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Local company's toxic plume map causes alarm

Original post made on May 22, 2014

Palo Alto resident Bob Wenzlau has taken on the task of mapping the various toxic plumes in Mountain View and surrounding cities, which has caused some alarm among Mountain View residents and employees.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 22, 2014, 8:32 AM

Comments (22)

Posted by Oh, i see what you did there
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 22, 2014 at 9:06 am

Fascinating that the guy who it touting and SELLING air testing kits would put out a map of exaggerated contamination areas.
I may buy an air test kit one day but never from this guy.

Next up, an umbrella company is forecasting torrents of rain this season. Better get prepared!

Posted by Pluot
a resident of Rex Manor
on May 22, 2014 at 9:28 am

It was a mistake using the color purple to highlight these toxic plumes because I just think they're toxic plums and then I'm hungry.

Posted by Steven A.
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 22, 2014 at 11:09 am

Toxic fumes. Bah. It's not like that could actually hurt anyone. Okay, yeah birth defects, but what else? Cancer, so what? We're young ... who cares?

Posted by Well, actually
a resident of Bailey Park
on May 22, 2014 at 11:47 am

Steven, nobody is arguing toxicity for areas affected, the point is that there simply aren't as many of these toxic areas affected as reported by the guy selling air test equipment. (shocker)

The story is about some of the first reported hot spots are exaggerations and not hot spots at all.
If the toxic fumes ARE NOT THERE, then indeed, there is no reason to worry.

Posted by Bob Wenzlau
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2014 at 12:19 pm

To "Oh, i see what you did there",

The comment about being the umbrella manufacturer that forecasts torrents of rains hit hard. Ouch.

We are trying to make accurate forecasts of plumes - very hard. The government agencies did not do this, so we took on the effort. We asked the agencies to engage with trying to make better maps, but it was only after we published the maps that the engagement occurred. As we get their comments, we adjust the map. There is more work to do, and we are engaging with the agencies as to protocols.

Selling umbrellas. There are two aspects of this.

First, how do you monetize an effort to show environmental information to the public. The content development is laborious. We have had the maps made by interns from Palo Alto High School and Stanford. I have to pay them. Hence I need to make some income. Why not umbrellas.

Second, umbrellas protect you from rain, and being able to test can give you comfort that the air in your home is not impacted. We are hoping to do collaborative testing with the government agencies. With this a person over the plume could know whether the chemicals are occurring in there home. We make some money, and can improve the map and improve the coverage.

I would be happy to let you use one of the devices, just reach out to me. We want to be able to learn from the experience. If you look at our blog, you will see that we are very serious about making a helpful contribution.


Posted by Alex Edholm
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2014 at 1:54 pm

What he said.

Posted by Env Scientist
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2014 at 5:49 pm

I am an environmental consultant working on these plumes for one of the responsible parties. I can tell you the responsible parties are very serious about protecting human health and cleaning up these plumes and reducing exposure to these chemicals. They spend millions of dollars doing so. The spills occurred many decades ago, in most cases, and at the time it wasn't known what the impacts were to the environment. These issues are very difficult and expensive to clean up. It is also important to note that the chemicals previously leaked into the ground and now, in some cases, are intruding into indoor air are legal chemicals that are present in many building materials and consumer and cleaning products. Background levels of these contaminants exist in homes and buildings were there are no contaminants in the ground. The issue is very serious and I believe the right people are focusing on it.

Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Bailey Park
on May 23, 2014 at 6:08 am

All asides aside, I think it is very good news that the apparent dangerous level of contamination thought to be in many areas, is actually not present in many of those areas.

Posted by casey
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2014 at 11:52 am

He may be selling a DIY air test kit, but that is far from obvious. I couldn't find any mention of the kit on the mapping app or his website.

Posted by DC
a resident of North Whisman
on May 24, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Easy to find the data and map? like on the internet cause everything on the internet is has to be......

