Target TCP Update Agendized for January 16 City-County Two-by-Two

imageYolo County

Representatives from the City and the County will meet on January 16, to discuss among other issues, the issue of TCP that was found in test sites around the Target Superfund site. To date, the EPA has dismissed community based calls for further testing before construction begins at their site.

The City-County will have their 2-by-2 meeting on Friday January 16, 2009 at 9 AM in the conference room at the Davis County Office which is located a block from City Hall at 600 A Street. The item on Target and the issue of the TCP has been agendized for discussion. The 2-by-2 consists of two members from the Board of Supervisors and two members from the City Council. That will be the two Davis Supervisors, which means that this will be newly installed Supervisor Jim Provenza’s first 2-by-2. Mayor Ruth Asmundson and Councilmember Don Saylor represent the city.

For some reason the agenda for these meetings is not readily available from the city. This is a public meeting and the public under the Brown Act ought to be informed about it. Thus there is no posted information on either the City’s webpage or the County’s webpage. It would be interesting to see where the meetings are posted and whether the city and county are in compliance with the Brown Act regarding posting and announcing such meetings. Regardless, even if this is within the letter of the law, it certainly seems to break the spirit of the law.

Here’s a letter from Congressman Mike Thompson who seems unconcerned about the problem–further illustrating why it was a good thing that he was not selected as Secretary of the Interior.

Thank you for contacting me regarding elevated levels of trichloropropane (TCP) found at the 2nd Street construction site of the Target in Davis. I appreciate you sharing these concerns with me.

Rest assured that I am aware of the discovery of TCP at the construction site and agree that public safety – for residents, construction workers, future employees and shoppers – is of the utmost concern. I have been in contact with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the City of Davis about the concerns that have been expressed to me and I will continue to follow the issue. The EPA has explained that no contamination has been found at the building location and that the high concentrations of TCP are at the neighboring disposal basin and should be addressed soon as part of the final cleanup of the Superfund site.

Presently, remediation in the form of gravel/vapor barriers and air sampling is being conducted regardless of construction activity. Additionally, the EPA has an enforceable agreement with Target should more aggressive containment measures prove necessary. A strong EPA agreement with a responsible partner willing to conduct monitoring and remedial action as necessary is crucial to mitigate the risks from contaminants over the long term. For its part, the City of Davis has significant experience in managing matters of soil and groundwater contamination, most notably at the Fifth and G Streets site that now houses the US Department of Agriculture.

Again, thank you for your concern and vigilance on this issue. Please continue to contact me on all issues of importance to you and our district.


Member of Congress

The problem that residents of Davis face at the moment is that the City Council has very limited jurisdiction over such matters. This goes back to the issue of Agraquest and possible health threats the community might face from environmental contamination at their Kennedy Place site. The city has limited ability to act on such things.

The county is far better situated on both issues to deal with it. However, the County Health Department summarily without investigation dismissed concerns about Agraquest, and now it appears they have done little with regards to the potential threat that residents adjacent to the Superfund site may face from exposure to TCP.

On Monday, the Sacramento Bee reported:

“The chemical has previously been found at the neighboring Frontier Fertilizer Superfund site along Second Street, near Interstate 80 and Mace Boulevard.

But nearby residents are now concerned it may be migrating northeast under the Target site, toward their homes.”

Bonnie Arthur, the EPA Superfund project manager said the following:

“The chemical is known to cause cancer, she said. But she said it does not threaten the city’s drinking water supply, which is drawn from deeper wells. “Nobody’s drinking this water,” she said.”

However, members of the Frontier Fertilizer Superfund Oversight Group are not so sure that it is not a threat to drinking water if it continues to move and begins to leach into wells that lie at a deeper level.

The question is where is the county on all of this? They have a health department and they have the power to investigate these matters independent of the EPA. If this represents an actual health threat, it would seem that the county should step in.

But in both this and the Agraquest issue, the county has been silent.

It remains to be seen if a more aggressive Supervisor like Jim Provenza might be able to change some of this. January 16, 2009 will be a very important meeting on this matter, and residents concerned about this issue should try to attend, even though the meeting is happening during the work day when working people will have difficulty attending.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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23 thoughts on “Target TCP Update Agendized for January 16 City-County Two-by-Two”

  1. Mike Hart

    While I admire your enthusiasm, and determination on this issue; I still don’t see the point. I suppose being concerned about a plume 180 feet underground neither originating nor ending at the site, nor having anything to do with it could be considered relevant (in Davis).In Davis it is perfectly normal to have people wave …US out of Iraq… signs at a campus protest over service worker wages… In the spirit of this vital issue I will organize a ban on potatoes at Nugget Market.

