SOIL SAMPLING INVESTIGATION AND HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENT
Heron’s Head Park, San Francisco, California February 2004
INTRODUCTION educational and summer programs in cooperation with
This fact sheet was prepared to provide the community local schools and community organizations.
with a summary of the findings and results of the soil
investigation conducted at Heron’s Head Park in San SITE INVESTIGATION SCOPE & RESULTS
Francisco, California. The soil sampling was conducted Past environmental investigations revealed that chemicals
to evaluate the nature and extent of any hazardous were present in soil and fill used to construct the site in
substances that might be present in soil that could pose a the early 1970s. However, these data were collected prior
risk to public health or the environment. This fact sheet to wetland and park construction in 1998, and may not
presents a brief site description and history and represent current conditions. A focused soil investigation
summarizes the investigation activities, results, and targeting chemicals previously found in soil at the park
conclusions. The complete soil investigation report is was conducted in July 2003 to assess current conditions,
available for public review from the Port of San Francisco and to evaluate whether exposure to soil would pose an
(Port) Environmental, Health, and Safety Department. unacceptable health risk to current and future park users
participating in educational programs or casual recreation.
Soil samples were collected from 13 locations across the
park to allow the broadest coverage over the publicly
accessible area. Soil samples were analyzed for metals,
volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and polyaromatic
hydrocarbons (PAHs). VOCs were not detected above
the laboratory detection limits. Select metals and PAHs
were detected in shallow soil. However, the range of
metal concentrations detected at the Site was similar to
concentrations found in naturally-occurring soil and the
concentrations of PAHs were generally low.
SITE DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY
Heron’s Head Park is approximately 22 acres, located on HUMAN HEALTH RISK ASSESSMENT
the north side of India Basin. It is owned by the Port and Using guidelines established by the U.S. Environmental
was created through the placement of fill material in the Protection Agency (EPA) and California EPA, a human
early 1970s for the construction of a marine shipping health risk assessment was conducted to evaluate if the
terminal. Fill is present to approximately 15 feet below concentrations of chemicals found in pose a potential
ground surface and consists of varying mixtures of gravel, health risk to park visitors. The types of park users
sand, silt, clay, and debris material, such as wood, plastic, evaluated included adolescent students, ages of 7 through
concrete, brick, and garbage. In 1977, the placement of 17, school teachers, and occasional adult recreational
fill was stopped. Subsequently, salt marsh developed users, (e.g., fishermen, bird-watchers and joggers).
naturally along three acres of the southern shoreline. In Potential exposure pathways considered included
1998, the Port created new salt marsh, and constructed incidental ingestion of soil, dermal contact with soil, and
Heron’s Head Park. The work included covering the inhalation of chemicals adhered to dust particulates in air.
western portion of the park with a geosynthetic clay liner Based on reasonable estimates for exposure frequency
and 1.5 to 3 feet of soil to minimize infiltration of and duration recommended by Cal-EPA, chemical
rainwater through the underlying fill. In addition, the concentrations measured in soil are below the U.S. EPA
Port, with assistance from Literacy for Environmental and Cal-EPA threshold levels of concern, and below the
Justice (LEJ) and other local community groups and levels that could be expected to cause health problems.
organizations, i) enhanced and increased the total acreage Thus, potential exposures to chemicals found in soil do
of the tidal salt marsh by another five acres; ii) cleared, not pose excess risk to human health.
graded, and revegetated the northwestern and upland
portion of the Site; and iii) improved public access by FOR MORE INFORMATION
constructing trails, viewing, and resting areas. The site If you have questions regarding the soil sampling
was renamed Heron’s Head Park, and is now home to investigation and health risk assessment results, please
acres of tidal salt marsh housing shorebirds and other contact: Ms. Carol Bach, Port of San Francisco,
wildlife. The park is used year-round for open space and 415.274.0586 or email@example.com