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Baykeeper's Legal Action to Clean Up Industrial Runoff Pollution
When Congress passed the Clean Water Act, they included a citizen suit provision that allows citizens and citizen groups like Baykeeper to bring a lawsuit against a polluter in order to enforce the law when state and federal regulators do not. Congress specifically provided this tool so that citizens and citizen groups—not just regulators—would have the power to ensure that polluters follow the law.
With California's enforcement agencies drastically underfunded, Baykeeper plays a critical role in enforcing the Clean Water Act to control industrial storm water pollution. Baykeeper has a long history of successful Clean Water Act litigation to reduce industrial storm water pollution in San Francisco Bay. Our staff has the legal and scientific expertise to research and identify which facilities need to be cleaned up, recommend appropriate improvements and secure legally-binding agreements to effectively reduce toxic pollution.
Below are successful settlements reached in Baykeeper’s Bay-Safe Industry Campaign:
Construction Debris Recycler to Keep Polluted Runoff Out of Bay
Instead of running off into San Francisco Bay, contaminated storm water from Premier Recycle in San Jose will be pumped to storage containers and reused onsite, as a result of Baykeeper's Clean Water Act lawsuit against Premier Recycle.
For five years, Premier Recycle had consistently polluted the Bay with heavy metals and other contaminants. The facility processes construction and demolition waste and debris. Piles of debris are stored outdoors and exposed to rain, which collects contaminants that include metals, oils, and grease. The polluted water ran off the site into storm drains along the street, and from there, it flowed to San Francisco Bay with no filtering or treatment. Baykeeper’s November 2013 legal settlement requires Premier Recycle to close off all storm drains to prevent polluted storm water from leaving the site and entering the Bay. Read more about Baykeeper's successful settlement with Premier Recycle.
Union City Pipe Factory Agrees to Protect Bay from Toxic Runoff
In response to Baykeeper’s lawsuit, U.S. Pipe and Foundry agreed in October 2013 to stop polluted storm water from leaving its Union City pipe manufacturing facility. Runoff containing heavy metals and other toxic substances has been flowing off the U.S. Pipe and Foundry site into Ward Creek, a tributary of Alameda Creek, which empties into San Francisco Bay.
U.S. Pipe and Foundry will build a large retention pond to collect storm water from the facility, which will then be used onsite or allowed to evaporate. Baykeeper will inspect the pond once it is installed, to ensure that it is adequate to protect the Bay from pollution. The company will also provide $45,000 to fund projects by local nonprofit environmental organizations that benefit the San Francisco Bay watershed. Read more about Baykeeper's successful legal settlement with U.S. Pipe and Foundry.
Sunnyvale Waste Facility Agrees to Keep Polluted Runoff Out of the Bay
In October 2013, the city of Sunnyvale agreed to install controls to protect San Francisco Bay from polluted runoff from its waste transfer facility, which handles 1,500 tons per day of trash and recyclables from Sunnyvale, Mountain View, and Palo Alto. Sunnyvale will also protect the Bay from polluted runoff from an adjacent concrete recycling plant. Toxic runoff from these facilities drains into nearby Bay wetlands and Guadalupe Slough.
Runoff from the facilitiies was found to contain heavy metals, and also may contain dust, trash, vehicle fluids such as oil and antifreeze, hazardous wastes, phosphates from truck washing, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals. Now, the facility is required to implement controls that include placing barriers around storm drains to slow the flow of runoff and covering all materials stored outdoors to keep toxic substances from coming in contact with rainwater. Read more about Baykeeper's successful legal settlement with the city of Sunnyvale.
Santa Clara Steel Fabricator Will Curb Pollution of Bay
As a result of Baykeeper’s lawsuit, SOS Steel Company, Inc. agreed in September 2013 to clean up its pollution of San Francisco Bay. Baykeeper sued the Santa Clara steel fabricator after finding that rainy-season runoff from the site was contaminated with toxic metals and chemicals.
Runoff from the facility flows into storm drains that empty into the Guadalupe River, which then flows to San Francisco Bay. Baykeeper’s legally-binding settlement agreement requires SOS to install pollution controls we recommended specifically for this facility, including filters on its storm drains. Read more about Baykeeper's successful settlement with SOS Steel Company, Inc.
