BAE Systems San Francisco Ship Repair, Inc., a ship yard servicing large vessels that include cruise liners and oil tankers, has agreed to make significant improvements to its operations and on-site controls to curb its pollution of San Francisco Bay. The company will also provide funding for an innovative program to educate boaters about Bay-friendly boatyard maintenance.
Baykeeper filed suit against BAE after documenting polluted runoff that far exceeded Environmental Protection Agency limits for toxic heavy metals. We documented 113 samples of toxic rainy-season runoff from BAE over the last five years contaminated with high levels of copper, nickel, lead, zinc and other toxic substances. Many exceeded Environmental Protection Agency limits by hundreds of times.
Baykeeper staff on boat patrol also took water samples that were nearly 20,000 times higher than the Environmental Protection Agency pollution limit, and witnessed giant clouds of red dust drifting from BAE onto Bay waters. See the video below of Baykeeper's Staff Scientist, Ian Wren, collecting samples from the Baykeeper boat.
BAE’s 12-acre facility at the foot of 20th Street in southeast San Francisco offers the largest floating dry dock on the U.S. West Coast. The facility provides a variety of services, including abrasive blasting, hydroblasting and pressure washing of boat surfaces.
BAE is already working quickly and effectively to correct their failing pollution controls. These controls include using vertical and horizontal shrouding to keep dust and particles from escaping the dry dock. BAE will also close nearly 100 unnecessary storm drains that discharge directly to the Bay. Remaining storm drains will be fit with filtration systems designed to capture contaminants before storm water discharges from the site. The new pollution controls should not be too difficult or overly expensive for BAE to implement.
To ensure that these upgrades work, BAE will increase its storm water monitoring for industrial contaminants and submit the results to Baykeeper for evaluation.
The legal settlement also includes mitigation for BAE’s past pollution. Funding will be provided to a local nonprofit boat building organization, Spaulding Wooden Boat Center in Sausalito, to create a model non-polluting boat maintenance and repair facility, which will be used to educate boat yard owners and boaters about best practices for keeping contaminants out of San Francisco Bay. Read more about this innovative pollution prevention program.
Photo by Dave R (Flickr/CC)