UC Berkeley Hazardous Waste
Handling Facility

   

Toxic Waste Site Stirs Controversy
Tara Suan, Daily Californian August 19, 1994

wate sign

The University of California has released the long anticipated environmental impact report which reaffirms Strawberry Canyon as the primary site for a new radioactive waste facility. According to the report, Strawberry Canyon is preferable to a central campus site, such as an alternative site below the Stanley Hall parking lot, because the canyon area is more isolated than the other choices.

The university says, "Yes, we are concerned about waste minimization," but in reality what they're talking about is the same old waste management: "Let's just build a bigger facility."- Bradley Angel Greenpeace Southwest Toxics coordinator

"If you weigh health and safety concerns as more important than other resource concerns, you could say the Strawberry Canyon site is environmentally superior to other sites.” said UC Senior Planner Christine Mortimer. The proposed site, located across from the Haas Clubhouse and swimming pools in Strawberry Canyon, is on university property. The area has been heavily criticized by community and student environmental groups. The groups say the site is a hazard to local neighborhoods since it is located in an area that is prone to natural disasters, including fires, earthquakes and landslides.

A number of community activists rushed to pick up the report, which was released one week ago. Activists who have read the report said it still does not specifically address certain legal issues and does not make a sincere attempt to find alternative locations to the canyon site.

 "The document is incomplete," said Fredrica Drotos, chair of the Committee to Minimize Toxic Waste of the Panoramic Hills Association. Drotos said only a small portion of the document is devoted to looking into alternative site locations. "They are white-washing people's concerns and questions,” she said.

Mortimer said the draft report is designed to look into the environmental impacts of the proposed site in Strawberry Creek, and then look at the impacts associated with a short list of alternative locations.

"The Strawberry Canyon site had been chosen early on," she said. "The alternatives we considered were changed based on public concerns."

"Really the criticism has to do with a perception problem," Mortimer added. "The neighborhoods from which a lot of the people who are opposed to the canyon site reside are actually just as close to the central campus locations as to the hill site."

But Drotos and other critics of the report level their criticism at other aspects of the site proposal.

Carolyn Erbele, a member of the Berkeley Community Environmental Advisory Commission, was concerned the isolated site location would be more dangerous than a central campus site. Erbele said Berkeley Fire Department officials told the university they would rather not have to protect the facility at the remote location.

waste sign"The location would create extremely dangerous conditions for both approaching emergency personnel and evacuating vehicles," said Erbele. "On the other hand, Callaghan Hall could be reached by the city's hazardous materials team in less than five minutes."

Drotos said the report did not address the current California Environmental Protection standards for safe packaging and transportation of hazardous and radioactive waste facilities. According to a state Department of Toxic Substances Control memorandum addressed to UC Berkeley Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien, the university is violating two sections of the state code of regulations and one section of the state health and safety code. -

According to the health and safety code, the university failed to properly package hazardous waste during transport. Mortimer said the violations were purely procedural. "Essentially the complaint is a matter of how things are labeled," she said. "The university is currently involved in negotiations with the California (Environmental Protection Agency) and when we come to a solution -the procedures will be amended."

But Drotos said the transportation of wastes along public streets was not solely a labeling issue. "The university is trying to make light of the issue but the fact is they are breaking the law."

Greenpeace Southwest Toxics Coordinator Bradley Angel criticized not only the report but the university's entire waste minimization program. “The university is planning, while paying lip service to reducing waste, a four-size expansion of the size of this facility," said Angel. "The university says, "Yes, we are concerned about waste minimization,' but in reality what they're talking about is the same old waste management: Let's just build a bigger facility."

Circus Rally Protests UC Toxic Dump
By Miranda Leitsinger, Daily Californian, September 1994

A troupe of jugglers, clowns and unicyclists transformed Sproul Plaza into a "toxic circus" on Tuesday in symbolic protest of UC Berkeley's plan to build a new hazardous materials facility on university property. As a colorful assortment of entertainers tossed and pedaled their way past black steel drum barrels, demonstrators inflated a gigantic balloon marked "radioactive waste" and unfurled banners decrying the university's handling of unwanted chemicals.

“Tien is clowning around with radioactivity," read one banner that included a picture of Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien dressed as a clown. "110 tons of toxic waste per year, coming to a site near you!" read another.

"This is a light way to represent the university's cavalier attitude to where they are dumping toxic waste," said Berkeley resident Carolyn Erbele, a member of a 13-group coalition called the Bay Area Coalition Opposed to UC Toxics. One of the three jugglers on hand at the rally - who called himself Do!Da! Man - said the point of the demonstration was to depict the university as "a three-ring circus juggling with our health."

Several members of local environmental groups called on students and passersby to become involved with the toxic waste facility issue. Greenpeace member Bradley Angel said, "We need to take responsibility. The dumping of toxic waste endangers us all."

Also present at the noon rally were Wavy Gravy and Country Joe McDonald of Woodstock fame. To the delight of the crowd, McDonald performed with his guitar. "They take all our money to give us pollution ... we can come together in a global solution," he sang. Although activists in the past have directed their criticism toward site selection of the toxic facility, rally participants urged the university to decrease the amount of waste it produces each year. "The real solution is reduction," Angel said.

