidio.gov/nature.cleanup.

beslinger@examiner.com

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