News

State budget cuts could slow Moffett cleanup

The Navy has yet to clean up miles of underground piping at Moffett Field, as well as dozens of underground storage tanks once used to hold oil and fuel for war planes and the USS Macon airship. Now the state regulator in charge of overseeing the cleanup faces the ax due to state budget cuts.

There was shock among members of the Moffett Restoration Advisory Board at its meeting last Thursday when Elizabeth Wells, regulator with the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, announced her pending layoff. She says she recently received a letter from the state that referred to her as "surplus." The letter apparently means Wells is likely to lose her job, though it isn't certain.

Lenny Siegel, director for the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, says layoff would likely mean that Wells, a Stanford-educated civil engineer with 12 years of experience, would be replaced by someone with less knowledge of, and time allotted for, Moffett Field.

According to a report Wells gave last November, there are 37 underground petroleum tanks that have yet to be closed. The federal Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for cleaning up most toxics at the Moffett superfund site, but superfund law leaves petroleum to Wells' state agency, commonly known as just the Water Board.

Wells has also partnered with the Federal EPA to clean several other portions of the superfund site, which has contaminated groundwater.

"The concerted effort and voice by the two agencies, in my opinion, has been a powerful tool in moving things forward," said Peter Strauss, a technical advisor at the Center for Public Environmental Oversight. Site 26, a large toxic groundwater plume east of the Moffett runway, "is a good example where they sent a joint letter to the Navy requiring the startup of the East Side Aquifer Treatment System, which led to the Navy moving ahead with an alternative," he said.

Siegel added that it would be within the Navy's interest that Wells stay, as it would mean a quicker clean-up process.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Grab a Bowl of Heaven soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 2,965 views

Don't fund the rape culture at my alma mater
By Jessica T | 36 comments | 2,855 views

Quick Check List for UC Applications
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 2,035 views

Palo Alto and Bay Area Election Facts and Thoughts on the Implications
By Steve Levy | 18 comments | 1,558 views

Fancy Fast and Fun!
By Laura Stec | 3 comments | 1,199 views