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Shell Pond Cleanup and Wetland Restoration

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the PG&E Shell Pond?

The PG&E Shell Pond property is a private property owned by PG&E and located along the waterfront next to Suisun and Honker Bays in Bay Point, California.

What is the PG&E Shell Pond and why does it need to be cleaned up?

The PG&E Shell Pond is a 73-acre former wastewater area located in the center of a 292-acre parcel that PG&E purchased from Shell Oil Products Company (Shell) in 1973. From 1950 to 1973, Shell discharged wastewater into the pond from its chemical manufacturing activities. PG&E purchased the property with the intent of expanding operations it had in the area. The expansion did not occur, but PG&E kept the property and today is responsible for maintaining and cleaning it up. There are 240,000 cubic yards of sediments containing chemicals that will be dug up and disposed of at the Keller Canyon Landfill.

Who is overseeing the cleanup?

The cleanup project is being overseen by the State of California, Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), Contra Costa County, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, with input from the community.

What is the current status of the cleanup?

A temporary access road was constructed in 2011 and dredging work to remove impacted material from the bottom of the pond began in January 2012. Within a few days of conducting dredging operations, we determined that the odor control systems were not as effective as anticipated during project design. On January 19, 2012, PG&E conferred with DTSC, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and Contra Costa County and cooperatively elected to suspend all operations for an indeterminate amount of time to evaluate additional engineering options to more effectively manage site odors.

We anticipate that the engineering evaluation may take several months and we will not restart operations without agency approval.

How long will the cleanup last?

Cleanup and wetland restoration activities were expected to last until late-2012. Due to the recent suspension of cleanup activities, we cannot determine a completion date at this time. As soon as we are able to implement a new plan to more effectively manage off-site odors and the project restarts, we will update the project schedule accordingly.

How will cleanup work impact neighbors and the community?

The work is located far enough away from the community that we expect off-site impacts such as noise and vibrations to be very minor. Significant off-site odors related to the dredging were an unanticipated result. Due to these odors, PG&E has suspended the project until further notice. The project team is working on a new plan to more effectively manage off-site odors and anticipates implementation of these measures within a few months.

Excavation activities will cause an increase in traffic along Port Chicago Highway. There will be approximately 75 trips to and from the site (150 trips total) each day, which is about two extra trucks every ten minutes, for a period of six months.

How will traffic be managed?

A Traffic Management Plan has been developed and approved by DTSC and the County to make sure that traffic associated with this project is tightly controlled, safely managed and includes the following:

  • A Truck Boss will be responsible for managing and coordinating the flow of all truck traffic
  • Trucks will only use the approved truck route
  • Trained and certified flaggers will be stationed at key intersections along the McAvoy Road and Port Chicago Highway
  • Truckers and flaggers will be in constant communication with each other and the Truck Boss via two-way radios
  • Truckers and flaggers have received project specific training
  • Truckers must have a valid California Commercial Drivers license and Department of Transportation certifications and inspection records for their trucks
  • No more than two project-trucks will be allowed on Port Chicago Highway at any given time
  • Trucks will not be allowed to line up on or park on the shoulder of Port Chicago Highway
  • Trucks will be inspected, covered and cleaned before leaving the property
  • All trucks will have signs identifying them as part of the Shell Pond project with a toll-free number to call with complaints

What measures are being taken to protect the public and the environment?

In order to protect the surrounding community and environment, whenever possible, all trucks associated with the cleanup will be low emission and truck idle time will be limited. To avoid children walking to/from school, trucking hours will be restricted to 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, and trucks will not be allowed to run from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and other early dismissal days.

The project team will avoid biologically sensitive habitats on-site, will use low noise equipment, odor control technologies and practices, will divide construction activities to reduce daily air pollutant emissions, and will use best management practices for dust control and air pollutant emissions.

What will be the future use of this property?

When the cleanup is complete, the pond will be allowed to naturally revert to a wetland area. A portion of the access road will be used by the East Bay Regional Parks District for the Great California Delta Trail.

I heard that there is local hiring for this project? How do I apply for a position?

PG&E recognizes that hiring locally for this job is of great importance to the community. This past summer, PG&E in partnership with Contra Costa County, held several local hire information sessions to identify qualified local individuals early in the process which greatly increases the chances of the contractor using local people.

More than 10 local individuals were hired to fill temporary jobs associated with this project. Unfortunately, due to the recent suspension of cleanup activities, these temporary employees are no longer working on the project. Once the cleanup is ready to restart, PG&E will notify these employees and hopefully reassign them to their prior positions. We originally received more than 300 resumes from the local area, sorted those, conducted 100 phone screenings and passed along over 45 qualified applicants to the contractor.

Because PG&E is conducting this cleanup project in phases, interviews and hiring will occur in phases as well. The first round of interviews was conducted in September 2011 for administrative positions and the remaining interviews for laborers, drivers and equipment operators will take place once the project restarts. Some of the positions will be short term and last just a few weeks, while other jobs will be more long term.

At this time, due to the project suspension and the number of qualified applicants that have already applied, we have enough individuals to fill the available positions. However, we are always excited to receive qualified resumes and individuals are welcome to submit them through our Contra Costa partner agencies: Opportunity Junction at (925) 252.2337 or the Bay Point Career Center at (925) 252.2331.

What is a wetland and how will the cleanup benefit the community?

A wetland is an open space that provides a transition between water and land. Wetlands are also referred to as marshes or swamps. The cleanup of the Shell Pond property will restore one of the largest wetlands in the east bay and offers many important benefits to the community including:

  • Filters and cleans water runoff from the surrounding area
  • Absorbs water and limits flooding of nearby areas
  • Supplies water to underground aquifers (water underneath the ground)
  • Improves air quality in the community
  • Provides a home for animals, plants and fish
  • Provides an opportunity for recreation, education and the access road built as part of the project will become part of the Great California Delta Trail

What are the future plans for the Shell Pond property?

After cleanup is complete, PG&E will need to retain ownership of the property for several years to monitor the wetland restoration and make sure it is working as planned.

How can I get up-to-date information on the project?

PG&E has set up a 24-hour community hotline – 1 (877) 666-8436 – to ensure that community members can obtain project information and report complaints in a timely manner.

PG&E has also set up a project specific website at: www.pge.com/pge-shell-pond where you can find project information.

PG&E is committed to providing the community of Bay Point with information on this project. We will be issuing monthly updates on the project as well as holding informal open houses at key points of the project. Information about community outreach will be posted on PG&E’s website and you are welcome to call the hotline to leave your email address so we can send you project updates.

  • Environmental Leadership