Deceased whale’s odor impacts Richmond residents

Deceased whale disrupts Richmond residents with foul odor
Deceased whale on the shoreline (Photos by Kathy Chouteau)

By Kathy Chouteau

A deceased whale that washed up on Richmond’s shoreline last week is causing residents of the nearby Waterline housing development distress due to its pervasive stench, according to City Manager Shasa Curl during the Tues., June 7 City Council meeting.

Curl indicated during the meeting that “a number of councilmembers and community members have been contacting the City Manager’s office” with their concerns regarding the decomposing whale’s foul odor. She added that Economic Development Project Managers Gabino Arredondo and Craig Murray are the City staff leads working with Executive Assistant to the City Manager Irene Lozano on responding to community concerns.

According to Curl, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the agency responsible for “keeping the large bodies of water free of large debris” and has committed to providing a letter to the Richmond City Council by the end of this week “that will discuss a timeline of events, as well as recommended actions that they are considering” for handling the whale. The agency indicated that efforts may include partnering with other agencies on the issue. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not yet responded to a request from the Standard for comment on the matter. According to Curl, the agency relayed it has been in contact with community members impacted by the deceased whale; she said staff from both the City and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier’s office have also been in touch with residents. The congressman’s office has been in contact with the agency as well, said Curl.

Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, who also exchanged messages with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said during Tuesday’s meeting that community members on Richmond’s section of the Bay Trail have been impacted as well by the decomposing whale.

During their exchanged messages, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers communicated to Councilmember McLaughlin that one suggestion put forth—burying the whale—was not a viable option. The councilmember also suggested the agency “put some folks up in a motel if it’s going to take too long,” and said the contact indicated another person would handle that request—an option she is following up on.

 “City staff will continue to field questions from the community regarding this whale and have been providing them with the most current information available,” said Curl, who added that her office will “continue to keep the City Council updated as the situation unfolds.”

“On behalf of the City of Richmond, I would like to apologize to the residents that have been inconvenienced by the circumstances,” said Curl, noting that she appreciates the federal agencies that are working collaboratively with the City to address the matter.