FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Coalition to Protect Golden Gate Park
Mike Murphy 415.823.9743
Members of the Coalition to Protect Golden Gate Park to sue Rec & Park and Private Partner over Fake City Fields.
SAN FRANCISCO–At a public press conference at Market and Powell this Wednesday morning, members of the Coalition to Protect Golden Gate Park announced their intention to sue SF Rec and Park and the City Fields Foundation for alleged violations of the City’s Public Works Code.
Judge Quentin Kopp, attorney for the plaintiff, a member organization, explained the action to television, radio, and print journalists. “The San Francisco Watershed Protection Alliance is a California non-profit association. And that’s what it’s about, protecting our watershed. These fields are full of toxins and they’re released into our watershed. The City failed to pull the necessary permits and test wastewater from the fields. Article 4 of the Public Works Code requires that.”
Mike Murphy, Director of the San Francisco Watershed Protection Alliance stated the need for the Citizen Enforcement Action. He stated that there are 7 fields listed in the complaint. None were permitted and none routinely tested. “There are over 200 known chemicals in tire derived products. After the NBC news story about a cancer cluster among goalies in Washington State, numerous artificial turf and waste tire infill constructions have been cancelled. Members of Congress are calling for a thoroughgoing study by the CDC and the EPA. The artificial turf fields with waste tire infill in San Francisco are in various stages of their lifecycle. Several are up for replacement. A couple of others will be up after that. “There is a body of evidence in the wastewater and in the transfer boxes that mechanically separate out some toxins from the mix. The PUC has a state-of-the-art lab. We should use it,” Murphy said. “There is no smoking gun, yet. Adding to the knowledge of what’s in these fields and how they degrade would be a public benefit.”
All of Rec and Park and the City Fields Foundation’s artificial turf fields have a liner. They produce tens of millions of gallons of toxic runoff sent to the combined sewer system. Article 4.1 of the Public Works Code requires that “the discharge of wastewater into the sewerage system through means other than an approved side sewer is prohibited, unless authorized by a permit”. Requests for immediate disclosure produced no information on permits. The SF Watershed Protection Alliance alleges that “by avoiding the permit process” SFRPD and City Fields “have been able to circumvent the environmental regulations which protect the watershed from serious and debilitating pollutants…by avoiding the mandatory testing involved in the obtaining and maintaining a permit to discharge”.
There are additional concerns with the proposed construction at the Beach Chalet Fields, adjacent to wells to be used for the City’s drinking water as part of the Groundwater Supply Project. The State of California has just passed legislation to provide for sustainable groundwater plans on the regional level. The City’s artificial turf fields waste every drop of stormwater deposits from the sky to the combined sewer system. Sometimes that system overflows onto our beaches and into the bay. Overflows are of special concern given the EPA’s recent historic settlement including court ordered repairs estimated at $1.5 billion and civil penalties of $1.5 million with East Bay communities.
“This is a Citizen Enforcement Action”, Murphy said. “We want the City to do the right things for our environment and our young people. If the suit is successful, the court could award reasonable fees. If that happens, I’ll donate the money to youth sports and cancer research. It’s not about the money for me. If this action spares one family the pain and suffering of a young person’s sickness due to playing on these toxic fields, that’s reward enough”.