Experts say residents have been breathing toxic air for decades.
Mid-Sunset Neighborhood Association - Press Release, January 12, 2022
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The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) recently sent letters to Mid-
Sunset homeowners informing them of elevated toxic tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene, PERC, or PCE) vapors in their homes. PCE is a dry cleaning solvent that even at low levels of exposure causes multiple types of cancer and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s.
Lenny Siegel, director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight (CPEO), said that after reviewing these letters as well as public documents that show soil gas contamination throughout the area, “it’s clear that the whole neighborhood should be subject to a full environmental review.”
The recent letters from DTSC confirm that toxic PCE gas above the State of California’s
screening level was measured inside the homes adjacent to the now-former Police Credit Union (PCU) property at 2550 Irving St. The source is a soil gas plume created by toxic releases from the two dry cleaners that operated in the immediate area for decades.
Adam Michaels, one of the impacted homeowners, says, “For months, DTSC and the Police
Credit Union have known that we’ve been exposed for decades to elevated levels of PCE in our own homes. Mitigation is overdue, and we need a guarantee that the affected homes get ventilation systems and this entire mess be remediated and cleaned up.”
the entire 2500 block of Irving Street that extends into the adjacent residential areas with the full extent yet to be delineated. This block is the former home of two dry cleaners. Elevated PCE gas levels were previously found inside the PCU building at 2550 Irving and in the subsurface on both sides of Irving. In late October, DTSC issued an Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Order (ISE) for the former dry cleaner at 2509-2511 Irving—a Cortese site on the south side of Irving. A Cortese listing designates a California toxic waste site that needs remediation.
Currently there are no plans to clean up any of this contamination.
The Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC) recently bought the property from the PCU to build an affordable housing project. TNDC is using a provision in California Senate Bill 35 that exempts affordable housing developments from any California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) environmental review.
“Moving ahead with construction without cleanup is bad for the current neighbors and bad for the low-income residents who would be living in TNDC’s building,” says Flo Kimmerling, the president of the Mid-Sunset Neighborhood Association. “We are very worried about the health of this neighborhood. We have an alarming number of cancer and Parkinson cases near the site.”
According to Don Moore, a professional geologist who is an expert in managing contaminated sites, “DTSC should follow their own standards and declare the 2550 Irving Street property and the impacted residential areas an extension of the southside Cortese list site or give 2550 Irving its own Cortese listing. SB 35 cannot shield a Cortese site from an environmental review.”
Kimmerling says the neighborhood is asking DTSC to use its regulatory authority to:
Determine the source and location of the contamination;
Develop a comprehensive plan to clean up the soil gas before new construction makes cleanup more difficult;
Do additional soil vapor and indoor air sampling to determine the full extent of the contamination above screening levels;
Do prompt mitigation—such as subsurface ventilation—of any contaminated homes.
The following people are available for interviews:
Adam Michaels/Yi Kuan Lee – homeowners of one of the affected homes
Richard Chui – homeowner of one of the affected homes
Flo Kimmerling – President, Mid-Sunset Neighborhood Association
Lenny Siegel – former mayor of Mountain View and Director of the Center for Public
Don Moore PG, ARM – Principal, Environmental Risk Solutions