A large swath of toxic waste located just upshore from Crockett in the East Bay is impacting the bay water and the ground water and poses a danger to people in the area, according to state officials.
Last week, residents learned the state Department of Toxic Subtances Control is developing a long-term fix to make the site safe, re-igniting forgotten concerns decades after the plant that produced the toxic substance closed down.
"I grew up here, and I wouldn't want to go anywhere else," said Joe Palotta, a Crockett resident. "This would be the spot for me. I like it here."
More than 2 million cubic yards of toxic waste are buried beneath pavement along the San Pablo Bay, just west of the Carquinez Bridge. Residents are concerned about the potentially harmful pollutants seeping into the bay and the ground.
The site used to be home to a smelting facility, a plant that extracted precious metals from minerals or rock. After nearly a century of operations, the company abruptly shut down in 1971, and demolished the plant, leaving piles of waste behind.
Many residents believe it was a case of out of sight, out of mind, and that is bothersome. Some people in town have family members who worked at the smelting plant. Palotta said he used to play in the piles of "slag" as a boy.
"We just played in it as kids, little kids climbing up and down it," he said. "We'd hide in it and throw it at each other."
Palotta showed pieces of slag that still wash downshore. He hopes the toxic risk is taken care of once and for all.
"I'd really like to see it stay clean and stay good and stay here and not be contaminated and ruined," Palotta said.
A community meeting about the toxic site is scheduled for Wednesday in Crockett.
Experts said it could take a couple of years before the cleanup gets started in earnest.