Baykeeper Update

Baykeeper Suit Targets Pollution from Richmond Shipping Terminal

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San Francisco Baykeeper recently filed suit in federal district court to compel cleanup at one of the Bay’s worst industrial polluters, a shipping terminal in Richmond. We took this action because the Levin-Richmond Terminal Corporation is allowing harmful materials stored onsite to be washed and blown into the Bay.

The facility, owned and operated by Levin Enterprises, sits on the Lauritzen Canal and Santa Fe Channel, which lead directly to San Francisco Bay. Within the last five years, Levin’s own monitoring data reveal over one hundred violations of federal and state water quality standards for iron, copper, aluminum, zinc, oil, grease and other toxic pollutants.

The terminal, called a marine bulk terminal, is a way station for hundreds of thousands of tons of materials in transit to or from ships calling at Richmond’s harbor. Levin stores materials that include petroleum coke, metallurgical coke, sand, cottonseed and bauxite, often in huge piles exposed to the elements. Storm water runoff and high winds carry these materials into the Bay’s nearby waters. Petroleum coke is of particular concern because it contains highly toxic pollutants like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can cause cancer and birth defects.

The Levin terminal is located on the former United Heckathorn property, which has been declared a Superfund site because of the large quantities of DDT dumped there in the past. The storm water discharge permit issued to Levin by the State Water Resources Control Board requires the company to identify potential sources of pollutants. However, Levin’s storm water pollution prevention plans have failed to mention DDT.

Baykeeper’s suit aims to compel Levin to adopt best management practices to control its contamination of the Bay. Forcing cleanup at Levin will yield benefits to both local residents and the environment.

This lawsuit is part of Baykeeper’s Bay-Safe Industry campaign, a multi-year effort to rein in widespread, illegal runoff into San Francisco Bay from most of the Bay Area’s 1,300 industrial facilities. The campaign includes legal action against facilities found to be significantly polluting the Bay, outreach and education to industrial polluters and advocacy to strengthen controls on industrial storm water.