Daily News Archive
From August 6, 2001

Naval Weapons Station in California Now Formally Superfund Site

The Concord Naval Station located in the north-central part of Contra Costa County, about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco, has now been put on a formal cleanup schedule as a Superfund site, according to Environmental News Network (click here to read ENN article). The site is contaminated with heavy metals and pesticides from 60 years of operations. The site is bordered to the north by Suisun Bay and to the south and west by the city of Concord. Wastes generated on site from base operations have been disposed of in the Tidal Area since base operations began in 1942.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials say that a 20 acre area of wetlands in the western portion of the Tidal Area was a major disposal area from 1944 to 1979 and received an estimated 33,000 tons of waste. At various other wetlands sites waste generated during the segregation of conventional munitions, and wood chips contaminated with pentachlorophenol (penta) were discarded. Another potential wetland area of concern contains hazardous substances including zinc, copper, cadmium, lead, arsenic, naphthalene, and methylene chloride, in soil, sediment, or surface water.

Both penta and arsenic, found in chromated copper arsenate (CCA), are used as wood preservatives. CCA has been in the headlines as elevated levels of arsenic have been found in soil underneath playground built of CCA-treated wood. Many playgrounds in Florida were closed to protect the health of children from exposure to arsenic. Penta is contaminated with dioxins, furans and hexachlorobenzene, all of which are extremely toxic, persistent organic pollutants. For more information about the health risks of wood preservatives generally and penta specifically check out Beyond Pesticides' two reports, Pole Pollution and Poison Poles. Both reports are available on the Beyond Pesticides website.