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).