GreenWaste in San Jose Agrees to Clean Up Its Bay Pollution
Steelhead trout and Chinook salmon will have a better chance of survival in San Jose’s Coyote Creek and in San Francisco Bay, thanks to Baykeeper’s successful legal action against GreenWaste Recovery, Inc.
GreenWaste, a San Jose recycling facility, has polluted Coyote Creek, which flows to the Bay, with contaminants that include heavy metals that are toxic to fish. In July 2013, GreenWaste signed a legally-binding agreement with Baykeeper requiring the company to stop the pollution. Read more about Baykeeper's successful settlement with GreenWaste Recovery, Inc.
San Jose Recycler to Keep Its Polluted Runoff Out of the Bay
GreenTeam of San Jose agreed in June 2013 to install controls to prevent the recycling facility’s toxic runoff pollution of San Francisco Bay. Baykeeper sued the company after documenting that GreenTeam has polluted the Bay with oil, grease, and heavy metals that include aluminum, copper, iron, zinc, and lead.
The company collects and processes paper, plastic, glass, and other materials from San Jose and surrounding communities. The materials are sorted at the GreenTeam San Jose facility using conveyor belts, screens, electromagnets, and blasts of air. Because materials are stored and moved around outdoors, they are exposed to rainfall that can run off the site after picking up harmful pollutants. Storm water from the facility flows into two storm drains that discharge to the Guadalupe River, which then flows to San Francisco Bay. Read more about Baykeeper's settlement to keep pollution from GreenTeam out of the Bay.
Berkeley Steel Foundry to Stop Polluting the Bay
Toxic brownish water will no longer gush toward San Francisco Bay from Pacific Steel Casting Company in Berkeley, as a result of Baykeeper’s successful Clean Water Act lawsuit against the facility.
Pacific Steel, the fourth largest steel foundry in the U.S., agreed in June 2013 to stop its rainy-season runoff pollution of the Bay. To repair the damage done by its past pollution, the company is also providing funds for Bay Area environmental restoration projects. Read more about Baykeeper's settlement to stop pollution from Pacific Steel.
Major Electronics Recycler Agrees to Clean Up Its Pollution
Xstrata Recycling in San Jose, one of the largest processors of precious-metal-bearing electronic scrap in the western US, agreed in January 2013 to stop its runoff pollution of San Francisco Bay. The company agreed to install new pollution controls after Baykeeper notified them in 2012 that they were polluting the Bay with heavy metals.
Xstrata processes electronic equipment, such as cell phones and circuit boards, to recover copper and precious metals for re-use. Storm water that flows from Xstrata carries toxic pollution to nearby storm drains that lead to San Francisco Bay. The firm’s management was very cooperative and agreed to learn more about how to clean up the contamination. As a result, Baykeeper was able to reach a legally-binding agreement for pollution control with the company without filing a lawsuit under the Clean Water Act. Read more about Baykeeper’s successful agreement with Xstrata.
Partnering With e-Recycling of California to Cut Pollution to the Bay
e-Recycling of California, a Hayward recycler of TVs, computers, and other electronics, volunteered in January 2013 to test its storm water runoff to see if it is polluting San Francisco Bay. e-Recycling will also reduce any pollution found.
The company responded to Baykeeper’s suggestions for pollution controls by proposing a new effort to improve their environmental stewardship, even though most of the contamination entering the Bay from e-Recycling’s site was from a recently-closed facility next door. Read more about Baykeeper’s agreement for control of any pollution found at e-Recycling.
Oakland Metal Recycler to Clean Up Its Bay Pollution
Lakeside Nonferrous Metals, an Oakland metal recycling company, agreed in September 2012 to move one of its outdoor facilities indoors and take other measures to prevent rainy-season pollution of San Francisco Bay. Baykeeper sued Lakeside after documenting that the recycler’s storm water runoff has violated Environmental Protection Agency limits on lead, aluminum, and other toxic pollutants.
In addition to moving one facility indoors, the company agreed to install at its second facility either an advanced storm water treatment system or complete overhead coverage to prevent storm water contamination. Lakeside is also contributing funds for Bay Area environmental restoration projects by other nonprofits. Read more about Baykeeper’s successful settlement with Lakeside.
