Residents take dust complaints to Yee 

After complaints of dangerous metals in construction dust led to increased inspections of a nearby work site, boat owners and dwellers in the Oyster Point Marina are poised to take their issue to state legislators this weekend.

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, will host a town hall meeting in South San Francisco on Saturday, and up to 20 people from the marina could be on hand to voice their displeasure with developer Slough Estates, construction company Hathaway Dinwiddie and the regulatory agencies that say the site is in compliance with dust mitigation measures.

"We’d like to keep pressure up on the site," said Terry O’Rourke, who has lived on his 32-foot sailboat in the marina the last six years. "I’m discouraged because I see us as citizens living downwind and ill-served by the city."

Last September, boat owners and "live-aboards" — who make the vessels their residence — from the nearby marina complained about dust they said was coming from the 8.8-acre site at 333 Oyster Point Blvd. since excavation began there in early August.

Formerly a U.S. Steel plant, the site has large amounts of slag, a byproduct of steel production, that needs excavation before construction can begin on Slough’s 315,444-square-foot research and development facility with underground parking. The marina, which is a few hundred yards from the construction site, can hold about 600 boats.

The residents took samples of the dust that coated their decks, rigging and clothes and had it tested by a Bay Area laboratory, which they say found the dust containing 17 different heavy metals, including cadmium, chromium and lead.

City officials and officials from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board said that the site is in compliance with dust mitigation measures, and that inspections before and after the complaints yielded no violations — something marina users say there is no proof of. Officials have also speculated that the dust could be coming from U.S. Highway 101.

The complaints did result in a full-time city inspector at the site, said Ray Razavi, the city engineer for South San Francisco. Stockpiles of soil were also covered and there was additional watering on the site to keep dust down after the complaints.

"Once they complained, (inspectors) tightened up" the mitigation measures, Razavi said.

In the last two months, there has been one complaint about the dust, said Karen Schkolnick, a spokeswoman with the air quality district.

"It sounds like in this case, the contractor took on additional mitigations not as a result of any failure of the [dust mitigation] plan but as a way to ensure there’s no violations," Schkolnick said.

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