Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

CFAR Pushes Masonite Site Environmental Review

From Antonio Andrade
Citizens For Adequate Review

As DDR was not being responsive to our lawsuit and claiming refuge for their activities claiming they were simply implementing the site remediation plan signed off on by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board’s (NCRWQB), it prompted Citizens For Adequate Review (CFAR) to review an early communication directed to the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and to reframe some of those issues and follow-up with other issues that had not been addressed in the remediation process.

We did not go public with the communication when it was sent in late summer.  We did not want to negatively impact our negotiations with the County or DDR.  Now that the suit is settled, it is important that the City, County, local agencies and Boards who have oversight responsibilities continue to press for comprehensive remediation of the site.  My conversations with Environmental Health Director John Morley were not encouraging in this respect.  It was John’s position that his Department has no oversight responsibilities for the site and that his Department was mistakenly listed in the NCRWQB-approved remediation plan as a secondly agency who should be  coordinated with for remediation of the site.   Isn’t the site located in Mendocino County?  Don’t they oversee the buried fuel containers for gas stations in the county  and didn’t they oversee the remediation process for leaky fuel tanks?

Right now the focus needs to be on getting a response to this communication and/or getting DTSC in on the oversight…

August 22, 2009

Mr. Craig Hunt, Water Resources Control Engineer

North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, (NCRWQCB)

5550 Skylane Blvd., Suite A

Santa Rosa, California 95403

Dear Mr. Hunt

I am writing on behalf of Citizens For Adequate Review (CFAR) to comment on the Soils and Groundwater Management Plan (SGMP) submitted on the Former Masonite Facility by SCS Engineers on July 6, 2006. At the outset, we want to commend the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board (NCRWQCB) for their increased level of review of the remediation process over the past few months. We believe remediation at the site requires the attention and oversight it is now getting. Unfortunately, because it appears there was no public notification and solicitation of public comment on this remediation plan, we did not have the opportunity to review the plan and submit input. We are now taking this opportunity to do so.

That being said, aside from the recent requirement for dioxin testing which we welcome, we are extremely concerned that the entire remediation process is essentially driven by concerns about petro-chemicals soil contamination and asbestos in the now-demolished structures. See Appendix 1. We will present credible information regarding the public’s potential exposure of the public to toxics.

First, given this potential public exposure, CFAR is quite concerned about the late stage notification by the NCRWQCB to the public in this process and the delay in posting of information about the remediation process on your website. Given the advanced stage of this process, the public has been disadvantaged in terms of involvement and input. Second, there have been a number of revised work plans submitted on the project. In some way, given the narrow scope SCS Engineering has put on this project, CFAR is not surprised because we firmly believe there was an effort to minimize potential toxics on the site. We would like to know if these revised work plans were envisioned by the NCRWQCB? Third, on page 4 of the above-referenced SGMP, SCS Engineers identifies Mendocino County’s Environmental Health (EH) as the secondary oversight agency and states it will coordinate with the NCRWQCB on this project. It is CFAR’s best information that EH has not approved any of the soils excavation at the site or reviewed soil samples, etc. Essentially what has transpired is the current owner, Diversified Developers Realtors (DDR) is notified by the NCRWQCB they can proceed with an excavation. DDR’s representative then goes to the County Planning Department and obtains an excavation permit and EH is not notified or in the loop. There is no record of any testing on the site being forwarded to EH. Where is the coordination?

Given the Remediation work is of such magnitude and scope, we ask that an Environmental Impact Report or the functional equivalent of an EIR be prepared for this purpose. We believe there is a fair argument of potential impacts to warrant such a document. CFAR is not aware of such a document having been filed. CFAR has serious questions about the adequacy of the above-referenced SGMP. We believe the Site History is a wholly inadequate description of the use the property and based on this failure and others, we believe the SGMP has fatal flaws and requires revision in order to remediate the environmental impacts on the site. This is an extremely crucial point as the NCRWQCB acknowledges on GeoTracker that you have no site history available for the former Masonite facility. This communication will cover our research and the information we believe germane to developing an adequate remediation plan.

