Baykeeper's E-Newsletter for November 2015

San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for November 2015
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San Francisco Bay

Caltrans Implodes Old Bay Bridge Pier

On Saturday, Caltrans imploded a concrete pier that supported the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

The pier was demolished using 600 charges of explosives over a period of six seconds. As expected, the operation sent a large plume of dust and debris into San Francisco Bay's waters.

Baykeeper advocated for the pier to be removed mechanically, rather than with explosives. Our staff scientist also helped Caltrans develop a monitoring program to assess the damage done by this first implosion.

Results of the monitoring program will be available next year. We will evaluate them to find out whether the implosion caused more pollution and harm to Bay wildlife than mechanical removal would cause. If implosion proves to be more harmful, Baykeeper will advocate for the rest of the piers to be removed in a more environmentally-sound manner.

Photo by Roger Cunningham

Advocating to Protect San Francisco Bay from Trash Pollution

There's already way too much trash in San Francisco Bay. Now, regulators are about to approve rules that will make it much harder to stop trash pollution in the Bay.

A big thank you to everyone who signed Baykeeper's petition, telling the Regional Water Quality Control Board the Bay needs more protection from trash pollution, not less.

We're asking the Board to require cities to take specific action to reduce trash, and then monitor to ensure the pollution is being reduced. We're submitting the petition at a critical public hearing today.

Baykeeper Opposes Crude Oil Shipped in Tank Cars Along the Bay's Shore

Baykeeper recently urged Benicia city leaders to block Valero Energy Corporation's plan to enlarge the train yard at its Benicia refinery.

If Valero gets its way, two 50-car trains per day would carry dirty and explosive crude oil on tracks beside Suisun Bay, a San Francisco Bay inlet and important wildlife habitat area. Oil spilled along Suisun Bay's shore could quickly spread throughout San Francisco Bay.

Yet the project planners greatly underestimate the risk of fires, explosions, and oil spills as a result in the increase in shipping crude oil to the facility by rail.

Baykeeper has been partnering with local community and environmental groups to stop this project for more than a year. We'll keep working to protect the Bay and the Bay Area from an influx of crude oil shipped by rail and the big risk of oil spills.

Learn more about Baykeeper's advocacy against increased oil shipment in the Bay Area.

Photo by Robb Most

Proposed Vallejo Export Terminal and Cement Plant Could Harm the Bay

A bulk shipping port and cement plant proposed along the shores of Mare Island Strait in Vallejo could contaminate San Francisco Bay and nearby communities, Baykeeper recently told Vallejo city leaders.

Baykeeper is particularly concerned that the terminal would be used to ship petroleum coke—a toxic byproduct of oil refining—and could potentially be used to export coal. It's likely that toxic dust would be washed and blown into the Bay.

The project would also fill several acres of Bay wetlands, reduce public access to the shoreline, and disrupt the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Baykeeper is partnering with the Sierra Club and Vallejo residents to oppose the project, officially known as the Vallejo Marine Terminal/Orcem Cement project.

Learn more about Baykeeper's advocacy against the Vallejo Export Terminal/Orcem Cement project.

Photo by Bill Williams (Flickr/CC)

Delta Tunnels Renamed Cal Water Fix, Still Bad for the Bay

The 35-mile tunnels proposed to route freshwater from the northern end of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to pumps on the southern end have a new name, the California Water Fix.

But that doesn't change the harm that this project, estimated to cost $25 billion, would cause to San Francisco Bay. The Delta tunnels would starve the Bay of freshwater, increase pollution, and endanger fish.

Baykeeper recently opposed the environmentally-destructive Delta tunnels by submitting comments on the project's revised environmental review documents.

Instead of diverting even more freshwater from the Bay, California needs to increase freshwater flows to the Delta and Bay, and restore the ecosystem.

Learn more about the harm the Delta tunnels would cause to the Bay.

Saying No to Development on Cargill Salt Ponds

Baykeeper recently took action in a long-running fight to prevent development on 1,365 acres of former south San Francisco Bay wetlands. The area, used for decades to manufacture salt, is known as the Cargill salt ponds.

Cargill, Inc. and a developer, DMB Redwood City Saltworks, are trying to get the federal government to declare that the salt ponds are not protected by the Clean Water Act. If the two companies succeed, they could more easily move forward with their plans to fill in the salt ponds and construct retail space, offices, and condominiums.

In response, Baykeeper led advocacy with Citizens Committee to Complete the Refuge to urge the Environmental Protection Agency to declare that the Cargill salt ponds are protected by the Clean Water Act.

A much better use for the salt ponds would be to restore them as wetlands and make them part of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. This would preserve wildlife habitat and buffer the effects of sea level rise on a vulnerable area of the South Bay.

Learn more about Baykeeper's efforts to prevent development on the Cargill salt ponds.

Photo by Joan Robins

Waterkeeper Report: Nation's Rail Bridges Unsafe for Shipping Oil by Train

Across the nation, more trains are hauling tank cars full of crude oil over rail bridges that are deteriorating and unsafe. That's the finding of a first-of-its-kind investigative report by the Waterkeeper Alliance, San Francisco Baykeeper's international alliance of Waterkeeper organizations, and Forest Ethics.

The national report, titled Deadly Crossing: Neglected Bridges & Exploding Oil Trains, describes the findings from 250 citizen inspections of rail bridges in 12 states.

Baykeeper conducted 49 inspections of rail bridges around San Francisco Bay, and found several with serious safety concerns, including a rail bridge in Oakland with cracked concrete.

The report includes recommendations for decreasing the threat of oil spills from train accidents.

Learn more about and read the Deadly Crossing report.