Navy to Create New Wetlands at Alameda Point
The Navy is nearing completion of plans for a cleanup area called Site 32, 60 acres that lie on the old airfield west of the Alameda Point Antiques Faire. The site requires remediation because investigators uncovered radium-226 there. The Navy mixed radium-226, a naturally occurring mineral, with paint to allow dials and markers to glow in the dark. Repeated exposure to high levels of radium can cause cancer.
The Navy collected radium-impacted waste, such as used paint brushes from refurbishing dials and gauges, scraping solids and rags, from its dial painting shop on a regular basis and discarded them at the Site 1 underground dump adjacent to Site 32. The Navy presumes that the radium-impacted items were spread beyond the dump site when it expanded the runway there in the 1950s.
The plan calls for re-engineering existing wetlands and expanding them by covering the entire site with three feet of clean soil. The Navy will demolish several buildings on the site, but keep the massive 5,000-square-foot concrete bunker in place. Rather than removing it, the Navy will cover the bunker with soil and plants. This will enhance the watershed for the two wetlands. The Navy will also expand the existing 10 acres of wetland to 15 acres and double the size of the current watershed. The Navy will plant native grasses and shrubs throughout Site 32’s 60 acres.
In order to ensure that the seeds will sprout and thrive, the contractor is planning to install a temporary irrigation system. Seeded soil covers at two other remediation sites on the old airfield have struggled due to drought and unreliable rainfall, requiring re-seeding in both cases. On this project, the contractor is responsible for the success of the vegetation for 18 months, according to Cecily Sabedra, environmental coordinator for the Navy.