Berkeley Forge & Tool Agrees to Reduce Pollution of the Bay
In August 2012, Berkeley Forge & Tool, Inc., a manufacturer of machine parts for heavy mining equipment, agreed to reduce its rainy-season pollution of San Francisco Bay. The agreement came after Baykeeper notified Berkeley Forge that its storm water runoff, which flows into storm drains that lead directly to the Bay, contained high levels of aluminum, copper, iron, zinc, and other pollutants.
Berkeley Forge agreed to make several upgrades to reduce pollution, including installation of carbon filters in downspouts that drain water from the buildings’ rooftops. The company is also providing funds for local nonprofits working to restore the San Francisco Bay Watershed. Read more about Baykeeper’s successful settlement with Berkeley Forge.
San Jose Landfill/Recycler to Clean Up Toxic Bay Pollution
In August 2012, Zanker Road Resource Management, a San Jose landfill and recycling facility, agreed to clean up its rainy-season runoff pollution of San Francisco Bay and wetlands that include the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge.
Baykeeper sued Zanker after the facility’s own sampling reports showed it had been violating EPA limits for aluminum, copper, iron, zinc and other pollutants in its storm water runoff. Our settlement agreement with Zanker commits the company to significantly reduce its pollution and also to provide funds to two local nonprofits working to protect wetlands. Read more about Baykeeper's successful settlement to reduce pollution from Zanker.
BAE Shipyard Agrees to Clean Up Toxic Bay Pollution
BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair, Inc., a ship yard servicing large vessels that include cruise liners and oil tankers, agreed in February 2012 to make significant improvements to its operations and on-site controls to curb its pollution of San Francisco Bay. Baykeeper filed suit against BAE after documenting 113 samples of rainy-season runoff contaminated with extremely high levels of copper, nickel, lead, zinc and other toxic substances.
BAE will use shrouding to keep dust and particles from escaping its dry dock—the largest on the West Coast—and also close nearly 100 unnecessary storm drains that discharge directly to the Bay. Remaining storm drains will be fitted with filtration systems. Read more about Baykeeper's successful settlement to reduce Bay pollution from BAE Systems.
California Waste Solutions to Reduce Bay Pollution
In February 2012, Baykeeper and California Waste Solutions, Inc. (CWS) reached an agreement to reduce storm water pollution from the company’s San Jose recycling facility. CWS collects, sorts and ships out curbside recycling materials to be processed and reused. The facility is located a block from Coyote Creek, which drains to San Francisco Bay.
At right: CWS's property before Baykeeper's legal action to clean up the facility.
Storm water from CWS contained heavy metals such as aluminum, copper, iron, lead and zinc. After being contacted by Baykeeper about the toxic runoff, CWS worked collaboratively with us to determine the best upgrades to reduce pollution. These include adding filtration devices around storm drains, keeping storm drains free of debris and mechanically sweeping paved areas. Read more about Baykeeper's successful settlement to reduce pollution from California Waste Solutions.
Svendsen’s Boat Works to Reduce Bay Pollution
Baykeeper and Svendsen’s Boat Works reached an agreement in April 2012 to reduce storm water pollution of San Francisco Bay from this important Alameda boat repair and maintenance facility. Baykeeper found levels of copper and zinc high enough to be toxic to salmon and other fish at Svendsen’s, which is located on the Oakland Estuary. The toxic runoff was mostly due to heavy metal flakes and dust released when boat hull paint was sanded off during preparation for repainting. When rain fell, these contaminants were washed into the Bay.
Svendsen’s agreed to significant changes in their operations and better housekeeping to capture contaminants on site and keep them out of the Bay. If the pollution still persists, Svendsen’s will implement additional controls. In addition, Svendsen’s has switched from wet sanding to dry sanding for boat paint removal, to reduce the amount of paint that will come into contact with storm water. Read more about Baykeeper's successful settlement to reduce toxic runoff from Svendsen's.
The Boatyard at Grand Marina Agrees to Curb Pollution
In April 2012, Baykeeper and The Boatyard at Grand Marina reached a settlement agreement to reduce the Alameda boat repair facility’s storm water pollution of San Francisco Bay. Grand Marina’s storm water runoff contained high levels of copper, lead and zinc. These heavy metals are common pollutants from boatyards and are toxic to fish.
Grand Marina’s new pollution controls will include berms (barriers that channel water), settling tanks and a treatment system to remove pollutants before storm water is discharged into the Oakland Estuary. Read more about Baykeeper's successful settlement to control runoff pollution from Grand Marina.