September 5, 2007 Department of Public Health meeting- message from the Director of EH&S

September 10, 2007

On September 5, 2007, the State of California Department of Public Health convened a meeting at the Richmond Field Station to present the findings of and answer questions about the draft Public Health Assessment of the Richmond Field Station (see August 17, 2007 news item). The following is a message from Mark Freiberg , the Director of the campus Office of Environment, Health & Safety, to the RFS Community regarding the meeting.

Dear RFS Community:

On behalf of UC Berkeley's Office of Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S), I'd like to thank all who were able to attend Wednesday's staff meeting to hear representatives from the state Department of Public Health (DPH), Contra Costa County Health Services Department (CCCHSD), and EH&S discuss DPH's draft Public Health Assessment for RFS. We appreciate the time and effort you took to come out and share your comments and questions.

For those who were not able to attend, we encourage you to read the two-page summary the county health officials developed to explain in plain language the preliminary findings from the draft report. Following is a very brief summary of DPH's points:

- It is safe to work at RFS and to use the Bay Trail.

- With reasonable precautions, such as training and proper work procedures, workers digging in RFS soils are quite safe.

- There is no evidence that indoor air quality at RFS poses any health hazard, although more sampling would be helpful.

DPH officials also stated that additional data is needed in some areas to provide additional reassurance that contamination remains below health concern levels. To address this need, our office will be collecting additional indoor quality air samples in coordination with DPH, and we will continue to work with the Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC), the agency charged with cleanup oversight at the RFS, to perform additional monitoring and sampling over the coming months.

At the Wednesday meeting, some employees expressed concern about RFS staff and students who may dig in the soils for purposes such as installation of research instrumentation and environmental sample collection. This is a reminder that any disturbance of soil at RFS must first be authorized through RFS Manager John Felling's office (665-3402 or While there is no evidence that digging in unfenced areas at the RFS poses a health risk, such activity can potentially damage underground utilities or sensitive plant or animal species.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions about information contained in the DPH assessment. You may also contact DPH staff at the number listed on the summary.

Mark Freiberg
Director, EH&S