South Prescott Community CAG

South Prescott Community Forum

Lead Cleanup Project Update

Updates as of 3/26/2013

Began constructing of a menu of instructions for Do-It-Yourself Residential Lead Soil Treatment.

Updates as of 2/28/12


EPA has just mailed out the latest update regarding the Fishbone Project (AKA West Oakland Lead Cleanup). The following link will lead you to a page where you can access both the fact sheet (in English and Spanish), as well as a Do-It-Yourself informational pamphlet that we have put together for people that were outside of the project area but may also have high lead content in their soils. The pamphlet is called, “Lead in Urban Soils,” and you will see it at the top of the downloadable documents. The fact sheets are immediately following.


You can also access them in the Document Archive on this website, or on FaceBook at the EPA facebook page


Leer el Boletín de noticias del PROYECTO ESPINA DE PESCADO de Enero 2012 para encontrar la información más reciente sobre:

  • ¿Qué es el Proyecto Espina de Pescado?
  • Progreso de los trabajos
  • ¿Cómo lucen los trabajos?
  • Lo que los residentes opinan
  • Recolección de Residuos Peligrosos Domésticos del 9 al 31 de enero
  • Franjas de servidumbre
  • Colaboración para el uso de Pinturas Libres de Plomo en Casas
  • Equipos "Hágalo Usted Mismo"
  • Pasantía disponible
  • ¡Y mucho mas!

Read the January 2012 Fishbone Project Newsletter to find out about:

  • What is the Fishbone Project?
  • Project progress
  • What does the work look like?
  • What the residents are saying
  • Household hazardous waste collection from January 9 - 31
  • What's happening with the easement strip between the street and the sidewalk?
  • Assistance to get lead-free paint on your home
  • Do-it-yourself kits
  • Internship available
  • And much more!

For more of the Latest West Oakland Lead Soil Remediation Project Updates go to the Contractor website and to the EPA On-scene Coordinator website.

 As in many urban areas of the nation, high levels of lead have been detected in the soil in the South Prescott neighborhood of Oakland. The South Prescott area is situated in West Oakland, approximately one mile west of downtown Oakland and immediately south of the West Oakland Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station. The high levels of lead detected in our soil pose a health risk to our residents, particularly the children.

The Solution

In collaboration with US EPA Region IX Emergency Response, our neighborhood is going to implement Operation Paydirt’s protocol for mineral neutralization of lead found above tolerable thresholds in our residential neighborhood. After initial implementation on demonstration sites, ultimately the treatment plan will be implemented neighborhood-wide, and will provide employment for local youth, and business opportunities for some local small businesses. We are hopeful that a successful project in our neighborhood will become a model for treatment of soil in other cities, making cities across the United States safe for children! The treatment method we are using was developed to address the problem of lead contaminated soil with a sustainable and economically viable method to neutralize hazardous lead contaminated soil by treatment of the soil in place, as an alternative to traditional, more costly mitigation measures that involve digging up the contaminated dirt and hauling it of to a landfill. Traditionally, lead contaminated soil is dug up and hauled off to a disposal site, thereby transferring the problem from one community to another. The traditional "dig-and-haul" method of cleaning up lead-contaminated soil is not sustainable because there is not enough landfill capacity in the nation to handle all the soil that exceeds safe levels for lead.

We are a forward looking, environmentally conscious community that wants no part of giving our problem to someone else. The treatment method we are using expands upon a protocol currently used to successfully remediate highly polluted industrial and military sites. The methodology is being called Treat-Lock-Cover (TLC). Lead-contaminated soil will be treated with calcium phosphate (ground up fish bones), neutralized through the formation of complex minerals (pyromorphites) and then covered with three to six inches of clean sediments. Neutralized by calcium phosphate into stable mineral formations, lead is prevented from being absorbed into the bloodstream of children (and adults.) The South Prescott Community Action Group (CAG) of Oakland, California and the community it represents are proud to be a part of this pioneering effort that stands to benefit the entire nation.

Our History

The South Prescott neighborhood, was initially developed during the late 1800’s as a mix of residential and commercial properties built largely by railroad workers. Many of the early homes, in which exterior lead-based paint was potentially used, are still present. Since the late 1800’s, the project area has been occupied by or bordered industrial sites, where contamination is known to be present or has been remediated. In addition, the project area has been historically bordered by roadways and the former Cypress Freeway viaduct. Each of these historic practices and/or operations may have contributed to lead in surface soils within the West Oakland project area and are discussed in further detail below.

Potential Sources of Lead Contamination

As a result of mixed historical land use in the West Oakland area over long periods of time, a number of contributing sources for lead in soil are possible. A number of sites in the project area are known to be or to have been contaminated with lead. One or more of the known contaminated sites could be the source or a contributing source to lead contamination detected in the South Prescott neighborhood. Other potential sources or contributing sources of lead include point source emitters, historic vehicle exhaust, imported fill and lead-based paint on structures.