Student reaction to the acrobatic display was mixed. Setsuko Tateno, a senior ­ anthropology major, said, "Students do not care about the issue. People stop and look, and then go on." But Gabe Miller, a senior political science major, was enthusiastic about the event, saying, "I think the issue is important. I did not know about it before and this demonstration informed me."

Strawberry Canyon Waste Facility
L A Wood, September 1994

After months of deliberation, the U. C. Berkeley campus has finally released the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for its proposed hazardous waste site. This plan to build a chemical waste, facility in Strawberry Canyon has come under fire by both the Berkeley community and City Council.

The objections raised to the Strawberry Canyon site as the preferred location have focused on the health and safety risks associated with potential canyon fires and earthquake. The City Council has asked numerous times to be a part of the decision process for the hazardous waste facility location, and that the chemical and low level radioactive storage not be constructed in the canyon. To date, the University has ignored these requests and continues to hold the Strawberry Canyon site as the preferred site.

The mounting criticism to the Strawberry Canyon site selection came to a head last week with the premiere of the advocacy video, "Campus Chemical Waste: Disaster in the Planning". The video features Berkeley's Fire Chief along with other community members and illustrates their frustration with the University's site selection process and waste stream reduction program. In a full turnabout, the Chancellor announced a major change in the EIR and the site selection. This comes just two weeks before the University planned Public Hearing and only two days before the Berkeley Planning Department's own ElR hearing.

In a newspaper statement last Tuesday, the University said that Callaghan Hall would become the preferred site. Because the EIR was directed at the Strawberry Canyon site, and not at Callaghan, the report currently under review has ceased to be the real EIR. This sudden change of direction has disrupted the review process and left the Berkeley Council to speculate on the Callaghan site. At this same time, the Council and the community are being asked to give final comment on the EIR developed for the Strawberry Canyon location. The University insists the process must move forward to meet budgetary review by the Regents in January '95.

This last minute maneuvering of the EIR is an attempt to distort the public review process. There is no question that the City of Berkeley is being teased by the prospect of a site change while the University heads off public comment and debate. The EIR process has become a paradox where this three inch thick document (EIR) and two years worth of evaluation has left both the University and the Berkeley city government in a state of limbo.

At the City Council meeting of September 20th, councilmembers were uncertain how to respond to the EIR switch. Should they ask for an extension of the comment period for this incomplete ElR? For which EIR evaluation or site would it be appropriate to fund a study? In the confusion, Mayor Leiter concluded that he would ask the University to decide this next week what their intentions were with regard to the EIR process and site selection.

The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) was enacted to insure that the public could be involved in community decisions that potentially affect their health and safety. However, when U.C., just days before the scheduled Public Hearing, switches or offers an incomplete EIR, the effect is stifling to any public participation. The University, in one very calculated move, has altered the EIR and the goals of CEQA. And this has turned both into a sham.

At the Berkeley Planning Commission Public Hearing last week, Director of Planning for U.C., Michael Dobbins, explained that the preliminary analysis over the next four weeks should prove the Callaghan site acceptable so they can move forward to complete the original EIR. He also stated that if all goes well with the final analysis, the Callaghan site could become the preferred hazardous waste site in the next couple months. Knowing the uncertainty of the University's administrative process as reflected in the recent changes to this project, the fate of the Callaghan Hall site appears to be unsure.

Callaghan Hall is situated next to Edwards Stadium and the steam plant at the southwest corner of the central campus. The development plans of the steam plant, Callaghan's close proximity to BART, and student resistance to this site have not been measured. These problems or any others with the Callaghan site will force the University to turn quickly to the Strawberry Canyon location, if only to meet it’s targeted goals of budget review and funding in the next fiscal year. This project will be forced onto our community, like many other U.C. developments have been, lacking in integrity and reeking with deception.

U. C.'s Planning Department is fixed on the idea of a Strawberry Canyon site. Today, this location remains the preferred site. The University's last minute changes in the EIR, the attempt to dilute citizen participation, and time are all working to this end. Come and speak at the Public Hearing September 29th, International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave., 7 to 10 P.M. Let your voice be heard. Stop U.C.'s hazardous waste site in Strawberry Canyon!

Video Opposing UC Waste Site Debuts Today
Film makers take protest to Berkeley City Hall.
Janet Wells, San Francisco Chronicle, September 16, 1994

Coming today at a theater near you - or, at least the steps of Berkeley's City Hall: the premiere showing of "Campus Chemical Waste: Disaster in the Planning."

"This is a kickoff to mobilization," said Wood. "Everyone says this is a NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard) thing, but it's an issue that has crossed the city and crossed the political lines. We're trying to say that UC needs to change the decision-making process and reevaluate the sites." The 13-minute production documents controversy over a proposal by the University of California at Berkeley to build a $9.5 million hazardous-materials transfer facility in the rolling hills above campus.

