A longtime voice of opposition against the city said he and others want to make sure the right thing is done in restoration of the Monterey lagoon.
The Monterey Dam Association, a group of people who opposed the removal of the dam and voiced concerns about contamination for years, is reorganizing as the city figures out what to do with the mucky lagoon, said Jeff Navarro, a member of the association.
“The one thing I don’t want is to relitigate if the dam should be in or not,” Navarro said. “That’s over, old news.”
Navarro said he was both surprised and not surprised to learn Drax was no longer working with the city to restore the lagoon after the contractor brought forth concerns about contamination and quality of lagoon soil.
The city and public has known about contamination in the lagoon since 2015 when a report by Inter-Fluve was released.
Navarro said he and others encouraged the city years ago to take additional soil samples in the lagoon to learn more about the contamination. His concerns, he believes, were not taken seriously by the city.
Drax planned to conduct additional soil testing for heavy metals this month, but the city told the company it was not allowed to do so after the contract with the city was terminated, according to documents obtained by The Gazette.
Public Works Director Paul Woodard told The Gazette the level of contaminants is “very low” but that residents should avoid direct contact with the soil.
The 2015 Inter-Fluve report says the lagoon contains the following contaminants at levels that exceed state guidelines: cadmium, lead, mercury, a number of semivolatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Arsenic samples tested higher than the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s industrial regional screening levels, according to the 2015 report.
Some semivolatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons also were found at levels higher than the federal organization’s standards, according to the report.
Woodard in an email to The Gazette on Friday said the city is working with GEI Consultants to analyze slope stability for the peninsula the city still hopes to build in the lagoon. The city met with GEI the first time Sept. 5, the day after the city terminated its contract with Drax.
Drax had raised concern that the “organic muck” in the lagoon would not be suitable for piling into a peninsula.
The city does not plan to do any more soil testing for contamination, Woodard said in the email.
Navarro said he would like to see the lagoon restoration project taken out of the city’s hands and given to an objective third party.
Wilson Elementary School is located just east of the lagoon. Navarro said he is concerned about children playing or walking near where the soil is contaminated.
Andrew Langum, president of Drax, said he would not let his grandchildren near the area because of contamination.