CFAR also wants to apprise you that on January 14, 2008, we filed a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) suit against Mendocino County to request additional review of the activity going on at the site. Please note that due to the nature of our suit, the review process we are requesting will be based solely on the information before Mendocino County as of the date the suit was filed. Any additional information or facts unearthed subsequent to that date will not become a part of the record and will not factor into that review process.

The areas this communication covers are as follows:

1) Site History

2) Review of other similar sites

3) The magnitude and toxicity of the chemicals used on site and the by-products of the manufacturing processes at the facility

4) Past violations of both Federal and State environmental laws at the site and lax Mendocino County oversight reflect poor business practices and demonstrate the need for in depth testing.

5) Past Classification of the site.

6) How the current owner, DDR and their Partner describe their intended use of the site project to the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission — Limitations of the piecemeal approach taken during the demolition and remediation processes

1) Site History

We believe the needs assessment for the work plan is flawed. The two paragraph site history provided by SCS Engineers ignores over 50 years of intensive chemical storage, use, and the hazardous byproducts of the manufacturing process. We all know that use of chemicals, treatment of chemical spills and disposal of toxic chemicals was virtually ignored for the majority of the time the plant was in operation. How can any rational, scientific assessment of the property be viable when this crucial information was overlooked? Note, although the focus on a petro spill in 2004 has merit, the SCS remediation plan focuses on petro chemical contamination. However the spills in 2004 and over the years pale in the face of the chemicals used and stored on site.

More specifically, the site was constructed between 1948 and 1951. Although traditionally viewed as a wood products manufacturing plant, this is a mischaracterization. For instance, according to Masonite hazardous materials records filed with Mendocino County (as mandated by California Health and Safety Code provision 6.95), in 1998, along with the 350,000 pounds of wood chips, 520,000 gallons of used oil and diesel fuel, and 40,000 gallons of propane daily, the plant, on average, used in excess of 40,000 gallons a day of “extremely hazardous substances” together with extremely large quantities of other less hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing process. See Appendix 2 for a complete list of extremely hazardous chemicals on site, a chemical inventory, and hazardous waste descriptions.

Day after day, for over 50 years, toxic products were utilized as a part of manufacturing. Manufacturing processes change.Often, when chemicals were found to be more toxic than imagined or safer chemicals became available, changes were made.Also, given the sheer magnitude of chemical use over the life of the plant, the lack of regard for chemical toxicity on humans and the environment (especially in the early years of plant operation) it stands to reason that there were periodic spills and chemical waste was disposed of in ways deemed inappropriate or illegal today.

Please note: The paved over Area 6 referenced in the SGMP is a prime example of changing environmental perspectives. First, without documentation, we seriously question that only fuel was stored in that area and believe the testing must extend beyond petro chemicals. Second, years ago the paving over of that area was likely considered adequate environmental impact mitigation. Though at the time, it was a step in the right direction in terms of preventing further soil and water contamination, science and experience now tell us we must remove what had penetrated into the soil in order to adequately remediate.

Also, see section 4 below for a partial list of infractions or violations once very limited oversight was initiated 15 years before the plant closure


a) Why were these significant violations ignored when constructing the site history and therefore the parameters of the remediation process? Minimally, these violations are indicators of unsound environmental business practices that should have been noted and evaluated when determining the remediation plan;

b) Minimally why wasn’t information which was readily available at the state and local levels reviewed when determining what testing needed to be done?;

c) Why weren’t the results of the soils testing done during the 2004 fuel spill reviewed and incorporated when determining the remediation plan? Note, CFAR was informed that a dispute emerged between Masonite and the company responsible for the fuel spill. The party responsible for the spill did not want to shoulder the entire burden for the cleanup because test results detected numerous non-petro-related chemicals already existed where the spill occurred. Hence obtaining, evaluating, and integrating those tests results should be a requirement to developing an adequate SGMP;

d) Why wasn’t Masonite contacted and required to provide information from their files about the facility, chemicals, and by-products of the manufacturing process as a pre-requisite for determining the testing being required? See 4 (C) 2 below for additional questions; and

e) Why wasn’t there an open public meeting to gather information from the public about activities at the facility and products used?

