Baykeeper Update

Progress to Curb Pollution from Oakland Auto Shredder

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As a result of Baykeeper’s advocacy, a major shoreline industrial facility has been ordered to better control toxic waste blowing into the Bay. Schnitzer Steel, a metal and vehicle recycler on the Oakland Estuary, has long been one of the Bay’s worst runoff and airborne dust polluters. At our urging, the Regional Water Control Board recently instructed the company to improve its efforts to keep airborne dust containing toxic waste from blowing and washing into San Francisco Bay.

So far, however, the company isn’t complying with these new requirements. Baykeeper is continuing to urge the Board to require Schnitzer to do what’s necessary to stop the pollution.

Schnitzer Steel Oakland processes, shreds, and ships out tens of thousands of tons of scrap metal from automobiles and other sources every year. A recent study of a similar facility found that dust falling onto nearby and downwind areas contained lead, copper, iron, zinc, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic, among many other pollutants. Cleaning up Schnitzer’s pollution is an important step to improving the health of the Oakland Inner Harbor, which is seriously impaired by industrial contamination.

In December, the Regional Board issued a draft cleanup order that required Schnitzer to address airborne metal residue (also called “shredder fluff”) that blows onto nearby properties. Baykeeper urged the Board to emphasize controlling residue that blows into the Bay, and as a result, the Board revised its order, requiring Schnitzer to monitor additional airborne pollutants.

The Regional Board believes that the new cleanup order is strong enough to get Schnitzer’s pollution under control. But the cleanup order relies too much on Schnitzer developing its own studies and plans, which have so far been inadequate. As a result, Baykeeper is continuing to watchdog Schnitzer and to urge the Regional Board to require more effective steps to control the pollution. These steps include a full site assessment for all contaminants the company is allowing to enter the Bay.

Baykeeper will continue to work aggressively to ensure that Schnitzer’s toxic pollution of San Francisco Bay is stopped.

Baykeeper’s advocacy for a clampdown on pollution from Schnitzer Steel is part of our Bay-Safe Industry campaign. The campaign targets widespread, illegal runoff that flows into San Francisco Bay from most of the Bay Area’s 1,300 industrial facilities. In addition to advocacy for better regulatory control of Schnitzer and other facilities found to be significantly polluting the Bay, the campaign includes legal action against major industrial polluters, outreach and education to industrial facilities, and advocacy to strengthen controls on industrial storm water.