Draft Plan to Address Contamination in San Pablo Bay is Released Richmond Meeting to Inform Public on Dec. 17

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Draft Plan to Address Contamination in San Pablo Bay is Released Richmond Meeting to Inform Public on Dec. 17Public comment period is open through Jan. 9, 2009

State and Federal agencies working on the restoration of natural resources injured by wastewater discharges in Castro Cove, and the resulting sediment contamination, today released a Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan, opening a 45-day public comment period.

An open house to provide information to the public is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 17 in the Point Richmond Community Center, 139 Washington Avenue in Richmond, CA. Public comments may be submitted at the meeting and on through Jan. 9, 2009.

The restoration plan is designed to restore equivalent habitats to those injured by the long-term wastewater discharge and resulting sediment contamination from the Chevron refinery into Castro Cove, a small inlet on San Pablo Bay. The discharge was relocated in 1987 and the company is now cleaning up the most contaminated areas in the isolated bay, an effort that the agencies estimate will cost the firm more than $20 million when completed.

San Pablo Bay National Wildlife RefugeUnder federal and state law, the company also is liable for the amount needed to fund restoration of resources which are equivalent to those injured due to the discharges. The agencies determined that the contamination injured intertidal and subtidal mudflats, salt marshes and the wildlife which relies on those habitats. Their analysis concluded that the restoration of 203 acres of salt marsh, mudflat and sub-tidal habitat is needed to compensate for the injuries to these natural resources.

The natural resource agencies have negotiated a tentative agreement in which the company will pay $2.65 million, beyond the cost for cleanup of Castro Cove, to fund the restoration of 203 acres of equivalent habitats. The draft Restoration Plan proposes to use funds from the tentative settlement to restore 173 acres of the Cullinan Ranch wetland in the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge and 30 acres of tidal wetlands in the East Bay Regional Park District’s planned Breuner Marsh Park in north Richmond, just south of the Point Pinole Regional Shoreline.

The natural resource agencies involved in the settlement are the U.S. Department of Commerce (represented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), U.S. Department of the Interior (represented by the Fish and Wildlife Service), and the California Department of Fish and Game?s Office of Spill Prevention and Response. As a designated natural resource Trustee, each agency is authorized to act on behalf of the public under state and/or federal law to assess and recover natural resource damages which they may use only to plan and implement actions to restore, replace, or acquire the equivalent of the natural resources injured by the contamination.

Draft Plan to Address Contamination in San Pablo Bay is Released Richmond Meeting to Inform Public on Dec. 17For a copy of the Draft Restoration Plan go to: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/ospr/spill/nrda/nrda_castro.html or http://www.darrp.noaa.gov/southwest/castro/index.html. A copy also is available at the Richmond Library, Main Branch, 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond, Calif., 94804.

The public comment period is open through Jan. 9, 2009. The trustees will hold an open house at the Point Richmond Community Center at 139 Washington Avenue in Richmond on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008, from 4 to 7 p.m. The trustees will provide information about the Draft Restoration Plan and on how to provide input into the process.

Written comments may be sent until Jan. 9, 2009 to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Attn: Carolyn Marn, 2800 Cottage Way, Rm. W-2605, Sacramento, CA, 95825; or by facsimile to Carolyn Marn at 916-414-6713; or by e-mail to castrocove [at] noaa [dot] gov.