2) Review of Other Similar Sites

Chemicals found at other Masonite manufacturing sites indicates the need for more comprehensive testing. Four other Masonite plants were all found to be contaminated with high levels of pentachlorophenol. Following are their locations and websites describing the extent of contamination:

a) Pilot Rock, Oregon

b) Hoopa Indian Reservation in Humboldt County – 2 Masonite Sites

were located at this reservation, both contaminated.

c) Cloverdale, Sonoma County

Besides the pentachlorophenol, elevated levels of dioxin, iron, manganese and arsenic were also found in pond sediment at the Pilot Rock, Oregon site.


i) Though we want to acknowledge that some soil testing for dioxin is now finally being required, why wasn’t this ever done in past years?

ii) Why haven’t there ever been any soil tests at the Ukiah Masonite mill for pentachlorophenol, arsenic, manganese and iron?

iii) Why was soil removed from the settling ponds without testing for the above toxins?

iv) Where was that soil taken and has any been preserved in order to do testing?

3) The magnitude and toxicity of the chemicals used on site and the by-products of the manufacturing processes at the facility require a review of what is being required by NCRWQCB.

Your agency is missing a comprehensive inventory of chemicals stored, used, and created as a part of the manufacturing processes over the 50 years of operation. For example, according to the 1998 Masonite hazardous materials records filed with Mendocino County, manufacturing by-products such as 56000 pounds of PCBs and 8440 pounds of Asbestos waste were stored on site and disposed of. See Appendix 2. What has happened to all the other years of hazardous materials records for the Ukiah Masonite site?

We request confirmation that the types of tests being proposed by SCS are tailored to the Masonite manufacturing process and to be assured these in fact are the correct tests and if correct, are the tests sophisticated enough to determine what exists on the site.  Can they detect chemicals in the number of parts per million, billion or trillion that have historically been determined to be hazardous to human health and the environment, and which were found at the other (listed above) Masonite manufacturing plants?

CFAR found information in public records that indicates more detailed testing is warranted:

a) In February 1990 the CA Dept of Fish and Game (DFG) grabbed samples from an illegal and unreported 13,000 gallon toxic discharge from the Masonite plant. Bioassay results of this material at concentrations greater than 10% were found to kill fish within 24 hours. “In addition, a City of Ukiah employee had observed discharges of colored water from the Masonite Corporation site on several other occasions.” Although the discharge discovered by DFG was found to be fatal to fish life, “the presence of individual hazardous constituents was not determined”. (See DFG Report dated February 4, 1990).

This lack of investigation appears

b) In a letter dated January 25, 1989 Robert Scaglione, Masonite’s then Environmental Manager, wrote to Mendocino Co. Environmental Health stating “the penta stored at the treatment plant was sent to its final destination in July, 1988”.

This communication indicates that pentachlorophenol was onsite prior to 1988 which is consistent with the other 4 Masonite manufacturing plants mentioned above.

This fact brings up several questions:

i) Where was the “treatment plant” located?

ii) Why isn’t the “treatment plant” shown on the SCS maps?

iii) What was treated in the “treatment plant” and what was it treated with?

iv) Since “penta” was in “the treatment” plant until 1988, why hasn’t any soil been tested for penta along with dioxins at the Ukiah Masonite mill?

v) When and where was “penta” initially stored and used at the facility?

Due to the fact that the other 4 known Masonite plants on the West Coast were contaminated with pentachlorophenol it seems obvious that the Ukiah plant should have at least had soil testing for penta and dioxin at some point during its long history, yet this has never happened. Why not?

Obvious places to carry out soil testing would be the former sites of the two teepee burners, drainage ditches, settling ponds, bone yard, treatment plant, and irrigation fields. Some of these areas should be tested for PCBs as well.

4) Past violations of both Federal and State environmental laws at the site and lax Mendocino County oversight reflect poor business practices and demonstrate the need for in depth testing.

