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U.S. EPA TO RELEASE STORMWATER FROM CASMALIA TO CREEK

Release Date: 11/13/1995
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588

 (San Francisco) -- The U.S. EPA (U.S. EPA) today announced that it will begin to discharge stormwater from three stormwater ponds at the Casmalia Resources waste site to Casmalia Creek on Wednesday, November 15, to prevent possible overtopping and/or breaching of impoundments containing the water.  
 
     "Our extensive tests have shown that the water is safe to discharge," said Laura Yoshii, U.S. EPA's deputy director of the Office of Waste Programs. "A sudden, uncontrolled release would damage the creek habitat and be a potential threat to the public. Since the rainy season is already upon us, we must move ahead to prevent the possibility of a catastrophic release of the water."

     U.S. EPA believes it is necessary to release the water because the environmental and safety impacts of an uncontrolled  surge of water into Casmalia Creek would be far greater than a controlled release of the water, a view shared by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, and the California Division of Safety of Dams.

     The stormwater -- which contains low levels of some contaminants and is safe to discharge to the creek -- will be released at a slow, controlled rate. The release will be monitored by the U.S. EPA in coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

     The decision to release the water was made after extensive public involvement by the U.S. EPA, including discussions with the community, the dissemination of information on the discharge, and a public meeting held by U.S. EPA.  

     The impoundments were built while Casmalia was still in operation. They were not meant to hold vast quantities of water and do not meet the safety and construction codes for dams required by the Division of Safety of Dams. The infrastructure of the impoundments has been eroded by wind and water and may fail during heavy winter rains.  

     The ponds contain stormwater runoff that has accumulated on the site since 1989. U.S. EPA sampled the ponds in March and October of this year and found that some contaminants, notably certain heavy metals and solvents, were detected in trace amounts.

     The levels of many of the pollutants observed in the Casmalia ponds are comparable to those typically observed in stormwater runoff from industrial and other urban areas that commonly flows to rivers, streams, and oceans. It's not uncommon for some stormwater to contain these contaminants, and others, at levels in excess of the levels found in Casmalia pond water, depending on the surface it flows over and local land uses.

     Casmalia Resources is an inactive hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility which accepted large volumes of commercial and industrial wastes from 1973 to 1989. During its years of operation, millions of gallons of liquid hazardous waste and millions of cubic yards of solid hazardous waste were placed in landfills and surface impoundments at the facility.

     Since 1992, the U.S. EPA has undertaken stabilization actions to control actual or potential releases of hazardous substances from the facility.


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