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U.S. Navy agrees to clean up toxic legacy at Moffett Field Wetlands
Save The Bay Hails Navy Turnaround as Victory for San Francisco Bay
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA - Mon Jun 27 , 2005 -
The U.S. Navy has reversed its long-standing position and agreed to community demands for a full cleanup of toxic Superfund Site 25 located on the Bay shoreline at the former Moffett Field Naval Air Station.
“Intense public demand for a full cleanup finally forced the Navy to change its approach and remove the toxic mess it left behind,” said Save The Bay Executive Director David Lewis. “It took years of intense community pressure for the Navy to respond to the community,”
The Navy’s Draft Addendum to the Revised Final Station-Wide Feasibility Study for Site 25 for the first time recommends a cleanup alternative that would allow tidal marsh restoration without contamination of wildlife, notably to threatened and endangered species like the California clapper rail and the Alameda song sparrow.
Moffett Field was once part of a continuous band of pristine tidal marshes along the South Bay shoreline and a critical part of the Bay’s ecology. During the Navy’s occupancy, it turned 260 acres of wetlands that had been diked and separated from the Bay into a catch basin for stormwater runoff loaded with DDT, PCBs, lead and zinc.
The Navy’s proposed Site 25 cleanup plan calls for excavation of up to 61,500 cubic yards of contaminated sediment and transport of the sediment to a permitted disposal facility, at an estimated cost of $6.7 million.
The Navy’s decision comes nearly five years after Save The Bay and local community organizations offered a “Vision for Moffett Field,” a blueprint for clean up and restoration of tidal marsh habitat at Site 25. A broad coalition of residents, local, state and federal elected officials campaigned strenuously for full cleanup, which was repeatedly rejected by both the Navy and the National Aeronautic and Atmospheric Administration (NASA), the current site tenant.
Save The Bay’s Moffett campaign prompted more than 2,000 letters and emails to the Navy demanding a full cleanup, written requests from U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo, and a letter from sixteen community organizations to the Navy. Save The Bay’s local advertising illustrated threats to endangered species posed by the Navy’s toxic legacy, and mobilized public rallies at Navy and NASA events to demand cleanup.
“Mountain View and the surrounding communities are reclaiming their shoreline and giving the Bay the voice it needs,” said Lewis. “Our quality of life depends on a healthy and vibrant Bay.”
Site 25 was placed on the Superfund list in 1987. A 1990 Federal Facility agreement assigned the Navy responsibility for cleaning up Site 25, which it saturated with toxic chemicals while using Moffett Field as an air field for 75 years. The federal government closed the military base in 1994. After years of stalling, the Navy first proposed removing only some toxics, leaving fish and wildlife vulnerable to contamination.
Today, Moffett Field and Site 25 are managed by the NASA/Ames Research Center. Restoration of the Moffett wetlands would return them to their natural function as wildlife habitat, adjacent to the South Bay Salt Ponds - the largest wetland restoration project ever planned on the West Coast.
“When the Navy follows through on this plan and completes a full cleanup, this site will be able to support tidal marsh that provides safe habitat for fish and wildlife and improves Bay water quality.” said Lewis.
For more information about Save The Bay’s Moffett campaign, visit www.saveSFbay.org.
About Save The Bay
Save The Bay is the oldest and largest organization working exclusively to celebrate, protect and restore San Francisco Bay. Save The Bay wages campaigns to reduce the impacts of urban sprawl and pollution, restore Bay health, and create public access to the Bay. Save The Bay is a 501(c) 3 non-profit with 10,000 members in the region.