Baykeeper's E-Newsletter for March 2014

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San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for March 2014
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San Francisco Bay

Baykeeper 25th Anniversary: 1989 Founding Changed the Fate of the Bay

miningIn the late 1980s, Dr. Michael Herz, a Bay research scientist, became increasingly alarmed about a serious decline in San Francisco Bay's health. No one was out on the Bay looking for pollution, and polluters were free to dump waste in the Bay with no fear of detection.

Mike was intrigued when he learned about Hudson Riverkeeper, a new organization that patrolled New York's Hudson River by boat, brought legal cases against polluters, got fines levied, and obtained court settlements that protected wetlands.

Would a "Waterkeeper" program for San Francisco Bay make sense? Mike tested the water by surveying regulatory agencies and environmental organizations. As he expected, the advocacy groups were very supportive. "But the big surprise was that the enforcement agencies also thought a Baykeeper could be very helpful," Mike said.

So in 1989, Mike founded San Francisco Baykeeper, the first Waterkeeper organization on the West Coast. Within a year, Baykeeper logged over 150 pollution incidents and illegal activities, and recruited 250 volunteers. The young organization was on its way to changing the fate of the Bay.

Read the full story of Baykeeper's 1989 founding.

Marine Express Works with Baykeeper to Keep Toxics Out of Bay

In the latest victory for Baykeeper's Bay-Safe Industry Campaign, 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. (Photo credit: Linda Meier)

The company was eager to address the problems, and began instituting better pollution controls even before signing a legally-binding agreement with Baykeeper that requires them to protect the Bay from runoff pollution.

Learn more about runoff pollution cleanup at Marine Express.

Nixing Dirty Coal Export from the Port of Oakland

Joining with a coalition of environmental groups, Baykeeper recently helped scuttle proposals by developers for two dangerous new facilities to export dirty coal from the Port of Oakland. Coal breaks apart easily, forming dust that contains mercury, arsenic, uranium, and other toxic substances. Transporting millions of tons of coal in mile-long open car trains to the port, and then loading it onto ships, would send toxic dust into the Bay. It would also further pollute the air of nearby communities already suffering from disproportionate pollution.

Baykeeper advocated against these proposals in coalition with the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, and Communities for a Better Environment.

On February 27, the Port of Oakland Commissioners voted unanimously to reject the coal export facilities.

Learn more about Baykeeper's successful advocacy against the export of dirty coal from Oakland.

Drought's Impact on Pollution in San Francisco Bay

With drought continuing to grip California, Baykeeper took a look at drought's impact on pollution in the Bay.

Drought can change the timing and vary the intensity of Bay pollution. For instance, when rain falls on exposed industrial areas and city streets, it washes pollutants into gutters that lead to storm drains that empty directly into the Bay. As long as rain isn't falling, the Bay gets little or no runoff pollution. But the pollutants build up between storms, so when rain does fall, the water that rushes into the Bay carries a higher pollution load. (Photo Credit: Robert Most)

This big pollution surge endangers birds, seals, and other wildlife, who are exposed to high levels of toxins. It can also endanger people. It's always a good idea for swimmers, surfers, kiters, and others who come in contact with Bay water to stay out of the Bay for three days after a rain storm. But it's even more important after a storm that follows weeks or months of dry weather, when the pollution load is largest.

Learn more about drought's impact on San Francisco Bay.

Save the Date—Baykeeper 25th Anniversary Party May 15

You're invited to Baykeeper's 25th Anniversary Party, Thursday, May 15, 2014, 6PM–8PM, at The Maritime Museum at Aquatic Park, San Francisco.

Our Anniversary Party features a hosted bar, sustainable fare, and a silent auction. Join us to celebrate a quarter-century of protecting San Francisco Bay.

Tickets begin at $75 and are on sale now. All proceeds benefit Baykeeper's work to make the Bay clean and healthy.

Find out more and purchase tickets to Baykeeper's 25th Anniversary Party.