Immediate action required

Please take action now to get the asbestos out of your yard
Below is an email from Denise and an incident report from the BAAQMD.  In a sentence, the agencies and parties who should be protecting us from asbestos, aren’t  And, they won’t until we push them into action.  I thought I’d put the two things we need to do right up front so you can get started right away.

Two immediate actions are necessary for our safety
Action #1. We’ve got to send snail mail letters certified and requiring a return receipt or FedEx with a signature. Until these officials have signed for our letters, they are not obligated to respond to our demands for a proper clean-up of the asbestos the March 29th fire sprayed all over the island. After they sign, they have 45 days to respond. I know – this is utterly inadequate. But, we’ve got to cover our bases. and, the second action will provide more immediate results. So let’s let our elected officials feel our resolve.

Please take the time to send certified, signature required letters, tomorrow (April 2) if possible. Demand that an asbestos and hazardous material clean-up be done immediately. Here they are:

Send one letter to the Mayor and the Council Members:
Mayor Beverly Johnson
Vice Mayor Doug deHaan
Hon. Lena Tam
Hon. Marie Gilmore
Hon. Frank Mataresse
Send one letter to the City Manager
City Manager Ann Marie Gallant
Send one letter to the City Attorney
Teresa L. Highsmith, City Attorney
Darrell Handy, Risk Manager

Here is the address to send the above letters to:
Alameda City Hall
2263 Santa Clara Avenue
Alameda CA 94501

Send a certified, return-receipt letter to each of the following people as well:

Chief Daniel Kapler
Alameda Fire Department
1300 Park Street
Alameda CA 94501
(510) 337-2100


Brent Rudin
AQ Inspector
District Asbestos Program
Bay Area Air Quality Management
939 Ellis Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 771-5128

Action #2. Denise is also in touch with the county DA’s office, who is taking immediate action. They need information and have asked that we send them the following information so they can construct an accurate timeline:

    What you saw, where and when you saw it (in terms of the fire, the smoke and the debris)
    Who you’ve talked to (many of you have called the city, the AFD, the BAAQMD)
    What they told you to do or not do

Put the above info in the comments to this post.  We’ll be directing the DA investigator to read them here.

Here is Denise’s latest email, followed by the BAAQMD incident report:

See the BAAQMD (bay area air quality management district) incident report below. It’s astounding how cavalier every agency was on the day of the fire with regard to the risks to public health.   Despite hue and cry from residents to the city and fire department, this attitude continues.  We have not been properly protected.  Those in charge have not done their job well.

I have received the lab tests back and the material dispersed into my yard from the Alameda Hospital fire on 3/29 contains asbestos.

The material was 10% asbestos with mastic and was roofing material. 10% is in the range of requiring regulation and clean up.  We know also that the building most likely had asbestos floor tiles and lead paint. I’ve been told that the building did not have an elevator system so we extrapolate that we were not exposed to PCBs from an old system there (may or may not be true).

I have been on the phone a lot last week and this.  So far, the Mayor, Council, City Management, City Attorney’s office and the Fire Department have done nothing but soft shoe this, lied, and even given dangerous remedies to homeowner for dealing with the materials themselves.  Today, the City is not returning calls, and the AFD is bumping everything back to the City, and no one is answering phones.

On the day of the fire, the AFD saw and knew that the flotsam was not minimal. Residents called fire inspectors out to their homes to see the flotsam and inquire what can be done and about the danger.  AFD and the City Risk Manager have given disarming generalization and misleading information.  We’ve been told that asbestos is heavy and does not travel far.  We’ve been told to mow our lawns that contain the materials as a method of getting rid of it.  We’ve been told to pick the material up and dispose of it in our weekly trash collection.

BAAQMD continues to demur on every opportunity to do the right thing saying they do not enforce activity around unplanned events.   I have contacted board members of the BAAQMD to get some leadership and direction on this issue.

County Health is responsible for the ‘shelter in place’ order that came 12 hours after the fire started and got to very few people.

Frustrated, I contacted the State Attorney’s office who gave me explicit instructions and suggested I call the DA.  See the instructions below my signature and please PLEASE participate–write a letter tonight! Be sure to mail it certified return receipt or FedEx with a signature.  The recipient HAS to SIGN for our letters or the legal process of them being bound to respond does not begin!

Additionally, an investigator for the county DA has taken up the task of looking into this.  Which is GREAT.  The DA has an environmental team and they know exactly what agencies and reports should have been generated, what processes should have taken place, when and how.  If you will put together a timeline, list of contacts at the city and agencies that you’ve talked to and what they’ve told you, along with your personal observations of what happened, this would be very useful to the DA.




We’ll be updating this website as we learn more.  Please let us know what you find out as well.

Here is the text of the BAAQMD incident report dated March 29th:

On March 29 at approximately 2:12 a.m., a fire began at the old Naval Hospital located
in the City of Alameda.  On March 29 at approximately 9:30 a.m., the Alameda Fire
Department notified the District regarding the fire and potential for hazardous materials.
The wind was from the west at about 4-7 miles per hour and the smoke and ash was
impacting the community downwind.  The Navel Hospital was closed in 1996 and is an
abandoned building.

