By Dave Maass / San Diego CityBeat / October 20, 2009
For nearly 30 years after the end of World War II, the U.S. Navy engaged in a practice one might call “truck fondue.”
At Mole Pier, a section of the Navy’s Broadway Complex, Naval personnel hosed down trucks and heavy machinery with diesel fuel, then dunked them in Paleta Creek, a tributary of San Diego Bay. The Navy sprayed, burned or buried an estimated 500,000 gallons of fuel during that period.
It was all done in the name of “decontamination”—ironic, because this is one of dozens of practices cited as primary causes of sediment contamination in the bay, according to a federal lawsuit filed Oct. 14 by the city of San Diego. The city is asking for damages from the Navy, the San Diego Unified Port District, power companies and shipbuilders—many defunct—that operated in the shipyards along the 60-acre area south of Coronado Bridge during the last 100 years.
General Dynamics NASCCO is listed at the top of the list of defendants for “intentionally or accidentally” dumping abrasive blast waste—containing aluminum, calcium oxides, iron, titanium, silicon, sand, steel and zinc used to remove paint—to the tune of 198 tons per month between 1987 and 1991. That’s a grand total of 11,880 tons of slag.
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