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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:
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 illegal 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 levels of aluminum, copper, iron, zinc, and other pollutants in excess of legal limits.
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 exceeding legal limits for copper, nickel, lead, zinc and other toxic substances, many by hundreds of times.
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 above legal limits. 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.