The video, by Berkeley activists L A Wood and Carolyn Erbele, features comments from community and university officials with footage of toxic storage containers looming behind cyclone fences and shots of the 1991 fire raging through the East Bay hills. Equipped with a videocassette recorder, a television and a small gas generator, Wood and Erbele plan to show their low-budget production from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and again next week.

Berkeley hills neighbors have' mustered support from city officials, students, environmental leaders and city residents In opposing the university's preferred plan for expanding its overloaded hazardous-waste facility. The university for more than 20 years has operated the Canyon Chemical Facility (acid house) in the hills above Memorial Stadium, where 110 tons of chemical and low-level radioactive waste generated each year by hundreds of labs on campus are packaged. The facility stores the materials for up to 90 days until trucks transport the containers to recyclers and dumps around the country.

With the amount of scientific research increasing on campus and more demanding regulations on waste handling, the university needs d more sophisticated and roomier facility. A draft environmental Impact report released last month identified a site one-quarter of a mile away from the current facility as the best spot for expansion.

But community advocates say the site is too close to houses and in an area prone to fires, earthquakes and mudslides. Berkeley Fire Chief Gary Cates, speaking in the video, agreed: "If the university is successful in locating the site here, it will be contrary to the efforts made by the city to mitigate fire hazards."

Community advocates have called on the university to respond to its waste-handling problems by reducing the amount produced and by putting the new transfer facility on campus close to labs. "We do want to replace the current facility, but we are responsive to the community," said Michael Dobbins, the university's director of physical and environmental planning.

"It's important for the public to understand that the Callaghan Hall site (on campus) is a serious option that we will be studying more over the next few weeks." Public hearings on the draft environmental impact report are scheduled for September 29. The City Council earlier opposed putting a new waste facility in Strawberry Canyon. The council is expected to vote Tuesday to show the video at its meeting September 27.

UC Berkeley looks at alternate place to store toxic waste
William Brand Oakland Tribune, September 17, 1994

BERKELEY - After insisting for more than a year that the preferred site for a new toxic waste storage facility is Strawberry Canyon, UC Berkeley officials said Friday they are looking at an alternate site in the central campus area.

"We are seriously considering a location at Callaghan Hall as an alternative to Strawberry Canyon," said David Duncan, who was acting director of environmental and physical planning at the University of California, Berkeley, on Friday in the absence of director Michael Dobbins.

Both sites were evaluated in an environmental impact report recently released by the university. But Duncan said the university needs more detail on the Callahan site before a decision can be made. A further study of Callaghan has been ordered. A third site near Stanley Hall will not be studied further, he said.

The university has stated consistently that it believes Strawberry Canyon is the best place for the $9 million, 18,500-square-foot temporary storage facility for toxic waste generated in university labs. It is intended to replace an older facility in the canyon. The canyon site has been intensely criticized by environmentalists and Berkeley citizens, because it is 1,500 feet from the Hayward Fault and in an area of high fire risk. Adding to the protest Friday, a 15-minute video,"Campus Chemical Waste: Disaster in the Planning," prepared by two environmentalists warning of the dangers of the Strawberry location was shown on the steps of City Hall. An appreciative audience stopped to cheer.

As the camera pans out over the highly urban East Bay and then shows the Strawberry canyon site, a UC expert lists wastes to be stored in the facility - 9,000 different chemicals and 600 tons of low-level radioactive waste. The video also features Berkeley Fire Chief Gary Gates illustrating the fire dangers of the Strawberry site. UC's Dobbins explains that the university worries about putting the toxics in the densely populated central campus, which has always been UC's objection to the Callaghan site.

The video is scheduled to be shown to the Berkeley City Council Sept. 27. The video producers, L A Wood and Carolyn Erbele, said they have invited Berkeley Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien and other UC officials to watch the production. “So far, nobody from UC has taken us up,” Wood said. "But I think we've had an impact. Today was the first time I ever heard a UC official say they were seriously considering a site other than Strawberry.”

Callaghan Hall Proposed as New Toxic Waste Site
Strawberry Canyon secondary option
Miranda Leitsinger, Daily Californian, September 20, 1994

The debate over the location of UC Berkeley's new toxic waste facility has taken a new turn with a university proposal that Callaghan Hall may be the best place to store its hazardous materials.

"We are looking closer at the feasibility of the Callaghan Hall site." said Katherine Mortimer, a senior planner with the office of physical and environmental planning. "We are taking another step in the level of analysis," she added. "It seems it might be able to work." Callaghan Hall currently houses the Reserve Officers Training Corps and is located next to the campus heating plant. If selected as the new site, Callaghan would house low-level radioactive waste and unwanted chemicals generated by the campus.

Some people have questioned whether the Callaghan site is safe because it is in the middle of a populated campus. But Susan Spencer, director of the university's office of environment, health and safety, said a study has shown that regardless of where an alternate facility would be located, the "potential for release and exposure is very small."

Consequently, "this discovery has led to open up additional sites for the facility," she said. The search for alternate sites comes 20 years after the university began operating the Canyon Chemical Facility in the hills above Memorial Stadium. The facility, which is home to 110 tons of toxic waste each year, can no longer handle the volume and types of toxic waste.

