Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Climate Change Will Unlease Buried Toxics

The saga continues. A few weeks ago, I wrote a story about plans to contain a massive heap of toxic slag on the East Bay waterfront. One of the details of the project was that it would be designed to take sea-level rise into account, so that future flooding and tidal infusions would not nullify the remediation project being undertaken in the next few years. That story got me (and my editor) thinking: How many toxic sites like this around the bay are similarly at risk of sea-level rise? I used a database called EnvirStor produced by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to survey coastal toxic sites, and came up with the answer: a lot, sadly. More than 40, at least, including sites that have already been contained or capped, with no consideration given to the future effects of sea-level rise, as well as some sites still awaiting cleanup. The resulting story caught the attention of KQED and landed me a brief appearance on ClimateWatch the following morning (transcript here, related blog here).

A Pair of Chronicle Stories: Composting in the Tenderloin and Hunting Groups Restore Marshland

In the past few weeks I've written a pair of stories for the San Francisco Chronicle. The first one, which ran on July 8, outlined the efforts of a nonprofit called Community Housing Partnership to train residents of Tenderloin SROs in zero-waste practices and other environmental concepts. The second, which ran on July 23, took a look at the trend of state conservation funding going toward private hunting groups like Ducks Unlimited and the California Waterfowl Association. In particular, I looked at salt-pond restoration project happening at Hayward's Eden Landing Ecological Preserve and the protection of more than 1,000 acres of wetlands in Suisun Marsh. Both projects are funded through the state but managed by private hunting groups. It begins ... "On one side of a levee at Hayward's Eden Landing Ecological Reserve is healthy pickleweed marsh. On the other is a moonscape marred by stagnant pools of crimson water and desiccated patches of pure white salt. ..."