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EPA@40: Tell Us Your Story

2011 January 21

by Richard Freitas

I’ve worked as a staff scientist at the EPA Region 9 San Francisco office since 1990, and much of my work involves the investigation of groundwater and surface water contamination. The work is often stressful as it regularly involves enforcement of the Superfund hazardous waste laws. Over the years I’ve worked on polluted sites throughout the southwest, helping communities protect their drinking water and clean water supplies from dangerous pollutants and other health threats. Most recently I worked on the Iron Mountain Mine, where our office was overseeing the dredging of contaminated sediments from Spring Creek which flows into the Keswick Reservoir and is the source of drinking water for the City of Redding, a city of around 80,000 people. The dredging of Spring Creek removed contaminated sediments before they could flush into the Reservoir and possibly affect the local drinking water supply.

Though I’ve put in time on a number of projects like Iron Mountain Mine during my 20 years with EPA, one of my best memories is of a project in which I was not involved. One day, on my drive back from a nearby San Francisco Bay wildlife refuge, I saw a sign on the City of Hayward, California wastewater treatment plant which read “Funded by a grant from USEPA.” Hayward is a small, largely lower-income city along the coast of the San Francisco Bay. I grew up in the city and went to college there. When I was a kid, I used to see toilet paper and other debris floating along the bayshore. Thanks to the wastewater plant, raw sewage is no longer discharged to this sensitive wildlife habitat. This may not mean a lot to anyone else, but having grown up Hayward, it meant a great deal to me to see the Agency I’ve worked so hard for all these years do something good for the city.

About the author: Rich Freitas is an Environmental Scientist with the Quality Assurance Office of the Environmental Protection Agency Office in San Francisco. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from the California State University, East Bay with graduate studies in the Dept.of Geological Sciences at the University of Toledo, Ohio.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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8 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    January 21, 2011

    Contamination ? : Forever…!!!

    I am not a doctor
    I am not a professor
    I am not a professional
    I am not a cleric

    But when I was a child
    I saw a new room that the days after

    Our planets, too

    Don’t clean up our immunities
    Don’t clean up our technologies
    Don’t clean up our enemies communities

    We are the humans
    We are the weakness
    We are the patients.

  2. Arlos permalink
    January 21, 2011

    Oh how I would have loved to have gotten ahold of Rich Freitas while I was working on the base closure at Ft Ord in the late 90’s. 1 million gallons of product water slatted to be shipped to Texas for processing that was the water used to rinse lead bullets and fragments. It was in frac tanks on a friday and out to sea via storm drains by monday morning. My going to the Army, going ballistic and asking about this lead to my eventual getting kicked to the curb for disclosing this affair which was never made public but 3 months after this, a massive marine mammal die off took place in the Monterey Bay. Several of the principals responsible are still in place working for another entity at Ft Ord and I have not been allowed to work in this type of work again and by work with water remediation remains in the private sector.

  3. Alicia Luna permalink
    January 21, 2011

    I was very inspirational food your story, I would tell you that my life has been guided by a vision I had from my childhood, a vision of prosperity for workers in the field of my community, since I live in an agricultural area (yuma arizona ) my biggest concern is still have the opportunity to work helping farm workers, and that the information on education and health is of great impact on their lives and the lives of their families;

    I currently volunteer in AmeriCorps which I am proud, I am training in the safe use of pesticides and as a health promoter, my name is Alicia Luna. was a pleasure to read you … Thanks for sharing your story, thanks to GREENCONVERSATIONS that warrior spirit fuels our best times of life …

  4. ARIO permalink
    January 21, 2011


  5. Jackenson Durand permalink
    January 21, 2011

    There was a history about a Mupanah museum from childhood. Soon after a date, it had desapered from children view at school. Deforestation had brought erosion into its feet. Those conservations or natural history had belly burned, burned thoses tires over the Bicentury cost view by the see to discolor our air. Those pollutions had prevented us to welcome our wonderful helps, visitors, foreigners or tourists friends. Why Green left us in this situation with no more science and sanitary at elementary school. Green is back but our environment will never be the same, till we could Green @ 40.

  6. ugnius permalink
    January 22, 2011

    I really enjoyed reading this post, I was just wondering do you trade featured blog posts. Thanks for sharing your Blog with others. You really share valuable information.

  7. bulgarian man permalink
    January 24, 2011

    Several of the principals responsible are still in place working for another entity at Ft Ord and I have not been allowed to work in this type of work again and by work with water remediation remains in the private sector. Thnx for sharing great article i will show article in my site

  8. kmkrealestates permalink
    May 10, 2013

    You really make it seem really easy with your presentation but I in finding this topic to be really one thing that I think I would by no means understand. It kind of feels too complicated and very vast for me. I am having a look ahead to your subsequent post, I will attempt to get the cling of it

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