As a result of Baykeeper’s lawsuit, SOS Steel Company, Inc. last week agreed 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.
The company fabricates and erects steel pieces used in the construction of buildings and bridges, using both pre-fabricated steel and raw materials. The facility includes a large outdoor clearing where materials and equipment are stored, allowing them to be exposed to rain that washes pollutants off the property.
Using SOS Steel’s self-reported data, Baykeeper discovered that the company’s storm water runoff contained pollutants that included aluminum, iron, zinc, and nitrogen 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. The company must also partially pave outdoor areas to reduce the accumulation of pollutants, stop storing unused scrap materials outdoors, and sweep the site much more frequently. In addition, SOS Steel will be required to test its storm water for pollutants and further upgrade its pollution controls if the river and the Bay are still not adequately protected from the facility’s contamination.
To help compensate for past environmental harm, SOS Steel will contribute funds to the Rose Foundation for the Environment, a non-profit organization that supports environmental restoration projects in the Bay Area.
This agreement with SOS Steel is the latest victory in Baykeeper’s 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 legal action against SOS Steel and other facilities found to be significantly polluting the Bay, the campaign includes outreach and education to industrial facilities, and advocacy to strengthen controls on industrial storm water.