The focus on Callaghan comes as an about-face after a year of serious consideration of a site in Strawberry Canyon for UC Berkeley's new $9.5 million facility. The university has encountered strong opposition to the Strawberry Canyon site. Several environmental groups have formed a coalition called BAC-OUT (Bay Area Coalition Opposed to UC Toxics), applying pressure on the university to consider alternate sites.

L A Wood and Carolyn Erbele, two Berkeley activists who are members of BAC-OUT, have produced a 13-minute video entitled. "Campus Chemical Waste: Disaster in the Planning." The video, which the activists debuted on Friday at City Hall, raises questions about the canyon site because of its proximity to the Hayward fault line - just 1,500 feet away - and its location in areas known for mudslides and fires. Among those featured in the video is Berkeley Fire Chief Gary Cates, who said the canyon site would be "contrary to the efforts made by the city to mitigate fire hazards."

Meanwhile, university officials have ordered a further study of the Callaghan site. Although UC Berkeley was slated to make its recommendations about a final site to the UC Board of Regents in January, it may take longer before that happens, Mortimer said. "If it gets to the point that we will offer Callaghan Hall as the site, (the recommendation) will be delayed."

Wood and Erbele are planning to show their video at the Sept. 27 meeting of the Berkeley City Council. Two public hearings about the university's draft environmental impact report - which includes the canyon and Callaghan Hall sites have been scheduled for Sept. 29. The hearings will take place in the International House at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.

UC reconsiders Toxic waste storage site
Will Harper, Berkeley Voice, September 22, 1994

In a sudden turn of events, the university is considering putting its controversial new $9.5 million toxic waste facility on campus instead of in the Berkeley hills.

At Tuesday night's City Council meeting Mayor Jeffrey Leiter said university officials had identified Callaghan Hall as a potential alternative to a previously proposed site in Strawberry Canyon. Based upon recent conversations with the office of UC Berkeley Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien, Leiter said the university is questioning the results of a draft environmental impact report that suggested Strawberry Canyon was the best place for toxic waste facility.

"I think we're making some progress toward a resolution," Leiter said. The mayor said he hoped the university would make a firm decision as to where it wanted to locate the toxic waste site in the next week.

Earlier this year the council unanimously passed a resolution expressing its opposition to placing a waste facility in Strawberry Canyon, which is near the Hayward fault and one-quarter mile from the current waste site. Tuesday night the council reaffirmed its opposition. "It would be insanity locate a facility like that" in Strawberry Canyon, said Councilmember Dona Spring.

The proposed hills site generated strong opposition from neighbors, students, environmentalists and city officials-including Berkeley Fire Chief Gary Cates who said its fire and earthquake prone location presented a serious threat to nearby residents.

The current Canyon Chemical Facility, located in the hills above Memorial Stadium, has operated for more than 20 years. But recently the site, which gathers 110 tons of chemical and low-level radioactive waste from university labs each year, has become overloaded, motivating UC officials to seek a new site.

Neighborhood activist L A Wood, who co-produced a 13-minute video called "Campus Chemical Waste: Disaster in the Planning," was pleased by the apparent change of heart, but remained skeptical the university would entirely abandon its plans to locate a toxic waste facility in Strawberry Canyon.

"My opinion is that Strawberry Canyon isn't a secondary option, but no option at all," he said. Wood credited widespread community pressure for forcing the university to reconsider its position. "They can't afford to have this kind of (negative) P.R.," he said. "Volleyball courts are one thing, toxic waste facilities are another." Wood and Carolyn Erbele previewed their video last Friday on the front steps of City Hall.

University officials couldn't be reached for comment before press time, but they have reportedly ordered further study of the Callaghan Hall site. UC Berkeley planners say the potential for toxic exposure there is minimal. Callaghan Hall, which is located next to the campus heating plant, is currently being used by university reserve officers. A preliminary city planning report supporting the Strawberry Canyon site, slated to be given to the Planning Commission this week, was hastily removed from the commission's agenda packet.

Planning Director Gil Kelley told the council that statements in the report supporting the Strawberry Canyon site were "made too preliminarily." He said city staff would continue to review and study the situation and provide a final report to the council next month. The preliminary city staff report said the hills site was preferable because of "the relatively low population density of the canyon area in comparison with the other alternatives being considered which are on the central campus and therefore expose a much greater number of people to potential risk in the event of a major earthquake or other disaster." A public hearing on the draft EIR will be held Sept. 29 at the International House on 2299 Piedmont Ave.

UC urged to be socially, environmentally responsible
Carolyn Erbele, September 29, 1994

The university continues to push for a hasty evaluation of its plans to replace its hazardous and radioactive waste-handling facility. This new facility is slated to be four times larger and on a different site than the old one. Until recently, UC's unwavering preferred site for this project has been Strawberry Canyon.

The university contacted the mayor of Berkeley on Sept. 20 with an announcement that the Callaghan Hall parking lot, a central campus location, was being considered as the preferred site. Although this is a hopeful development in the search for the safest site possible, many people are questioning the sincerity of UC's apparent change of heart.

The announcement has certainly confused the whole public process, coming as it did 10 days before the public hearing on Sept. 29, which is supposed to be about the draft EIR of the Strawberry Canyon site. UC's dismal lack of respect for the public's input, as evidenced by the timing of this change, casts grave suspicions on its motives. Those who have spent weeks helping to organize the community's formal response to this project, or what was this project, feel UC is deliberately trying to discourage, dilute, and confuse that process.

Until the city of Berkeley possesses a written declaration from the university stating that a Strawberry Canyon site is and will not be an option for this hazardous waste facility, it is entirely plausible that after a few weeks of study, UC will eliminate Callaghan as a possible site. A Strawberry Canyon site could easily show up as the preferred option again, only this time with even more pressure from UCB to quickly complete the EIR process in order to gain the regents' approval at their January meeting.

 Besides finding a suitable site, the most important issue at stake here is waste minimization. Despite many excellent programs to curtail toxic waste production at UC, no overall decrease in volume of pollutants can be quantified, according to the campus' hazardous waste manager, Pat Gough. The Waste Facilities Options Report of 1992 estimates UC's chemical waste at 50 tons annually. The September '92 Project Planning Guide lists 110 tons while the Senate bill report, SB 14, cites 170 tons.

The fact is that the University of California is a giant industrial presence whose waste streams are not being minimized, but instead, are increasing exponentially. That's because UC doesn't want any limits placed on its ability to expand their science programs and labs in Berkeley.

At a community forum last April, citizens were told the draft EIR would present UC's waste minimization program in detail since it is being claimed as a crucial mitigating factor for any site being considered for the replacement facility. A description of that program occupies all of four pages out of that entire two-inch-thick document. No numerical targets or goals are given. If this program is going to be claimed as a mitigating factor for any site, it must be more than a meaningless paper program. A minimization program, by definition, must result in an overall decrease in volume of toxic waste.

One of the signs on the current waste facility says, "This facility contains one or more chemicals known by the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive harm."

It must be pointed out that these hazardous byproducts are shipped by UC to other communities, like East Palo Alto, where they are incinerated, thus poisoning those poor, minority neighborhoods.

My challenge to the University of California is, that since they are such a prestigious, large, research institution, a significant portion of their research be dedicated to finding sustainable ways of living on this planet.

My challenge to Berkeley's City Council is to demand a written document from UC stating that Strawberry Canyon is no longer an option as a site for this new facility.

My challenge to Berkeley's citizens is to pursue any and all avenues of participation which are expressly guaranteed you by law. Write to Chancellor Tien at 200 California Hall, No. 1500, UCB, Berkeley 94720.

Attend the Public Hearing on Sept. 29 from 7 to 10 p.m. at International House, corner of Bancroft and Piedmont. Any testimony or written comments will become part of the final Environmental Impact Report.

In an effort to provide the public with an effective organizing tool regarding this complex project, I produced a short video entitled "Campus Chemical Waste: Disaster in the Planning".

UC Berkeley May Relent On Toxic Site
Janet Wells, San Francisco Chronicle, September 30, 1994

The fire and earthquake-prone hills above the University of California at Berkeley campus may not be the best site for a controversial new toxics facility, university officials conceded publicly for the first time yesterday. An environmental impact report recently identified the Strawberry Canyon hills above Memorial Stadium as the preferred site for a hazardous waste transfer and storage center, but the university is now seriously considering a site on the central campus.

The university’s switch came after more than a year of pressure – from neighborhood groups and – city officials to put the facility on the central campus, closer to labs that annually produce the university’s 110 tons of chemical and low-level radioactive waste. The alternative site, Callaghan Hall, is next to Harmon Gym. University officials, who discussed the toxic waste center at a public hearing yesterday, said they have been working with the community all along.

“Some would call it pressure, but in my mind there has been an evolution of interacting with the community,” said Michael Dobbins, director of physical and environmental planning at U.C. But the battle over the toxics facility is far from resolved, since the university has not yet formally announced its decision on the location of the facility.

“If Disney can drop a multimillion dollar project (to build a Civil War theme park), if Mickey Mouse can relent and go somewhere else, why can’t the university for once agree to drop a project that is inappropriate, poses environmental hazards and has community opposition?” asked Berkeley Planning Commissioner Clifford Fred.

University officials will decide by the end of October If the Callaghan site is the best site for the $9.5 million project. If that site takes the lead, the university would have to reissue the draft environmental impact report and hold further public hearings. The university has operated a hazardous waste facility for 20 years in Strawberry Canyon, with no accidents or injuries. That facility packages toxic materials, and provides storage for up to 90 days until trucks transport the materials to recyclers and dump sites around the country.

With the amount of scientific research increasing on campus, and more demanding regulations on toxics handling, university planners say they need a more sophisticated and roomier facility. Many at yesterday’s public hearings called for the university to significantly reduce the amount of waste generated rather than expand the handling facility.

