Hazardous Waste Dump in Martinez is up for Permit Renewal

Where is it?
The Acme Fill Corporation’s hazardous waste site is located at 950 WaterBird Way – east of 680, next to the Waterbird Preserve and less than a quarter mile from a densely populated neighborhood. The entire facility and buffer zones cover 516 acres.

What’s in it? The dump contains:
• Methylene chloride – predominantly used as a solvent and a “probable human carcinogen” according to US EPA.
• Trichloroethane (methyl chloroform) – long term inhalation exposure has caused heart problems, specifically ventricular arrhythmias.
• Tetrahydrofuran – highly flammable; prolonged exposure may cause liver damage.
• Acetone – highly water soluble, so it tends to leach to groundwater; long-term exposure in animals has led to kidney, liver, and nerve damage, birth defects, and lowered ability to reproduce in males.
• Alkaline sludge – possible petroleum refinery byproduct with variable composition.
• Sand blast waste – produced by removing rust or paint (could include lead paint).
• Catalyst fines – byproduct of oil refining, specifically the catalytic cracker.
Is the dump currently active?
The dump has been active since 1957 and was closed to further dumping in 1999, so no new hazardous waste is being added. The site is capped, and the primary activity now is monitoring the solid and liquid waste that leaches out of the dump, as well as monitoring the air quality.

What is happening now?
The Acme Fill Corporation is seeking a permit from the state Department of Toxic Substances Control to continue maintaining the site. If the permit is approved, the site would move from an “Interim Status” facility to a “Post-Closure Status” facility.

There will be a public hearing on the permit:
November 5, 2014
6:30 PM
Las Juntas Elementary School, Multipurpose Room
4105 Pacheco Blvd, Martinez, CA

What are our questions?
1. What safeguards are in place to ensure that nearby waterways are not contaminated by handling and transport of the facility’s toxic byproducts? Does the facility do any soil or water testing outside the boundaries of the site (e.g., in Waterbird Regional Preserve, Pacheco Creek or Point Edith)?
2. The official fact sheet for this project states that “…contaminant concentrations are increasing in [well] PC-1B. Therefore, PC-1B may be an indicator of contaminant migration into deeper lithologic units [rock formations].” This means that contamination from the dump is spreading, possibly into groundwater. What is being done to stop the leakage of this dump into our water?
3. The draft permit states that the site is three miles from Martinez; this may be technically true, but it leads the reader to believe this hazardous waste site is safely far away from people’s homes. The site is actually less than a quarter mile from a densely populated neighborhood – how do you explain this discrepancy?
4. How often is the leached water runoff tested? What toxic substances are in the leached water runoff and how are they disposed of?
5. What gases are released from the landfill and how are they analyzed and contained? What toxics have been found in the gasses coming off the facility?
6. Has a full study been done on air quality of the surrounding area? Is there an air monitor in the facility as well as in the nearby residential neighborhood?
7. Instead of the current post-closure activities, what research has been done to find out if are there other more effective means of mitigating, containing or cleaning up the toxic substances in the landfill?
8. Have any Acme Fill employees reported health problems related to exposure to toxic substances?
9. Will dumping still be allowed within the interior of this site as it is now, or will the transfer station be the only active facility?
10. What measures are in place to address a wind-driven methane fire, should one occur?
11. How many residents of the surrounding neighborhood were notified about this comment and hearing process? How was the notice delivered and was that notice made in any language other than English?
12. The permit includes special provisions because Acme Fill Corporation has had difficulty in the past paying for the maintenance of this site. How will we know if it is being maintained?
13. What does it mean for the permit to change from Interim Status to Post-Closure Status?
14. Will this land ever be cleaned up?
15. What can we do to prevent more hazardous waste sites in our community?

Sources: California Dept. Of Toxic Substances Control documents — Draft Hazardous Waste Post Closure Facility Permit; Public Notice of Extension of Public Comment Period; memo to Office of Planning & Research re Notice of Exemption; Fact Sheet. Other sources: EPA Hazard Summaries on methylene chloride & methyl chloroform (January 2000); tetrahydrofuran Material Safety Data Sheet; U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry ToxFAQs for acetone.

About Martinez Environmental Group

We are a community health and environmental group located in Martinez, CA.
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