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Community Update #7

Dear Point Richmond residents,

A lot of activity has been happening at the plant and we've kept you aware of that through reports at the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council meetings, at the City Council meetings and through email distributions. We wanted to provide additional information in a few key areas and as always, your feedback is welcome and helps us to make the plant a better neighbor to the community.

Lime Stabilization Restart Process

After a great deal of time and effort to get proper processes and tools in place to safely treat the collected waste sludge with lime and transport it to West County (WC) for disposal, Veolia applied for and received a permit on April 26th from BAAQMD to perform this method of sludge disposal in the absence of digestion.Once the permit was received, Veolia sent a letter to the City regarding the scheduled start-up of the lime stabilization process, with the first load of treated sludge scheduled to be transported through a shared pipeline to WC on Monday, May 9th.

In preparation for that transportation, routine testing by Veolia showed that the pH levels were not able to be maintained, so Veolia contacted West County to let them know that the treated sludge did not meet the standards required to transport it, and therefore the transportation was cancelled for that day until the proper pH levels could be stabilized.

On Tuesday, May 10th, West County Land Fill (WCLF) asked Veolia to turn the transportation line over to them for their waste-handling purposes, so the line was unavailable for Veolia to transport lime-treated sludge until Wednesday, May 11th.

On Wednesday, May 11th, Veolia attempted to send the lime-treated sludge through the line to WC but a valve that is controlled through an electronic signal sent from WCLF was not opening because it was not receiving the signal.This problem delayed the transportation of sludge to WC until the following day, Thursday, May 12th.

Veolia was able to successfully transport lime-treated sludge to WC on Thursday, May 12th and on Saturday, May 14th.

However, on Monday morning, May 16th, WCLF personnel contacted Veolia and asked to use the transportation line in the morning to send leachate (drainage from the bottom of the land fill) to the plant over the course of the next 4 hours, including time to flush the line.Flushing is used to clean the line.Unfortunately, unbeknownst to Veolia, WCLF did not flush the line so approximately 6,000 gallons of leachate were sent directly to WC, followed by our lime stabilized sludge. It is important to note that when leachate mixes with lime, ammonia is released and can cause strong odors.

That same morning, Monday, May 16th, WC notified Veolia that there were significant odors at the drying lagoons.Veolia investigated but could not confirm the presence of significant odors.

On Tuesday, May 17th, Veolia received a call from BAAQMD stating that there were odors at WC.Veolia investigated and confirmed odors at the drying lagoons.

To address the odor problems, Veolia spent May 19th and May 20th vactoring out the floating material within WC's drying lagoon and applied lime to the area.A revised lime stabilized sludge contingency plan was submitted to Chad Davisson and E.J. Shalaby (West County Agency) on Monday, May 23rd.
We welcome the addition of an independent third party to evaluate the lime stabilization process to get to a workable solution to handling the City's waste.

Odor Complaints

BAAQMD received three confirmed residential odor complaints on Tuesday, May 17th and Veolia, as well as BioMax, investigated these.Representatives from both organizations confirmed the presence of odors but testing indicated that meter readings were within permitted parameters for measurable H2S, and no further action was taken.

On Saturday, May 20th , Veolia was notified that the City received one odor complaint from a resident. The complaint was investigated by Veolia that day however the presence of odors could not be confirmed.Also on Saturday, May 20th , BAAQMD informed Veolia that they received two complaints.In this case, Veolia is only notified of the complaint but not the specifics.
The only other odor complaint received was on Monday, May 23rd. It came into Veolia from a Point Richmond business, citing odors coming from the heating and air vents.There was no sewer smell and the odors were believed to be from a source other than the treatment plant or sewer system.

Veolia Availability 24/7

Veolia employs a call center response team for management of after-hour calls.These calls are answered from the time the plant closes at 4:30 p.m. until it reopens at 7 a.m.Calls received during this period are answered by an operator and immediately routed to Veolia's designated on-call personnel.

Veolia was notified as recently as Saturday, May 21st that some calls were not getting through after hours (getting a busy signal or continuous ringing). By working with AT&T, we were able to trace and identify a 2-block radius in downtown Richmond (which included all of City Hall) and part of the Point Richmond area where service was inexplicably not going through.

The lines were repaired and tested on Monday, May 23rd, and we confirmed with Chad Davisson that he was now able to get through on Veolia's 24-hour line.Additional investigation occurred May 24th and 25th to confirm the issue had been taken care of. AT&T has corrected a routing switch in a Central Office to fix the problem and they have assured Veolia that it will no longer have issues in the future.

Veolia’s commitment to public health and the environment

Veolia has stated that its number one objective in doing its job as operators of Richmond's wastewater treatment facility and the city's sewage collection service is to protect the health and safety of the residents here.That has never changed and every action we take is with that in mind.

You have entrusted us to provide these critical city services and we are doing everything we can to do so in the manner that is expected of us according to the contract and regulatory requirements, and to the standards we hold ourselves to every day, and with the tools and operations that are available and appropriate.We not only work in this community, but we live here as well, and our workers and administrative staff are doing everything they can to address concerns, fix problems and ensure that they are here for the people they serve.

We have made every effort to remain in close communications with the City of Richmond and its residents, and we have followed every protocol to keep the proper authorities informed and engaged with us every step of the way as we address problems that come up as a result of an aging facility.These are some of the hallmarks of an effective public-private partnership that includes concerned residents engaged and working together with us in developing solutions that better serve the City of Richmond.

If you have any additional concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Aaron Winer at the treatment plant. He can be reached at (510) 412-2001, or by e-mail at

Please note that actual odor complaints are best directed to the odor complaint hotline at (510) 412-2001 or to the City Fire Department so that they can be properly and most efficiently logged and investigated.

James L. Good
Executive Vice President
Veolia Water West