Marine Express, Inc., an Alameda company that repairs and services ships, agreed last week to install controls to keep toxic substances from running off its shoreline facility into San Francisco Bay. Baykeeper filed a Clean Water Act lawsuit against Marine Express after documenting pollution from the site that included toxic metals, oil, and grease above EPA levels of concern. The company immediately discussed the problems with Baykeeper, and began implementing the necessary pollution controls even before finalizing the legally-binding agreement with Baykeeper that requires the company to protect the Bay from runoff pollution.
This pollution control agreement is the latest success in Baykeeper’s Bay-Safe Industry Campaign to rein in widespread, illegal runoff pollution from Bay Area industrial facilities into the Bay.
Marine Express provides services that include ship repair and maintenance, on-ship construction support, tanker truck services, and removal and disposal of garbage and hazardous material from ships. The 5,000-square foot facility includes an engineering shop, a warehouse, a fuel storage tank area, hydraulic cranes, a storage tank for oily waste, and a pier.
While most of Marine Express’s ship repairs are done aboard ship, they perform some repairs and services outdoors on their pier and on parts of the site. The processes at the facility involve pollutants such as oil, diesel fuel, gasoline, solvents, sawdust, cleaning agents, metalworking dust, and paints. Outdoor activities, equipment, and truck and forklift traffic spread these pollutants around the site and expose them to rainfall. Metals were also being stored outdoors and exposed to rainfall.
Storm water from the facility flows into storm drains leading to the Oakland Estuary, which is connected to San Francisco Bay. In addition, fueling, metalworking, and woodworking done on the pier next to the water can result in contaminated storm water running off directly into the estuary.
Representatives from Marine Express were cooperative and welcomed Baykeeper's suggestions for improving the site’s pollution controls. Even before the agreement with Baykeeper was finalized, Marine Express removed some of the polluting operations from the pier to prevent pollutants from washing directly into the Oakland Estuary.
The company is also:
- Removing or covering all metals that are exposed to rain in their storage yard;
- Improving sweeping of the site;
- Installing berms (devices to slow and filter the flow of polluted water) around the facility pier and storm drains;
- Moving all operations off the pier to conduct polluting activities in other locations where the runoff will not directly enter the Bay; and
- Adopting better methods for measuring their runoff pollution in the future, based on protocols provided by Baykeeper.
Baykeeper will monitor Marine Express’s progress at reducing its runoff pollution into the Oakland Estuary and the Bay for three years, and, if necessary, the company has agreed to improve controls further to better protect the Bay.
This legally-binding cleanup agreement with Marine Express is the most recent victory in Baykeeper’s Bay-Safe Industry Campaign. A total of 18 facilities have now agreed to control their toxic runoff pollution of the Bay. In addition to legal action against Marine Express and other facilities found to be significantly polluting the Bay, the campaign includes outreach and education to industrial facilities, and advocacy for tighter regulations on industrial storm water.
Photo by Linda Meier