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Environment

Council votes on Zeneca site clean-up and development

Electrician and two-time cancer survivor Sherry Padgett could throw a baseball from her 49th Street cabling business and hit what Richmond residents call “the Zeneca site:” an eighty-seven-acre property that contains more than a century’s inheritance of hazardous waste from manufacturers including the now-defunct herbicide maker Stauffer Chemical and the European pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. Padgett calls the chemicals on the site a “witch’s brew.” Around 10 p.m. Tuesday, the City Council voted 5-2 to reverse its support for a cleanup…

Richmond waste roundup combats illegal dumping

A steady line of vehicles pulled into the parking lot of Richmond’s Galileo Club, most of them carrying old mattresses, hazardous household waste and empty propane tanks. Workers in neon vests unfastened the cushy bedding and large containers, moving and stacking the items like a well-oiled machine.  The scene was Richmond’s annual Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection drive, which this year fell on Saturday, Sept. 14. The event invites citizens of West County not only to dispose of domestic waste…

Amid health concerns, Richmond officials consider a ban on coal storage and transport

The Richmond City Council will soon consider an ordinance that would restrict the handling of coal and petcoke, a byproduct of oil refining, on port terminals in Richmond. A draft of the ordinance, introduced in December, has been approved by the city attorney, and it is expected to go to the council for a vote, although according to that office, a date has not been set yet.  The ordinance, authored by Councilmember Eduardo Martinez, calls for “the prohibition on the…

Developers present plans for Point Molate to Richmond City Council

Orton Development, Samuelson Schafer, SunCal, and Point Molate Partners each presented plans, in 20-minute chunks, to both the council and a chamber filled with protesting members of the public. The crowd, many a part of the Point Molate Alliance— a coalition of residents which that seeks to halt development on the site—carried signs, pictures, paintings and an illustrated cloth banner that said “Save Pt. Molate.” Over 30 people spoke during the public comment period to criticize and oppose the proposed plans.

Western monarch butterflies could disappear

Each year, thousands of monarch butterflies from across the west make their way to the California coast where they spend their winter, including making migratory stops at East Bay parks. For the past two decades, volunteer citizen scientists have been counting them during the Annual Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, organized by the Xerces Society. Christina Garcia, a naturalist at the East Bay Regional Park District, has been counting butterflies at Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont for over 20 years. This…

Climate change puts Richmond’s plant and animal populations in a state of flux

Faster-than-average warming is bringing changes to Richmond’s ecosystems. Temperatures and sea levels are rising. Fog patterns are shifting. Richmond’s plants and animals are facing a future of altered habitats. Anna’s hummingbird feeding on pallid manzanita nectar in a stand of maritime chaparral at Sobrante Ridge Regional Preserve To the west lies 32 miles of shoreline, the longest of any city in the Bay Area. To the east lie the hills: Sobrante Ridge and Wildcat Canyon. These open spaces contain salt…

Will Olympia oysters survive in the Bay?

We waded through murky bay waters and patches of deep mud under the light of the moon and our headlamps. Cool water sloshed over the tops of our boots and covered our toes. We moved slowly and carefully across the slick bottom of the bay. The tide was going out, nearing its lowest mark, and the oyster reef balls had begun to appear as the receding waters exposed them.  Watershed project volunteers huddled around the reef balls with scrub brushes,…

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