Twenty years ago, one of Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty’s first pet projects was to stop the hauling of contaminated earth from the construction site of PacBell Park (now known as AT&T Park) in San Francisco to landfills in the Tri Valley.
The soil from Hunter’s Point contained benzene and other harmful chemicals. After hearings were held, the so-called “dirty dirt” was removed and taken to a hazardous waste landfill.
“Had we not had the hearings and made them pull it out, it would still be in that landfill and probably by now would be in our aquifer,” Haggerty said Tuesday during an Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting to extend a moratorium on the importation of contaminated debris and soil into the agricultural areas of Alameda County.
The board last month issued a 45-day moratorium on the practice after county officials in recent months learned of a number of instances when large, untested, contaminated soil had been trucked into east county. With the issue still unresolved, a county staff report last week recommended the board extend the moratorium another 10 months and 15 days to May 2019.
The board instead chose a 60-day extension that will bring the item back, along with a proposed ordinance, by Sept. 20. But the decision was not made without disagreement among the supervisors who represent Alameda County’s agricultural areas.
Haggerty, who represents a large portion of the Tri Valley, says the county does not know the content of earth being trucked in, nor does it have a method for test it. He responded with incredulity when the board’s other Tri Valley representative, Supervisor Nate Miley, urged twice for the moratorium to lapse to allow ranchers to fill in their lands before the winter, and then reinstate the moratorium. Tuesday’s vote was 4-0, with Miley abstaining.
“There are some people who are doing it right. There are a lot of people who are just flat-out taking garbage and they are taking dirty dirt. We’re the ones who are supposed to be taking care of the environment,” said Haggerty, who continue his remarks directed at Miley.
“We’re the stewards of protecting the environmental health of the county and by just flat-out letting the moratorium to expire and allowing what we know is wrong. We know there is a lot of dirty actors out there. Also putting the good people at a disadvantage is wrong, too.”
Miley acknowledged the practice of importing dirty dirt is occurring in east county and that haulers are exploiting Alameda County’s lack of regulations against the practice as opposing to more stringent rules in neighboring counties.
But Miley pushed again to allow the moratorium to expire for a time before reinstating it, leading Haggerty to respond with exasperation. “Nate, how do we do that consciously knowing what people are doing out in east county? I’m sorry. I’m not going to be the most popular person in the Ag District. I get that.