Baykeeper Update

San Jose Debris Removal Facility Agrees to Keep Contaminated Runoff out of the Bay

Eco Box Recycling, a debris removal and recycling facility in San Jose, recently agreed to keep contaminated rainwater from running off its site and into Coyote Creek, a tributary of San Francisco Bay.

Baykeeper learned about pollution from Eco Box via a tip we received to our Pollution Hotline. We notified the company that they were violating the Clean Water Act after investigating and learning that storm water running off the site contained high levels of lead, zinc, and copper. The storm water also had high levels of total suspended solids—small particles of dirt and other waste that can smother aquatic life, including the salmon, steelhead, and other fish that spawn and mature in Coyote Creek. Eco Box is on the creek bank. The photo above shows the creek viewed from just outside the facility. Contaminated water from Eco Box flowed to storm drains that empty directly into the creek.

Eco Box rents and hauls away debris boxes, provides junk removal, and recycles materials that include construction waste, metal, household goods, electronic waste, paper, plastic, and yard waste. The company has been storing some materials outdoors, where they were exposed to rain.

Eco Box’s operators are now required to store and sort all metal and electronic waste indoors. During the rainy season, the storage area for yard waste and other green waste will be kept under a cover. The company has also installed storm drain filters to remove pollutants from rainwater before it runs off into the creek. Eco Box is required to test its storm water, and if these measures aren’t enough to prevent contamination of Coyote Creek and San Francisco Bay, the company will be required to implement additional pollution controls.

To partly make up for past pollution, Eco Box will provide funds to the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, to support other nonprofits’ projects that benefit San Francisco Bay.

This legally-binding agreement is the 35th victory in Baykeeper’s Bay-Safe Industry Campaign. The campaign targets the widespread problem of heavily polluted storm water runoff that flows into San Francisco Bay from Bay Area industrial facilities. If you see pollution around San Francisco Bay, contact our pollution hotline at 1-800-KEEP-BAY, hotline@baykeeper.org, or report pollution online.