South Prescott Park Property

Remediation of lead in soil has been performed at a number of properties adjacent to our residential neighborhood.  The majority of adjacent property located immediately south of Third Street in what is now the South Prescott Park and Interstate 880 Freeway footprint was previously remediated. A historical document search from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) Envirostor website revealed that five individual properties, south of Third Street, were remediated due to known contamination, including lead contamination. Approximately 258,000 square feet of total soil surface associated with these properties was capped and deed restrictions were placed on the properties to protect public health

Previous Lead Removal

The following lead concentrations were documented on the properties south of Third Street (currently South Prescott Park) prior to remediation:

  • Former Bobo’s Wrecking Yard/Best Fertilizer - Maximum reported lead concentration in soil: 5,800 parts per million (ppm)
  • Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) rail yard - Maximum reported lead concentration in soil: 12,000 ppm
  • Smith’s Wrecking Yard - Maximum reported lead concentration in soil: 740 ppm
  • Railroad Property at 1509/1513 3rd Street - Average reported lead concentration in soil: 4,110 ppm
  • Prescott Park Soundwall Corridor - Maximum reported lead concentration in soil: 8,740 ppm

Prior to remediation, lead in soils at these sites may have been dispersed throughout all or part of the West Oakland project area.

AMCO/DC Metals Superfund Site

In 2007, USEPA conducted an investigation of the potential dispersion of lead contamination in residential surface soils from historic operations at the AMCO chemical NPL site located at 1414 Third St. in Oakland, California. The NPL site was formerly a chemical distribution facility operated by AMCO Chemical Corporation between the 1960's and 1989. The AMCO facility included a railroad spur, above ground tanks and drums, and underground storage tanks used to transfer and store raw materials. From 1989 to November 1998, the site was operated as a scrap metals yard by DC Metals, Inc. (DC Metals). In November 1998, all metal scrap and equipment was removed from the site by the operator and all site operations ceased. The site was subsequently leased to Cable Moore, Inc. and was being used for cable storage until the site was vacated in 2010. The 2007 USEPA-funded remedial investigation included residential properties located immediately adjacent to the NPL site along the north side of Third St. and the east side of Center St. Results from this investigation provided evidence of lead in residential surface soils at concentrations up to 2,700 ppm, which exceed the USEPA Regional Screening Level of 400 ppm. These elevated lead concentrations prompted USEPA to excavate soil at nine residential properties located along Third and Center Streets in 2007.

Additional Historic Remedial Investigations/Actions

In May 1997, DTSC identified leaking drums and containers, stained soils, and chemical odors at 528 Lewis Street during a drive-by assessment. The 528 Lewis Street property was identified as a 0.19-acre vacant lot which was formerly used as a junkyard for storing vehicles, used tires, and gas cylinders. Based on preliminary assessment results and the USEPA Hazard Ranking System (HRS), 528 Lewis Street was identified as a potential hazardous site and entered into the DTSC Calsites database and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System (CERCLIS) on June 9, 1997. On November 9, 2001 DTSC conducted soil sampling at the Lewis St. property. Analytical results from this sampling event revealed a maximum concentration of 1,080 ppm for lead in soils. The site was excavated from 1 to 4 feet below the ground surface in March 2004 to remove lead and other metals contamination. After excavation, confirmatory samples were collected and results were below the cleanup level of 260 ppm. The U. S. Postal Service Oakland Main distribution facility located at the southwest corner of 7th Street and Peralta Street was built in 1969, but was a residential area prior to that development. A preliminary endangerment assessment performed at the U.S. Postal Service Main distribution facility documented the maximum lead concentration in soil at the site was 540 ppm; however, samples were not collected from above 2 feet below the ground surface.

Other Point Source Emitters

A point source emitter is a fixed site, like a smoke stack, from where a contaminant comes. It is commonly observed that lead concentrations in soil are higher in urban areas and in heavily industrialized areas. Though it may be difficult to pinpoint a single point source for lead in urban and/or industrial areas, the presence of large military and industrial properties up-wind from our neighborhood could be a contributing source for lead in soil resulting from aerial deposition of lead in particulates. Additionally, the adjacent industrial sites (referenced above) which required remedial actions can be considered significant point-source emitters.

Lead from Vehicle Exhaust

Before tetraethyl lead was banned for use as a performance additive to gasoline, exhaust from gasoline fueled vehicles caused aerial deposition of lead in particulates near roadways and freeways. The former Cypress Freeway viaduct was located along the current alignment of Mandela Parkway north of 7th Street with a curve to the east leading to an alignment parallel to 5th Street. Due to the distance of the former Cypress Freeway viaduct from the West Oakland project area, historic leaded gasoline emissions are likely to be a significant contributing source for lead accumulation in residential soils within the project area.

Imported Fill

Prior to initial development of the South Prescott neighborhood in the late 1800’s, the tidal margin of San Francisco Bay extended to just south of 3rd Street. The margin boundary was irregular and extended further north in some areas. Following development of the residential neighborhood, the bay margin was filled before construction of the rail yard and other industrial sites roughly south and west of the current Interstate 880 Freeway. The source of imported fill is not known, and it may have contained lead contamination. While it is possible that many of the properties in the South Prescott neighborhood were not filled, it is likely that irregular areas of fill exist at some properties where tidal channels were present before development.

Lead-Based Paint

Before lead was banned for use in most paints by the United States Government's Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in September, 1977, exterior paint commonly used on homes contained lead. Two mechanisms for lead-based paint contributing to soil lead have been identified. Because paint is designed to naturally chalk, weathering of exterior lead-based paint may cause it to crumble or peel, and the resulting paint chips and particles then contaminate the surrounding soil. Abatement of the paint using scraping or sandblasting techniques (without collection devices) may also result in lead contamination of the soil. Age of residence is sometimes used as an indicator for the presence of lead-based paint. The use of lead in exterior house paint has markedly declined since the 1940s. However, it was not banned from use in residential paints until the 1970s. Thus, older homes and residential developments such as those present in our neighborhood, are more likely to have lead-based paint.

Map of South Prescott Neighborhood

For a detailed map showing the property lines and addresses, click AMCO sitehere.

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