A) According to EPA records, the plant did not come to the attention of regulators until the mid 1980s. In 1986, the 1stwere recorded. Discharges into the Russian River apparently ceased at that point. CFAR recalls that along with tracking the chemical plume by one of the contaminated wells on the property, there were other enforcement actions by NCRWQCB, There were also a number of enforcement actions by Fish and Game as well. None of these were recorded in the site history nor was there any indication these past incidents were reviewed and taken into account when SCS Engineers put together the SGMP; inspections by the NCRWQCB

B) Under Hazmat Legislation, since the mid 1980s, Masonite was annually required to supply a list of Hazardous Materials to the County Department of Environment Health (EH). However, note the following:

1) Prior records referencing chemicals used at Masonite are “missing” from EH without explanation. No authorization to destroy County documents was granted to EH.

2) County employee Roger Foote was only able to locate the 1998 Hazardous Materials Report for Masonite (found at the local fire district);

3) Locating and evaluating all of historic Masonite’s state-mandated HazMat records should be required for the site SGMP; and

4) We believe the Masonite Corporation must have records of the chemicals used at the facility. These records should be obtained from the Masonite Corporation and used as a foundation for the site SGMP.

C) Under AB2588 (The Toxic Hot Spots bill), beginning in1989. Masonite was required to performs Health Risk Assessments (HRAs) based on their air emissions

1) The State brought an enforcement action and levied a $250,000.00 fine on Masonite for failure to perform these assessments;

2) The Mendocino County Air Quality Management District (MCAQMD) also levied five figure fines on Masonite for violating this legal requirement; and

3) Emission from the plant likely settled on and around the plant and surrounding acreage. Why weren’t these HRAs reviewed to determine if the surrounding soils needed to be tested for chemicals?

D) The Federal EPA levied a $600,000.00 fine on the local Masonite facility for degradation of the air quality in the Ukiah valley due to excess emissions from the Molded Products Line that began operations in 1992 without adequate controls.

E) The MCAQMD only mandated asbestos monitoring during the demolition of the Masonite plant. They failed to follow their on rules and regulations for making a CEQA determination. MCAQMD did not review the chemicals used at the facility in order to make a determination about monitoring for those chemical residues during the demolition.

In addition, the MCAQMD initially failed to require any monitoring for dust coming from the demolition. They failed to route truck traffic away from the local school. They failed to follow State legal requirement to notify the local school of emissions coming from the demolition. Due to public controversy, MCAQMD finally took limited action in these areas. Note. These are all issued in the afore-mentioned CEQA suit brought by CFAR; and

F) No storm water permit was obtained from Mendocino County. The County claims to have storm water control measures in place. There were record rains in early 2008 and water breached the control measures in place thereby allowing potential contaminants off site into the surround land and the Russian River. See Page 25:

5) Classification of the site

In 1997, four Masonite sites in this vicinity were listed as EPA Super Fund Clean-up sites:

a) The Ukiah plant,

b) Hoopa Valley Reservation (2 Masonite plants at the reservation)

c) The Cloverdale plant

The Ukiah plant is no longer listed as a Super-Fund clean-up site. How were these plants identified as Superfund sites in the first place and why was the Ukiah plant removed from that list without any soil testing for dioxins or pentachlorophenol and without any remediation while the other three plants proved to be contaminated?

6) How the current owner, Diversified Developers Realtors and their Partner describe their intended use of the site project to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC);

In filings with the SEC, DDR describes the Masonite site as under construction. They list a finish date and describe the use.See:

For the quarterly period ended March 31, 2007 (Page

For the quarterly period ended June 30, 2007 (Page 47)

For the quarterly period ended September 30, 2007 (Page 48)

For the quarterly period ended March 31, 2008 (Page 39)

In the area of joint ventures, you will find the Masonite site in question listed as a “Proposed Community Development” in the March 31, 2007 filing. In all subsequent filings beginning with June 30, 2007, you will find the former Masonite site listed as “Community Development Under Construction”.

