Hazardous waste washed into Lake Wingra

Misdeeds are sometimes revealed when bodies float to the surface...  as happened recently at Lake Wingra.

On January 2, 2011, I found this bucket frozen in Lake Wingra.  Google research revealed the bucket had contained pipe joint mastic, a tarry compound used to seal box culverts--large pipes that carry stormwater.

Two days later, I found a second 5-gallon can nearby--
and this one was almost full.

Evidently, the two cans were left from construction of the Pickford Street stormwater project of 2009. You can see where the culvert empties into the lake in the photo above.

But why were the cans now revealed, over a year after the project was finished? Joints between the segments of the box culvert had been sealed inside the culvert. Probably the cans were left inside. Later, when there was enough flow in the culvert, the cans washed out. If true, this means the inside of the culvert wasn't carefully inspected by the City when the work was finished.

The joint sealer in the cans is listed by the Feds as an "acute health hazard" and a "chronic health hazard." California considers it to cause cancer. The EPA says this material is "subject to hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal requirements." Source

Who is responsible
  • Speedway Sand and Gravel was the contractor.  In 2010, their sloppy work on Edgewood Ave resulted in numerous spills of sediment into Lake Wingra.  Later, their work on Segoe Ave involved dumping of concrete wastewater, and stormwater inlet protection that failed during a heavy rain. 
  • Stewart Mael was the City inspector for this project.
  • The City Council and the Mayor need to devote more resources to inspection.  Ordinances and rules don't work without inspection.
More photos from this project.

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