Iconic fishmonger Alioto-Lazio Fish Co. shuts down due to toxic cleanup 

The Alioto-Lazio Fish Co., an iconic seafood purveyor that has been in business for 70 years, is temporarily shutting its doors because of health concerns related to a nearby construction project.

On Dec. 29, Exxon-Mobil began cleaning up ocean-floor sediment contaminated by a decades-old oil leak next to the headquarters of Alioto-Lazio, which is located at 440 Jefferson St. in the Fisherman’s Wharf area.

Due to the work, which involves excavating and jackhammering, employees at the seafood distributor have been forced to deal with a constant barrage of loud noises, floor vibrations, nasty odors and noxious fumes, said Angela Cincotta, one of owners of the business that is famous for its fish and crab products.

“It’s making us sick, and we really can’t deal with it anymore,” said Cincotta, who added that she suffered from an asthma attack and required medical assistance while at work recently.

Cincotta said the business plans  to reopen once the cleanup work is finished. Initially, the company was told that would be Jan. 31, but now it has been informed that the work will last until Feb. 20, she said. Renee Dunn Martin, a spokeswoman for the Port of San Francisco, said the project is projected to take six weeks.

According to Dunn Martin, the site was contaminated from an oil leak first detected in the 1930s. In 2008, the Port discovered new seepage in the contaminated area and sued Exxon-Mobil to clean it up.

The company came up with a corrective action plan in January 2010, which Dunn Martin said it presented in numerous public forums and had approved by local and regional regulatory bodies. The Port’s lawsuit has been stayed, pending the results of the cleanup.

But Cincotta complained that none of the agencies that approved the cleanup were related to the food industry. Along with posing a health risk to workers, she said, the construction work could have an adverse affect on Alioto-Lazio’s seafood products.

In 2009, Alioto-Lazio filed a separate suit against Exxon-Mobil and the Port seeking damages related to the oil seepage.

Alioto-Lazio is one of the last family-owned fishing companies in San Francisco. The company also is famous for its all-female management team.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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Will Reisman

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