As mandated by state law, UC Berkeley has a waste reduction plan that calls for redesigning undergraduate curriculum to do fewer experiments using smaller glassware, and to recycle chemical leftovers. Although state toxics regulations apply equally to industry and research universities, regulators have traditionally focused on big business.

 ‘We feel that industry has responded by improving hazardous waste handling practices,” said Allan Hirsch, spokesman for the state Department of Toxic Substances Control. “Now we are focusing more and more on universities.”

Is UC Backing Down From Strawberry Canyon Waste Site Plan?
Ralph Jennings, East Bay Express, September 30, 1994 

Like most wildfires, civic activism usually starts and ends small. Opposition to a looming development may burn hot at public hearings, but the flames of controversy rarely spread outside the affected neighborhood. But like some wildfires a dispute that starts small can unexpectedly become a much larger conflagration.

0ver the last year, the university's plan to put a new toxic waste repository in Strawberry Canyon near the Hayward Fault has ignited a firestorm of disapproval. Once confined to the notoriously NIMBYist Panoramic Hill area, anxiety over the possibility of chemical fires spilled over into the surrounding community, fueled by the strident opposition of Bay Area environmental groups, and prompted a unanimous vote of dissent from the Berkeley City Council. In addition to the usual podium speeches, press conferences, and letter-writing campaigns, a video criticizing the proposed Strawberry Canyon repository is now airing on cable TV and in meeting rooms across town.

“In a fire we're talking about toxins in the air and the watershed, and a lot of it causes cancer or genetic defects," says video participant and hills dweller Fredrica Drotos. 'What they're doing is irresponsible to the whole city."

Irresponsible or not, for months the university refused to budge on the issue. Then, last week, the university suddenly announced that it would study an alternative storage site. Even as hillside residents and their allies began attacking the two-inch-thick environmental impact report that had just been released on the canyon proposal, university planners quietly told City Council members that all plans are on hold.

They say the $9 million, 18.500-square-foot storage building, deemed necessary to replace an overcrowded repository near the UC Botanical Garden could possibly be relocated after all, to a new site on the central campus. According to the plan it unveiled last summer, the university would build its facility in a forested area across Centennial Drive from the Strawberry Canyon pool and the Haas Clubhouse. It would be designed to receive 110 tons of ink, paint, laboratory chemicals, and low-level radioactive waste each year, all generated by the campus itself. University crews would then package and ship the materials to permanent repositories around the country.

When they unveiled their plan, university officials argued that one of the benefits of the proposed site was that it was relatively distant from the more inhabited parts of the campus. The area, however, is far from unpopulated. When residents of the nearby Panoramic Hill neighborhood found out about the university's plans, they were outraged.

While these denizens of posh pine-shrouded homes above the canyon have long suffered the intrusion of noise from concerts and UC sports events at Memorial Stadium, this time, they said, the university was going too far. Their campaign soon expanded as Greenpeace, the SF-based Earth Island Institute, and the City Council joined the opposition. Meanwhile, flatland activists Carolyn Erbele and L A Wood shot their video, "Campus Chemical Waste: Disaster in the Planning".

Has the university blinked? Campus hazardous waste manager Pat Goff, while continuing to argue that a Strawberry Canyon facility would be completely safe, concedes that there might be some advantages to the possible central campus site at Callaghan Hall near Oxford Street and the campus's west gate. "[A wider access road] might provide an advantage for the larger trucks to get in there." he says, "and it is further from the Hayward Fault.' Activists and city officials see many other advantages as well. If an emergency should occur, Berkeley Fire Chief Gary Cates points out, the Callaghan Hall area would be much easier to evacuate than Strawberry Canyon via the curvy, two-lane Centennial Drive. Fire trucks would not have to cross a fault line to access the Callaghan site, nor would firefighters have to worry about flames spreading to dry hillsides. "Callaghan is probably headed in the right direction. Strawberry Canyon is in a slide area, but Callaghan is on bedrock," says Berkeley Mayor Jeffrey Leiter, adding to a list of justifications for the west campus proposal.

waste barrelsEnvironmentalists, meanwhile, like the idea of putting the storage building in every campus pedestrian's view, which, they believe, would make chemical users continuously aware of how much toxic waste they produce and thus, perhaps, scare them into acting more prudently. 'After chemistry classes we'll normally dump [waste] into a bin and some of it we neutralize, but a lot of people don't want to stand in line to do it because it's getting close to lunchtime," says Aaron Gach, a UC Berkeley sophomore and cofounder of the Student Environmental Action Coalition at Berkeley.

"There's a strong incentive to be more careful, to recycle materials so we don't generate as many of them," says City Councilmember Fred Collignon, who also works on campus. "The discipline of knowing toxics are next door is very important."

University officials caution that there are numerous problems with the central campus site. They say storing chemicals at Callaghan would force ROTC to move from its trailer into the Hearst Gym, thereby cramping space for athletic department offices. The storage might also force revisions to the proposed expansion of an adjacent boiler plant. "At any step along the way, it may prove too costly to go on with," warns campus environmental planner Katherine Mortimer. Still, the university promises to conduct a study of the site which will be submitted to the Board of Regents, who will decide the matter in January.