Posted by Kellie Huston
a resident of another community
on May 27, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Bob Wenzalau,

I would certainly be interested in seeing the vapor intrusion (if any) from these low level concentrations in groundwater. I am in the homebuilding industry. Obviously this could be a major consideration if there are vapor intrusion impacts from these "non-regulated" plumes. Thanks much!

Posted by Geoguy
a resident of another community
on May 29, 2014 at 9:27 am

Mapping of groundwater plumes is not a simple task and should not be taken lightly. I know since this is my profession and I have been doing i?t for decades. The idea of using high school students do this work is absurd. Whats next, hiring high school students to do brain surgery, designing advanced car safety systems or railroad tankers for transporting heavy crude across the country?

Posted by Back In NYC
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2014 at 1:43 pm

LOL, you people are paying for contaminated real estate. Mountain View is a toxic dump and a moral cesspool. Having spent eight years in your ghastly little town, I can say that it is unquestionably the worst place I have ever lived. It'll be amusing to watch it circle the drain, from a distance.

Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 2, 2014 at 2:01 pm

And you have obviously moved on with your life since you came back here just to trow rocks.
You must really be living the dream. You seem really happy.

Posted by Not for everyone
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 2, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Please read Back In NYC's post.
If you think you might be the kind of person he is, MV is definitely NOT the town for you. You will hate it here, just as he did. If you think you might be a different kind of person, I'm sure you'll find MV very attractive, just as so many others do as they fight over the scant few houses available.
Remember, if you think like Back In NYC, MV and you are a total mismatch, but if you think differently, I bet you'll love it here.
Its really all about different tastes.

Posted by Back In NYC
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2014 at 4:31 pm

How many Toxic Superfund sites are in your overpriced little town? Do you even know? You're paying extravagant amounts of money for that TCE contaminated dirt you live on. As the Pope says in Ken Russell's delightful family film, THE DEVILS, "Have fun!"

Posted by Back In NYC
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Your precious computer industry is toxic as hell. That's why they shipped the manufacturing to China. It ain't just toxic, it is also as racist as the day is long. I truly hate you all, and I am REALLY going to enjoy watching Mountain View die from here. That's why I'm here, on this stupid awful website celebrating your wretched little town. It's as amusing as watching a fly drown in a pot of glue.

It's a NYC thing called "schadenfreude." Look it up. Google it. You wouldn't understand it. Californians in general are stupid and narcissistic, and Silicon Valley is the very ugliest part of California.

Posted by Back In NYC
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2014 at 11:47 pm

To be perfectly honest, they shipped the manufacturing to China because slaves were cheaper in China then. The tech industry loves slavery. But the serious pollution involved in computer manufacturing was shunted onto a country that doesn't give a damn about the environment not only because Chinese slavery appeals, it was also done because computer manufacturing is FILTHY from a measured and examined environmental standpoint. The computer industry is utterly toxic.

And you halfwits think that riding a bicycle to work will somehow ameliorate that. And you fret about cigarette smoke. I'm REALLY going to enjoy watching you die.

Posted by Homesick Old Ben
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 3, 2014 at 6:40 am

I'm just glad you guys are still around. I know i can be curt at times, but as you can tell, even in NY, I still crave the discussions about MV. I cannot move on because in my heart I know I never left. That's why I cannot stop coming back. I simply love this town too much.

Posted by Dr Evaluation
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 3, 2014 at 6:44 am

"I'm REALLY going to enjoy watching you die."
You're obviously winning. Look how happy and well adjusted you have become.
These are the kinds of things happy and well adjusted people say all the time.
You must be inundated with party invites!

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2014 at 1:09 pm

@ back in NYC

I agree with what you say, How ever, I am also glad that you are back in NYC.

Posted by Back in NYC
a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2014 at 7:02 am

Yes, MV is like any other larger city with its challenges, but its also such an amazing place surrounded by even more amazing places, that its nearly impossible to try and find a negative to complain about unless I really try hard. Sometimes I do try and succeed, but for right now I'm just feeling the love. Have a great week MV!

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