Citizens for North County

inadequate analysis of soil contamination by Caruso Project

The following is an example of a similar situation in Encinitas where in 1994 the City Council approved the development of 40 homes on toxaphene-contaminated soil. The City was sued and ordered to perform a full Environmental Impact Review (EIR). Subsequently, random soil testing resulted in the finding that the levels of toxic chemicals in the ground constituted unacceptable risks to human health. The applicant was directed by the City to remove the contaminated soils before it began construction of single family homes. Today, thanks to CEQA, forty families live in the subdivision next to Quail Botanical Gardens where they can garden, dig and play in yards free from silent exposure to toxic compounds.

Citizens for North County, No on Measure A With Major Funding by Westfield, LLC * ID# 1380112. 

Other shortcomings include that:

  • There is no indication where hiking and biking trails, picnic areas and other passive recreational activities may be overlaying post-agricultural lands with elevated levels of toxaphene.
  • It incorrectly states all of the 48 acres of Parcel 8 are zoned commercial retail, when a portion of the acres are actually zoned for open space.
  • According to 3rd Party Peer review, Measure A states that it is consistent with the Carlsbad General Plan Open Space and Conservation Element because hazardous soils tests have been conducted and soil/geotechnical evaluations are required by the Environmental Protection Features (EPFs), (Carlsbad Policy C.16). However, no EPFs require soil testing for contamination.

Measure A states the City of Carlsbad Implementing Policy and Action Program, C.16, for soil contamination an mitigation, does not apply, that review requirements call for reviews to be ministerial, and therefore exempt from CEQA requirements.

An important part of the 3rd party peer review, stating that measures to reduce exposure to toxaphene in soils in the P-OS areas would be required, was left out of the memo, at the time the City Council accepted the 9212 report and approved the project. This was corrected as "typographical error" on February 9, 2016. Here is the 2/9/16 City of Carlsbad letter concerning the third party peer review memo and the corrected version of the memo:

According to the City of Carlsbad 3rd Party Peer Review of Caruso's Hazardous Materials Measure A Environmental Assessment, the analysis was incomplete, inadequate and used out-of-date ASTM standards for evaluating the impacts of toxaphene contamination of the soil on the project site.

Toxaphene is a highly toxic and bio-accumulative insecticide that was commonly used in agriculture. One of the so-called Dirty Dozen, it is one of a group of 12 chemicals considered to be a highly toxic, persistent chemical known to cause adverse health effects in both humans and animals, and thought to be a carcinogen in humans. Its use was banned in the United States in 1990 and worldwide in 2001.

Their independent expert commented that the environmental assessment report:

  •  Lacks the detail necessary to support the recommendations and conclusions presented, and does not provide sufficient detail for the development of an actionable Phase II analysis.
  • Fails to call for detailed sampling and analysis of those parts of post-agricultural land slated for hiking and biking trails, picnic areas and other passive recreational activities (P-OS areas) that contain elevated levels of toxaphene.
  • Fails to discuss the potential release of hazardous materials in the P-OS areas, and fails to discuss potential soil remediation efforts.
  • Fails to discuss the potential impact on hazards if contaminated soil would be removed from the project site.

Additionally, the Measure A environmental assessment states that:

  • The 2004 Lennar Communities environmental assessment for residential land use on the same site concluded that 21 out of 25 samples contained unacceptable levels of toxaphene. It estimated that 191,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil would need to be removed/remediated for the project. The estimated cost for soil removal/remediation was $16.4 million.
  • The Measure A environmental assessment concludes that with the current and anticipated future Measure A zoning, the soil is suitable for open space, commercial/industrial and agricultural land uses with no further soil testing and no remediation.
  • However, according to 3rd party peer review memo as amended 2/9/16, measures to reduce exposure to toxaphene in the P-OS areas would be required (see below.)

The report also shows that:

  • The Measure A environmental assessment employs a less stringent standard to evaluate toxaphene levels in the soil that does not factor in direct exposure to children and others with potentially elevated sensitivities to environmental contaminants. From the California Regional Water Quality Control Board San Francisco Bay Region: