$10 million cleanup of former US Navy fuel depot at Point Molate underway


Dubbed the “Big Dig,” the City of Richmond held a groundbreaking ceremony last week for the $10 million cleanup of a scenic 11-acre site at Point Molate that was formerly a US Navy fuel depot.

The remediation and abatement project at Point Molate, a scenic waterfront area north of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, will target sites formerly occupied by oily-waste and storm water treatment facilities.

The federal government is paying for the $10 million cleanup, which includes removing up to 150,000 cubic yards of soil, said Craig Murray, Point Molate project manager. As many as 55 truckloads of clean soil will be imported each day during the “Big Dig.”

The project is scheduled for 180 days of work and is estimated to be completed early next year, Murray said.

Following cleanup the site will be set aside for community use. Potential uses for the land include expanding open space and recreational areas or attracting job and business opportunities.

Aside from the US Navy’s operations, the land is rich in history. A historical building there was the location of The Winehaven Hotel, which accommodated tourists at a time when the largest winery in the state operated at the site. The winery, which began operating in 1907, was forced to close in 1919 due to alcohol prohibition. The property was then sold to Santa Cruz Oil and later purchased by the Navy.

The Navy fuel depot was closed in 1998. In 2003, the US Navy transferred about 372 acres of the land to the City of Richmond. The remaining 40 acres, including the 11-acre site that is currently undergoing remediation, was handed over to the city in 2010.