District Staff arrived on scene at about 11:15 a.m. and met with the Incident
Commander (IC) to assess the situation.  The building is estimated to be between 50 to
80 thousand square feet.  District Staff and the IC surveyed approximately a one mile
perimeter from the fire. The fire was generating a large white and black plume with ash
fallout extending at ground level approximately ½ mile downwind.  District Staff and the
IC concurred on recommending a shelter in place for the affected community about ½
mile directly downwind of the fire. At approximately 2:00 p.m. the City of Alameda
issued a shelter in place for the affected community approximately 1 mile to the east

The property owner of the previous navy facility is the City of Alameda.  District Staff
advised the Acting City Manager regarding the potential for asbestos containing building
materials and proper abatement.  During this incident, the District did not receive any
complaints or inquiries from the surrounding community.  At about 5:00 p.m. the heavy
construction equipment arrived to knock down parts of the structure to allow fire fighters
access into the structure and help extinguish the fire, which helped to reduce the smoke
and ash.  At 9:15 p.m. the shelter in place was lifted.  The fire department continued to
suppress the fire and smoke and cleanup is continuing.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.  District Staff will continue to
investigate this incident and monitor the asbestos cleanup process.  This report will be
updated as new information becomes available.


4 Responses to “Immediate action required”

  1. Mike G Says:

    As you may know the fire deposited a tremendous amount of debris down wind from the incident…
    My short story….. I returned home Sunday morning to discover so much fire debris in my yard, my first instinct was that my own house had caught fire, after determining it was not house, I assumed it had to be a neighbor. After speaking to a few neighbors we found out it was at Alameda Point. Shortly thereafter I called the Fire Department to ask where the fire was and what I had found in my yard. The Fire department administrator had the PIO officer from the scene call me back within minutes of my initial call. At that time he said there was a “Shelter in Place Order” and to stay indoors or leave Alameda if possible. He then sent an Inspector over to my house, within the hour, to look at the debris. A neighbor and I meet with the Inspector and he told us that the debris was wood debris, with the intimation of “Don’t worry about it”, so I reached down and grabbed apiece to show him and he quickly said “Don’t touch it.” Then he said to put on gloves and a mask and bag the big pieces and throw them away. Then I asked what about all the small pieces that are everywhere…He suggested I Mow it…. He left within five minutes… I have not been able yet to get an answer to what the debris is much less the proper way to clean it up from any Alameda Department.
    Here is an email I sent to the city of Alameda, who then rerouted the email to the Alameda Fire Dept…..
    Over this last weekend the large hospital fire on the naval base deposited a tremendous amount of debris onto house and all over my lawn, as well as everything that happened to be outside. This also includes all the neighbors on my block. I have several questions regarding the possible hazardous material that may have come from this naval building.
    I have spoken to Five different agencies and none of them could tell me what the debris is or even how to clean up and dispose of the debris. A fire inspector even came to investigate and all he could say was “Do not touch the debris and you should call the City manager to figure out how to deal with the debris. The City manager referred me to the Alameda Health department, who then referred me to the environmental Health department,who then referred me to yet another Alameda Dept. None of which could give even the slight clue as to whom tho talk to or any guidelines as to how to clean this up. I have a 3 year old and 4 month old and the entire yard is covered in debris from this fire. Please help
    Michael Gunnell

    Alameda Fire Departments Reply;
    Mr. Grunnell, I spoke with yesterday about the debris in your yard from the structure fire over the weekend. I can assure you that there were no hazardous chemicals in the building. There was minimal amounts of lead based paint and asbestos. As you might know that the asbestos dose not burn. The likelihood of any asbestos or lead based paint being airborne is very remote. The debris that landed in your yard is typical wooden building materials.

    As I mentioned when you clean your yard take measures to protect yourself. Use a filter mask and gloves when handling the material and then place it in a plastic garbage bag and dispose of it in you trash container. For those things with ash on them use a damp cloth to wipe them off.
    My reply:
    While I appreciate your assurance that there was minimal amounts of lead
    paint as well as asbestos, I have found unburned paint pieces from that fire
    in my yard this morning, which I will be happy to show anyone. As you know
    asbestos is only INERT when it is wetted or covered, when it becomes
    airborne or disturbed in any fashion then it becomes a hazard. So I can only
    assume when debris lands a 1/2 mile away from the fire that not only wood
    debris has become airborne,whether or not is has burned . And to say the
    debris which landed in my yard and covered everything is only wood debris,
    without as much as taking a sample, is quite a large assumption. I have a
    nice piece of paint for you to sample if you would like.. And the guidelines
    for asbestos removal as well as lead paint clean up are fairly stringent.
    Yet the suggestion to mow up the debris I am sure does not fall within those
    I simply would like to know what the entire neighborhood has been coated in
    as well as the proper procedure is to clean up the mess (official guidelines
    or recommendations)

    • zizzlah Says:

      Hey Mike G – can you send me a picture of the paint sample? I’d like to post it on the site – let people know what to watch out for.

      Thanks – Liz

  2. zizzlah Says:

    Thanks, Mike. As you’ve correctly pointed out, it’s not the burning of asbestos that’s a problem, it’s the distribution of the almost indestructible asbestos fibers that concerns us.

    My understanding is there is no such thing as a minimal amount of asbestos. That is, any amount is toxic to the human body, hence the stringent clean-up requirements. So saying “minimal amounts of asbestos” is like..well, it’s just like lying.

  3. Water your asbestos « Alameda Army Medical Depot Fire Says:

    […] the city those certified letters mentioned in this post. Please. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)History Lesson on AsbestosThey Said – […]

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