  2. Mitch Mifkin

    I, too, will join in the potato ban, since we can not guarantee the safety of food grown underground, especially in light of the photos take of a spigot at Agraquest and a single groundwater sample at the Target site.

  3. Pam Nieberg

    The concern about something …180 feet underground… is that 1. The recent detect was 44 feet under ground; and 2. TCP is a carcinogen and toxin and a volatile chemical. The groundwater runs toward the homes to the north and north east of the site. EPA’s toxicologist stated that TCP at the level found can pose a cancer risk (as a volatilizing vapor) to residents in homes lying over a plume of the chemical. If the chemical has reached the homes, it is important to know so that appropriate actions can be taken asap. Thank you for staying on top of this, David. I and a number of other people plan to attend the meeting on the 16th. Also, thanks to supervisor Jim Provenza for following up on this as well.

  4. Cautious Target Proponent

    Keep after this DPD and Pam. Those houses never should have been built until AFTER the cleanup occurred. Let’s not add to the problem by moving too fast to build Target, and I am a Target proponent by the way!

  5. Pam Nieberg

    Thanks, Cautious Target Proponent. The FFSOG tried to convince the city not to permit those homes until EPA had finished its investigation, but EPA was 100% sure at the time that there was no danger to that area because they were 100% sure that their pump and treat system was containing the plume. It wasn’t, and our technical advisor, using his own independent analysis, had predicted that it was not. City believed EPA. Now we have all those homes overlying a toxic plume. This is one reason the FFSOG is keeping at this. Now EPA is sure the TCP poses no risk to the homes. We want the samplings that will prove that.

  6. David M. Greenwald

    Pam:Thanks for your comments. One of the reasons I have kept at this is information that leads me to question the safety of the people living there. People have conflated this with the Target issue, but to me that’s almost incidental at this point and the residents are the far bigger concern.

  7. Anonymous

    This is not new news. Anyone who has picked up a newspaper in the past decade should know that the area by Mace Ranch is a Superfund site. To use this now as an anti-Target issue is ridiculous. This fight has been going on for years. I applaud Pam and her group for challenging the EPA’s findings, but maybe the EPA is right.

  8. David M. Greenwald

    Anonymous:With all due respect to someone who doesn’t wish to be identified with your opinion, you are wrong.This is new news in the sense that was previously believed about the plume was inaccurate AND because the TCP was found a much higher level than previously found.Second, as I just stated, this is really not about Target, Target will go forward, the more serious issue is with the residents.Third, the EPA may be correct, we just want to know for sure before a foundation is laid and the task gets more difficult. That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

  9. Anonymous

    I trust the EPA’s judgment that this is not going to be a threat to people’s health. Just because the citizens are going to continue to make a stink about it doesn’t mean it’s an actual issue.

  10. Rich Rifkin

    …The groundwater runs toward the homes to the north and north east of the site…….Those houses never should have been built until AFTER the cleanup occurred….Does anyone know if the homeowners in the Arroyo Avenue neighborhood were fully informed of the Superfund site issues prior to buying those houses? If they were, I wonder if those houses originally sold at a discount, due to their proximity to the buried toxins? I also wonder if (relative to other houses in east Mace Ranch) the discount will increase, based on recent findings at the superfund site?My (admittedly uninformed) guess is: 1) the homeowners were informed, and that later buyers are likewise informed by law; 2) the Arroyo houses did not sell for a toxic discount*, because the toxic threat to them was very remote and remains remote; and 3) after the Target shopping center is built, the toxic threat to the Arroyo houses will remain remote and therefore will not affect their sale prices.* Discount — I suspect houses along Arroyo, ceteris paribus, were originally priced lower for two unrelated reasons: 1) they are close to I-80 and the railroad tracks and therefore the ambient noise and air pollution makes that a less desirable location to live; and 2) before the rezoning which permitted Target to build on Second Street, those parcels were zoned Industrial, which is not the kind of use homeowners prefer to live next to. I realize that the Arroyo residents were uniformally opposed to the Target project during the Measure K campaign (mostly I think because of concerns about traffic on Mace and noise from delivery trucks). However, I think Target as a neighbor is mostly a benefit to them, as it will help block some of the I-80 and train noise** and compared with an industrial plant, a shopping center is a less obtrusive neighbor.** I never thought of this before, but requiring Target to build a soundwall north of the tracks might have been a fair mitigation and a benefit to the nearby homes.