However, the position taken by DDR with oversight agencies such as the NCRWQCB and with Mendocino County, they describe their actions as remediation of a contaminated area. We believe they are taking this approach to obfuscate their intention and taking a piece meal approach to their declared project in order to avoid comprehensive review.

CFAR is confident that NCRWQCB is aware of the closer scrutiny ‘brownfields’ are subject to:

“Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” (see ):

Thank for considering our comments. We look forward to working with your agency to ensure the public gets the best possible environmental review of all aspects of this project. The public has an interest here. We trust the owners will meet their obligations to remediate this site as called for by law, laws which balance both private and public interests, and accomplish remediation in a fair and expedited manner.


Antonio Andrade

Citizens for Adequate Review

Attachments: 2


I) SCS Engineers out of Santa Rosa was hired to go over the site and come up with a Soils and Groundwater Management Plan.  They made a very convenient judgment call as found on Pages 4 to 5 of the Management Plan presented to the Water Board*;

*The soils in Area 6 will be excavated by or under the control of Masonite to the extent necessary to achieve the remedial goals defined in the RAP after the building demolition in this area is completed. No other areas of soil impacts are known.

Groundwater will likely enter the deeper excavations. The southern portion of the Main Plant Site is also located in an area known to be impacted by HVOCs. It may be anticipated that groundwater impacted by one or more of these constituents may be encountered in the course of the Project. Therefore, appropriate handling of potentially impacted materials (soils and extracted groundwater) is addressed in this S&GWMP.

If soil and/or groundwater extracted during the Project appear to be impacted based on visual or other indications as defined in this document, it is likely that the impacts will be due to one or more of the following chemical constituents known to be present in the subsurface of the Project vicinity:

♦ Gasoline range petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH-g);

♦ Diesel range petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH-d);

♦ Motor oil range petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH-mo);

♦ Total recoverable (heavier range) petroleum hydrocarbons (TRPH);

♦ The aromatic hydrocarbons benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene (BTEX);

♦ Halogenated volatile organic compounds (HVOCs)

II. 1998 HazMat Report for the Masonite Facility

California Hazardous Materials Inventory Form

n Chemical Description

n Chemical Description: Extremely Hazardous Substances

n Hazardous Waste Description


What follows is info sent to me by Sherry Glavich which she identifies as gleening from a Masonite report.  However,  she does not know the relationship of dioxins reported to what currently exists at the site:

Dioxin Distribution Section help link

Dioxin Dist. NA


Dioxin Dist. 1 (1,2,3,4,6,7,8-Heptachlorodibenzofuran)


Dioxin Dist. 2 (1,2,3,4,7,8,9-Heptachlorodibenzofuran)


Dioxin Dist. 3 (1,2,3,4,7,8-Hexachlorodibenzofuran)


Dioxin Dist. 4 (1,2,3,6,7,8-Hextachlorodibenzofuran)


Dioxin Dist. 5 (1,2,3,7,8,9-Hexachlorodibenzofuran)


Dioxin Dist. 6 (2,3,4,6,7,8-Hexachlorodibenzofuran)


Dioxin Dist. 7 (1,2,3,4,7,8-Hexachlorodibenzo- p-dioxin)


Dioxin Dist. 8 (1,2,3,6,7,8-Hexachlorodibenzo- p-dioxin)


Dioxin Dist. 9 (1,2,3,7,8,9-Hexachlorodibenzo- p-dioxin)


Dioxin Dist. 10 (1,2,3,4,6,7,8-Hexachlorodibenzo- p-dioxin)


Dioxin Dist. 11 (1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9-Octachlorodibenzofuran)


Dioxin Dist. 12 (1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9-Octachlorodibenzo- p-dioxin)


Dioxin Dist. 13 (1,2,3,7,8-Pentachlorodibenzofuran)


Dioxin Dist. 14 (2,3,4,7,8-Pentachlorodibenzofuran)


Dioxin Dist. 15 (1,2,3,7,8-Pentachlorodibenzo- p-dioxin)


Dioxin Dist. 16 (2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzofuran)


Dioxin Dist. 17 (2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo- p-dioxin)


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