Sunday, April 10, 2011

Toxic Soils Not Funny

Parkwood Ave is adjacent to the toxic soils ground zero.

Here is what the neighbors along Parkwood are saying.

Several families have evacuated their homes. This is a big commitment and not done lightly. One person became seriously ill, several others developed lesions, and at least two others complained of feeling ill.

We got this almost two weeks ago from J. McGill:
We have had to move out of our home on the advice of Poison Control, my children’s pediatrician and a toxicology specialist.  All of our neighbors who were home at the time of the grading have been affected as well but we have not gotten answers from the developer, City Ventures, their environmental consultants, Stantec, the City of Encinitas, the SD County of Environmental Health or SD County of Air Pollution Control.  The standard response is that there is no data that indicates that we should be affected and suggest that we are just worried because of the health advisory sign posted at the front of the development.  That is not the case.  We are following up with our toxicologist this week and are looking to get our property tested as I fear it was contaminated with Dieldrin (found in high concentrations in various parts of the property) and possibly other pesticides that blew over during the grading process. 

So, you still think all these folks are hysterical? There was a plan in place that was approved by the county and the city. How could they get sick?

The builder was not watering all the soil that was being moved and the neighbors say the site was a dust bowl, with clouds of dust visibly drifting off-site, according to the neighbors. Well, so far we have not been able to get photos of this dust bowl, but the neighbors say the evacuees took photos. We're working on getting a photo.  

QUESTION. Who was responsible to ensure the contractor was following the rules? It is a pain to find certain documents on the city's website, so we looked at the Hall park EIR for an answer (click to enlarge):

 ANSWER. Looks like the city.

The city and developer should hold a public meeting to tell the neighbors what has happened, and if there is a reason to act, what the plan of response will be.

That's not likely to happen. The city turned a blind eye to the contamination of the Hall property, until the neighbors paid for an independent environmental assessment. Dalager and Stocks were strongly dismissive of the soils contamination. Worse, the city didn't do its homework or adequately disclose to the public all the problems with the Hall park before they bonded and overpaid for the property. There is one major public relations reason to blow off Parkwood residents.


  1. Why is this the city's fault? Take it up with the contractor, landowner, developer, insurance company.. They have deep pockets.

    The city sounds like they had a reasonable plan in place. Did you really expect them to camp out on the site and make sure the contractor didn't kick up too much dust, on a minute-by-minute basis?

    The government is not your mommy. Sometimes bad stuff happens. It's not always the government's fault.

  2. HH-

    Great point. Take some ownership and sue the developer. Not our wallets. We already have the public pensions tapping us for everything. Now we have the lawyers costs as well.

  3. HH is right. The neighbors should have hired a private inspector to watch the contractors. They didn't do that and they got sick. Hall park neighbors did that and got called bad names. I'd rather be called bad names.

  4. We don't know what has happened. If its true they contractor didn't water the soils and kids got sick as a result, the responsibility is on the contractor, and more so on the subcontractor.

    The neighbors are saying the contractor has not yet stepped up to take responsibility and they are clamming up to the press.

    The residents do expect the city is providing oversight to ensure folks are complying with their permits.

    If they are not adequately providing that function and they don't have a good enough accouting of what happened on the site they should say they don't know if there was risk to public health. It sure doesn't sound like that is what the city told them.

    If the inspectors were derelict then the taxpayer's wallets are in danger. The public can't find out about this stuff as the city won't release information or comment on department misconduct or performance.

  5. Why was this not a problem for all of the time that the greenhouses sat unused? There were certainly times when the wind whipped up dust that blew across the neighborhood. And what about before that when the chemicals were actually being used?

    I believe that the dirt moving could have exacerbated a problem that was already there, but I would be amazed if they caused it where there was no problem before.

  6. Why are the neighbors clamming up to the press? I would think this would be the time to talk to the press and get this out in the open.

  7. The pesticides get into the soil by application, spillage or dumping. These chlorinated hydrocarbons are not highly soluble and bind to organic or clay particles in the soil. They stay there until they decompose, which takes a long time with a half-life of 50-100 years.

    However, they get into the air if disturbed by grading and moving the soil around. This is where the problem begins. Exposure can be by breathing, swallowing, or by skin contact. It is the breathing that is the most pernicious. It's straight into the lungs and into the blood stream. And all these pesticides are suspected or known carcinogens. This is why they are now banned. There could be long term problems around Hymettus in 10 to 20 years.

    City Ventures is also the developer on the Brown property on Lake Drive in Cardiff. There is documented contamination there also. The plan is the same - bury the toxic soil. The Hall property is the biggest parcel of all. And whose the developer? The city itself!

    The city does not allow toxic soil to be buried under public right-of-way, only under homes. Why? Because city workers might be endangered if required to do any work in the right-of-way. Yet the city is flaunting this policy on the Hall property where a less restrictive "recreational standard" was used to judge the level of contamination rather than the much tougher "residential standard." Thus any exposure to residents and city workers will be much worse.


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