Some canyon site opponents say UC officials are studying the west campus storage building just to detract attention from the canyon site, which they call a done deal. An obligation to evaluate every viable proposal-not public outcry-is the official reason for reconsidering Strawberry Canyon. But people who have previously fought university proposals claim there are other motives involved. "It's just a smokescreen." Gach says.

"The university is the proponent, the evaluator, and the decision maker," local Greenpeace coordinator Bradley Angel points out on the video. - I say the fix is in."

Sudden Impact
L A Wood, East Bay Express, October 7, 1994 

What a question! Is UC Backing Down from Strawberry Canyon Waste Site Plan?" ("Cityside," September 30). Everybody knows that UC never backs down from its development plans, and the Strawberry Canyon waste facility is no different. As pointed out in Ralph Jennings's article, many in Berkeley believe that the university's last-minute investigation of Callaghan Hall is "to detract attention from the canyon site." This late review of alternate sites is also a response to public outcry, but more importantly, to reestablish UC's preference for the Strawberry Canyon location after the public hearing.

At Berkeley's Planning Commission hearing on this issue last week, the director of planning for UC, Michael Dobbins, explained that the preliminary analysis over the next four weeks should prove the Callaghan site acceptable so they can move forward to complete the original EIR ... yak, yak, yak. If you believe this, I have a campanile to sell you. The real question that should be asked is, "Why is the Callaghan Hall site the only central campus location currently under review by UC?"

Whatever happened to the Stanley Hall parking lot site proposal? UC eliminated this truly viable site for fear it would be given serious consideration. In truth, a whole new EIR should be conducted to include all possible central campus sites.

In a few weeks when Callaghan is rejected, the UC planning department will recommend the Strawberry Canyon location again, so as to meet its targeted goals of budget review and funding in the next fiscal year. This project is being forced onto our community, like many other UC developments have been, lacking in integrity and reeking with deception.

Relocation of UC waste facility tentative, residents relieved
Mira Schwirtz, East Bay Journal, October 3, 1994

UC Berkeley officials announced they are reconsidering placing a new toxic waste facility on the central campus location in response to public outcry against building the previously favored Strawberry Canyon site.

The central campus Callaghan Hall site was one of three options considered for replacing an outdated chemical and toxic waste packaging facility in the Berkeley hills. But since July 1993, UC administrators have not seriously considered the central campus site because of its heavy foot traffic. Instead, they favored a proposal for building in Strawberry Canyon across from the university's Botanical Gardens on Centennial Drive.

"(Callaghan Hall) appears to be workable at this point," said Mike Dobbins, director of UC Berkeley's Physical and Environmental Planning office, at a Berke1ey Planning Commission public hearing Sept. 22. Dobbins added that Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien ordered Dobbins' office to do a more in-depth study of the possible campus site.

Dobbins said there are a number of safety considerations involved with the Callaghan Hall site, which could make it more desirable. The site is more geologically sound, less environmentally destructive and far more accessible than the hills location.

University officials will proceed with a health analysis of the campus location and issue the results in a supplemental environmental impact report. Officials may also extend the public response period beyond the 60 days required by law.

Nearly 40 hills residents came to the meeting prepared to argue their case, with a video-taped documentation protesting the hill site in hand. "We are greatly relieved that UC is beginning to change its mind," said L A Wood, co-producer of the video titled "Campus Chemical Waste: Disaster in the Planning". "It has taken the energy and effort of neighbors to take this issue up with the (state) department of transportation, otherwise these questions never would have been raised to this level."

Wood was referring to neighborhood groups' complaints that the transportation of unpackaged chemical and toxic waste on Centennial Drive, which is used by the public, is illegal. The university contends it is legal because they own the road. The university is negotiating privately with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control over the legalities of the issue.

In speeches before the commission, residents criticized the university for not working to minimize its production of toxic waste, most of which is a by-product of campus research. The university's 2,500 labs produce 110 tons of chemical waste and approximately 4,000 cubic feet of low-level radioactive waste per year.

Dobbins said the university is working to reduce its waste and that the new, larger facility will enable the campus to prepare toxic materials for re-use. He emphasized, however, that with 7,000 students enrolled in chemistry courses each year, waste will continue to be produced. The Berkeley City Council has taken a hard stance against the facility, although there is little local government can do.

September 20, 1994 COUNCIL SUMMARY Page 11
SECTION D(b) (Continued)

11. Viewing Of Videotape Concerning Strawberry Canyon From: Coundilmember Dona Spring Recommendation: That Council set aside fifteen (15) minutes on the City Council, September 27, 1994 Agenda meeting to view the videotape on the proposed Strawberry Canyon Toxic Facility, produced by Carolyn Erbele of the Environmental Advisory Commission in preparation for the public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to be held September 29, 1994 beginning at 7 p.m. at the International House Auditorium. Expense: None

Contact: Dona Spring, Councilmember District 4, 644-6266 Action: Removed from Consent Calendar by Councilmember Collignon for discussion. Left it up to the Planning Commission to present the tape as a public record, and up to the City Clerk and Mayor whether to schedule additional time on September 27, 1994.