  11. Pam

    Anonymous 11:57You trust EPA’s judgement that this is not going to be a threat to the neighbors. I wonder how trusting you would be if you lived there. Did you read the post re EPA’s judgement in letting homes be built over a toxic plume of groundwater? They were dead wrong then and they could be just as wrong now. Gases are coming off this plume from other contaminants in part of the neighborhood, though at levels the risk assessment said were too low to be a risk.However, the TCP in the shallow aquifer is NOT at a low level. It is high enough to pose a risk if it were under homes and gassing up. This is NOT about Target. Yes, it would be great if the pouring of the slab could be delayed to permit the appropriate testing, but even if it is not, EPA needs to do testing to the north and northeast of this recent detect to ensure it is NOT moving toward the homes. This is what we asked them to do back in 1996 when we asked that the housing to the north be delayed until the studies were done to show the pump and treat system was containing the plume. They were sure there was no problem then, just as they are sure now. There was a problem then, and now a neighborhood lies above the plume. Plus, this recent detect is outside of the current treatment boundaries, so if it is moving, it is not being contained.To another poster re the previous zoning: it was light industrial/office park. The people who bought homes there were aware of that, and knew that an office park is a much better neighbor than a mall. I wonder what you would feel about how nice it is that it will block freeway sounds if you lived there and had to contend with the noise, light, traffic, crime, and other …amenities… of a mall in your back yard.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    One point that made to me, the county will post the two-by-two agenda tomorrow. The general complaint has been with the city rather than the county in prominently displaying future two-by-two meetings, agendas, and notifications.

  13. Anonymous

    2×2 meetings are not subject to the Brown Act. That’s why they are 2×2 rather than 3×3. Another person would make it a majority and be subject to the act. This is the same as a sub-committee meeting.

  14. Pam

    Anonymous:We have received over $200,000 in grants from EPA’s Technical Assistance Program to do the oversight work. With the bulk of the money, in 1995, we hired a scientist who is an expert in this area of contaminants in the groundwater and their clean-up. He has an impressive resume, and was hired after we interviewed 8 applicants. It is his extensive knowledge and expertise that allowed us to challenge EPA in 1996. He was right; EPA was wrong. In this case, he is asking that EPA do the appropriate tests to ensure that the detected TCP is not moving toward the homes to the north, because the concentration of the chemical is high enough to make it a threat to people living above it. It is due to his knowledge and his input on this that we do challenge EPA once again.

  15. Kudos to the Community

    Mike Hart, Do you happen to live near the Superfund site? If you did you would perhaps understand the concern that people have.If potatoes at Nugget Market were contaminated then I would respect you for organizing a ban on potatoes until an investigation took place and they changed the vendor or got to the source of the problem.Do you get the point? You are criticizing people for being concerned for the welfare of their families, neighbors, friends, our city.I am thankful to the Vanguard for covering this story and to the residents for demanding some accountability and safety for their neighborhood.

  16. Anonymous

    Target ought to pay for pumping out the toxic waste before they build over it. If one person dies from exposure to the toxics, then it is not worth building a store there.

  17. Anonymous

    It is interesting that during the election on Measure K every week I got a letter about how Target was a gentle green giant that would not harm the local community, local businesses or the environment. I heard about the rain forest they were going to construct around the huge shopping center as though that would mitigate the 10,000 to 20,000 cars per day that are going to pour in there, idling and driving at slow speeds which create the most air pollution. Now it seems that our ‘Green

  18. Anonymous

    Maybe you should move to Esparto or something. That is a city that will definitely never build a new store. Why people think a town with a gigantic university in it shouldn’t ever grow, I have no idea.

  19. Anonymous

    Rich’s comment re: were local buyers (Mace Ranch Unit 11) informed… yes… there were specific notices that had to be disclosed to potential original buyers, and deed restrictions were supposed to be in place to make sure that subsequent buyers would be as well… the notices required are public records… all original buyers in Mace Ranch, within 2000 feet of the Frontier site were notified of the existence of the superfund site… re: other assertions that deep water bearing strata are in danger… do you folks know what an aquitard is? There are several between the contaminated strata and even the shallow ag well aquifers… more still betore one gets to the strata that the city derives its water… the oversights group’s technical advisor is touted as a hydrogeologist, but is not registered as such by the state of California…

  20. good reporting

    Anonymous 11:02 said… …This is not new news. Anyone who has picked up a newspaper in the past decade should know that the area by Mace Ranch is a Superfund site. To use this now as an anti-Target issue is ridiculous. This fight has been going on for years. I applaud Pam and her group for challenging the EPA’s findings, but maybe the EPA is right….I’ve picked up many a newspaper and I didn’t know the history. Assuming everybody knows the history makes an ass out of u and me.

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