Contaminated Soil Used to Fill Trench Halts Work on Oakland Army Base Project

Groundbreaking last November for the first 
phase of the Oakland Global project.
PHOTO/Steven Tavares 

OAKLAND CITY COUNCIL | A subcontractor doing work at the Oakland Army improperly filled a utility trench with approximately 20,000 cubic yards of untested soil left over by a former tenant and later found to be contaminated, city staff members said Tuesday. Urban Recycling Solutions, the property’s former tenant, has ties to Councilmember Larry Reid and was accused last year of receiving a sweetheart deal allowing it to also accept industrial waste.

The cost of removing the significant amount of soil could be between $2-3 million, said Doug Cole of the city’s Office of Neighborhood Investment. However, overtures have already been made to the former tenant for bearing some of  the clean up costs, Cole added, along with the subcontractor who may have violated protocol by filling the trench without first testing the soil. The subcontractor involved is Morrow-Meadows Corporation of Redwood City. In the meantime, as owner of the property, the city may have front the cost of removal, said Cole.

In April, the Oakland Post reported news of the delay at the large-scale Army Base project backed by Oakland developer Phil Tagami. The report, however, only attributed the delay to substandard work on the utility corridor for underground wiring. It also reported the need for a larger concrete cap on the conduit. Cole added, Tuesday, the city is in disagreement with the Port of Oakland over the size of the concrete cap.

The potential delay for work on the joint trench could be one year, said Cole. John Monetta, the city’s project manager for the Oakland Army Base, however, said while work on the joint trench, for now, will come to a halt, the overall timetable for the project will not likely change.

News of the contaminated soil was not included in the report given Tuesday to the Oakland City Council Community and Economic Development Committee, but referenced in public comment by an Oakland resident. Councilmembers Lynette Gibson McElhaney and Reid were critical of its exclusion and urged Monetta bring such matters to the committee more promptly in the future.

“Twenty thousand yards of contaminated soil–wow,” said Reid following the explanation from city staff. Reid, though, has some ties to the former tenant, Urban Recycling Solutions. Last year, its owner, Tom Chasm, was accused of currying favor with Reid through City Hall insider Darrel Carey. The allegation asserted Chasm paid Carey $1,000 to lobby Reid to approve conditions that would allow the company to begin accepting industrial waste such as soil, concrete and asphalt. In return, they claimed Reid requested $50,000 toward his retirement, which Reid vehemently denied.

Advertisements