By Daniel Borsuk
Contra Costa County supervisors learned the City of Pittsburg is about to launch its own investigation into whether radioactive contaminated soil or material that may have been illegally deposited at Keller Canyon Landfill from the decommissioned Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and could potentially have spoiled underground water and air in the vicinity of the landfill.
The city’s investigation, according to Pittsburg Environmental Affairs Manager Laura Wright will be independent of the $150,000 study that the Contra Costa County Health Services Department will fund through Keller Canyon Mitigation funds. The county health department study will be confined to whether radioactive materials were illegally deposited at the landfill off Bailey Road from the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.
So far, city of Pittsburg officials pinpointed $10,000 to pay for its study, but do not know what the total cost of its study will be or how it will be entirely paid, Wright told supervisors.
In all likelihood, the city will tap the state for additional funds, but did not identify specific sources, said District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen of San Ramon.
District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg mentioned Pittsburg could tap Keller Canyon Mitigation funds.
“We want to go and assure the public there is no risk,” Wright said. She said the city is responding to citizen concerns about potential health risks related to landfill management practices based on angry citizen reaction from a community meeting at the Ambrose Community Center on June 28.
In the meantime, the county will tap into the Keller Canyon Mitigation Fund to hire a consultant to conduct a study into whether radioactive material has been illegally dumped in the landfill off Bailey Road.
There have been at least two reported incidents one in June 2014 and another in February 2015 when truckloads of radioactive material or soil left the former San Francisco naval shipyard and were caught before the material/soil was dumped onto the Pittsburg landfill.
Lisa Dela Rosa questioned the county’s use of Keller Canyon Mitigation funds, which emanate from landfill operator Republic Services, to pay for the landfill study. “Would this be an illegal use of funds?” she asked.
County Counsel Sharon Anderson said it is appropriate for the county to tap into the mitigation fund to cover cost for the landfill study.
“We are not going to wait to determine who is going to pay for this study,” said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg. “If necessary we’ll recoup the costs from the operator or the Navy. We want to assure the public that there is no risk in place.’’
Supervisors Prepare to Pass Commercial Cannabis Tax Measure for Voters
Supervisors set the stage to formally adopt at their July 17 meeting a general tax ordinance on commercial cannabis activities. If it is adopted, as it is expected to occur after supervisors unanimously passed the tax ordinance with scant public opposition at their Tuesday meeting, voters will get a chance to approve or reject the measure at the upcoming Nov. 6 election.
Should the ordinance get the final send off from the supervisors at next Tuesday’s meeting and county voters pass the measure in the fall, the tax measure would take effect on Jan. 1, 2019.
Tax rates would vary based on the type of cannabis business one is engaged in. For instance, the initial tax rate for an indoor cultivator would be $7 per foot and would become $10 per foot at the maximum tax rate. For a distributor the initial tax rate would be 2 percent of the gross receipts and the maximum rate would be 3 percent of the gross receipts. For a retailer the initial rate would be 4 percent of the gross receipts and the maximum rate would 6 percent of the gross receipts. Other tax rates are listed for testing, manufacturing, and cultivators (i.e. nursery, greenhouse, outside).
First 5 executive director Sean Casey supported the tax ordinance proposal saying, “This will not be a significant amount of money to start, but it’s a first step.” Nonprofit educational organizations like Casey’s program and other social welfare and health organizations are expected to be monetary beneficiaries of the cannabis tax measure should it go into effect.
John Thiella of JGP Associates and representing cannabis businesses cautioned supervisors. “Lower taxes. Suspend action on the taxes until 2021,” he said.
Stand Together Contra Costa Progress Report
A year after the board of supervisors awarded a $500,000 grant to the Stand Together Contra Costa, a nonprofit organization designed to defend immigrants under the eye or arrest of the United State Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the board received and approved as a consent item a progress report.
Some of the STCC’s activities include: Conducted 582 immigration consultations; completed 35 intakes for legal representation; represented/representing 310 people in bond and removal proceedings; recruited and trained 108 volunteers as legal observers; reported, observed, verified 19 incidents of reported ICE activity; and launched a 24/7 hotline (925) 900-5151.