441 acres of Hercules California is contaminated with Explosives 41 acres of that area were contaminated with TNT and DNT, the rest with Dynamite and Black Powder. The site blew up in 1929 but was rebuilt and continued operations to 1960. The plant was the largest manufacturer of high explosives for World War I used by the Allies in the war. It was the largest source in the world at the time and it was used in World War II.
Munitions plants built bunkers underground to store their production and if there was an explosion the direction of the force would be up instead of spreading across the ground as it did in the Berkeley Explosion which wiped out the glass of San Francisco 8 miles away. But when the EPA came along and cleaned up the site, they only excavated 24 inches down and deemed the site safe enough to build housing on the site which is what we have today. What if this site had the bunkers? Has anyone checked to see if the contamination goes further into the soil?
“A witness near the California Powder Works reported seeing a huge column of white smoke shoot hundreds of feet into the sky seconds before he was knocked down and rendered senseless for several minutes.”
The disaster in Beirut was only a few days ago.
1869 Alfred Noble patented his invention Dynamite which is a safe method of using Nitroglycerin which had an unfortunate tendency to explode when subjected to a large shock. Dynamite made it relatively safe. The California Powerworks had the patent and started manufacturing Dynamite in Santa Cruz and in San Francisco on or near what became Golden Gate Park. There was another plant called the Hercules plant (Hercules in Greek Lore killed Giants) and so they operated facilities near each other which had a tendency to explode.
Explosions were common in munitions plants and after the second blast in San Francisco on or near Golden Gate Park that blew out the glass from downtown San Francisco to Cliff House, the city fathers decided that instead of replacing the glass in the buildings of San Francisco every time one of these things lit up, they would send the plants to Berkeley across the Bay to what is now Albany California at the Polo Grounds. The plant blew up three times and rebuilt each time until the big blast.
The following is the official record of the incident. Holden, Edward S. “Powder Explosion at West Berkeley, July 9, 1892.” Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 4, no. 25 (1892): 187-90. Accessed August 8, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40667068.
“”The Giant Powder Works plant, near West Berkeley, a suburban place on the northeastern coast of the bay, about eight miles from San Francisco, was blown up at nine o’clock A. M. on the ninth of July, and it is believed to be the most extensive explosion of the kind that has ever happened. Being situated on a spit of land projecting out into the bay there was a free course for air disturbance to the city, and other surroundings on the southern and western side of the bay, and windows were crushed for a distance of ten miles where no elevated land intervened. The air disturbance followed channels where the physical formation permitted horizontal flow, and even streets in the city seemed to have guided the lines of greatest effect. Continue reading “The Berkeley Blast – 500 tons of Dynamite that blasted out the glass of San Francisco 8 miles away”→