SEPTEMBER 27, 1994 COUNCIL AGENDA
SECTION I. (Continued)
8:15 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

2. VIDEO TAPE ON PROPOSED STRAWBERRY CANYON TOXIC FACILITY
(produced by Carolyn Erbele of the Environmental Advisory Commission in preparation for the public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Report to be held September 29, 1994)

Hearing consensus' supports on-campus waste storage site
Brian Caulfield, Berkeley Voice, May 11, 1995

Berkeley residents, city officials, students, and environmentalists turned out to support putting UC Berkeley's new radioactive and chemical waste storage facility on campus rather than at a Strawberry Canyon at a hearing Monday night.

Those who spoke said the Strawberry Canyon site in the hills was too close to houses and in an area with a history of fires, earthquakes and mud slides.

The purpose of the hearing was to gather public input on a supplemental draft environmental impact report looking at putting U.C.'s hazardous waste facility on campus at Callaghan Hall rather than in the hills.

Callaghan Hall currently houses UC's Navy and Air Force officer training program. It is on the cross­ campus road with the Heilman tennis courts to the west, Evans baseball field to the south and UC's central heating plant on the east.

More than 35 people attended the public hearing at the Alumni House at the U.C. campus. "Our study does conclude that Callaghan is the environmentally superior site," said Michael Dobbins, director of physical and environmental planning at UC at the hearing. He also said the campus will also be setting a goal to reduce toxic waste.

"I think we can look at this as a watershed if the University picks Callaghan Hall for UC taking its neighbors seriously," said John Denton, president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations. "I hope it sets a standard for future relations."

Berkeley Councilmember Polly Armstrong said the 1991 East Bay hills fire makes it clear that the facility should not be in the hills. "Having seen how even the best designed buildings can be vaporized in a wildfire, it seems very sensible to locate hazardous waste in an area where fire protection is right at hand and wildfire risk is limited," she said. Armstrong also said UC needs to take more steps to reduce the amount of toxic waste it produces, as did most of the speakers at the hearing.

Councilmember Diane WoolleyBauer also spoke out in support of the Callaghan site as well as a representative for Berkeley Mayor representative for Mayor Shirley Dean. In addition a letter from Assemblyman Tom Bates also sent a letter endorsing the Callaghan site was read at the meeting.

Campus planners must respond to the public's comments when they make a recommendation for the site in their final environmental impact report. The public will have 90 days to comment on the plan, at the public hearing and in writing.

A campus planner in charge of the project said public input had caused her to prefer the on campus site. "I prefer the Callaghan site because it seems most responsive to the concerns of the public," said Katherine Mortimer, a senior planner at the university in charge of the project.

Campus officials will also have a chance to comment on the plan before the UC Berkeley chancellor makes a final proposal to the UC Regents on the facility's site for consideration this September.

This process has raised concern among some who oppose the Strawberry Canyon site. "Before it leaves Berkeley campus the public should have the right to comment on it," said Berkeley resident L A Wood.

"I am afraid the university, despite the huge outcry from he last hearing, is just going to do what they want to do, which is put the facility where they want to," said Carolyn Erbele, a Berkeley resident who with Wood produced a video (Campus Chemical Waste: Disaster in the planning”) opposing the Strawberry Canyon site. "I would be very surprised if they did not recommend Strawberry Canyon."

A draft environmental impact report made public last summer recommended a site one-quarter of a mile from the current facility as the best spot for a new facility. But Dobbins and Mortimer's endorsement of the Callaghan site seems to indicate a change in campus policy.

University of California Regent regarding the UC Waste Facility
L A Wood, September 6, 1995

It has been over two years since a formal community discussion began regarding the proposed environmental health and safety facility at the University of California, Berkeley.

There has been almost total agreement that a new facility is needed. However, the CEQA review process revealed several major concerns of the City of Berkeley. First and foremost, was the selection of Strawberry Canyon in the initial ElR as the preferred site. The issues of fire and earthquake were but a part of the list of community objections.

Berkeley's City Council voted unanimously on two separate occasions to voice their strong objections to the facility being placed in Strawberry Canyon. These actions and the growing concerns of the community necessitated a supplemental EIR which focused on the central campus location, Callaghan Hall.

The Callaghan Hall EIR proved this site to have both superior environmental and transportation components. Additionally, the city thought that the hazardous storage site should be close to the waste generators (the 2500 labs on the central campus) to reinforce the idea of the minimization of low level radioactive and chemical use.

The video "Campus Chemical Waste: Disaster in the Planning" is a community perspective on the proposed 9 million dollar project for the new hazardous waste storage facility. The images and voices are those of Berkeley. The idea of a central campus location is simple and rational.

Before you vote on this matter, please take thirteen minutes to view this video. Then you will see why both the City of Berkeley and UCB's own planning staff now recommend that this hazardous waste storage facility not be built in Strawberry Canyon!


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