Fighting to Stop Selenium Pollution that Harms Bay Wildlife

The Shell oil refinery in Martinez discharges too much toxic selenium into San Francisco Bay, harming wildlife, Baykeeper recently told regulators. We urged the Regional Water Quality Control Board to tighten limits on the amount of selenium in treated wastewater Shell is permitted to release into the Bay.

At trace levels, selenium is an essential micronutrient. But selenium is also a byproduct of oil refining. At moderate levels in water, it’s a potent toxic pollutant. Selenium inhibits growth and causes gross deformities in wildlife, and can kill bottom-feeding ducks and fish.

More Oil Tankers on the Bay? Baykeeper Says No

The oil company Phillips 66 wants to increase the number of tanker ships bringing crude oil, including heavy tar sands oil, to its refinery—from 59 to 135 tankers per year. The refinery is located in Rodeo on the San Francisco Bay shoreline, and more tanker ships will mean a bigger risk of oil spills in the Bay.

On August 28, Baykeeper submitted our expert analysis of problems with this proposal to Bay Area regulators. We were joined by partner organizations Friends of the Earth, Communities for a Better Environment,, Sierra Club, and Center for Biological Diversity.


Baykeeper Strengthens Law for Keeping Dry Dock Pollution out of the Bay

Recently, Baykeeper successfully advocated for local regulators to strengthen pollution controls at dry dock shipyards in San Francisco Bay.

Dry docks are large three-walled structures where big ships pull in and are lifted entirely out of water for maintenance, such as removing old hull paint and repainting. If not contained properly, maintenance activities within the dry docks can result in heavy metals and other toxic substances contaminating the Bay and the sediment on the Bay floor.

Protecting the Bay from Vineyard Pesticides

Baykeeper recently won new protections for the Napa River and Sonoma Creek—both tributaries of San Francisco Bay—from pesticide pollution.

Grape growing for wine production tends to rely heavily on pesticides, fertilizers, and other potentially harmful substances. Contaminated soil and water running off vineyards seep into nearby waterways, which can carry polluted agricultural runoff all the way to San Francisco Bay. In addition, soil eroding from vineyards can muddy nearby creeks, making it difficult for fish to navigate and spawn.


Mystery Shark Deaths in the Bay

For more than three months, hundreds of dead leopard sharks have been washing up on San Francisco Bay’s shoreline. Shark experts investigating the mysterious deaths have made progress, but they haven’t yet determined the exact cause.

If you see a shark stranded on the shoreline, don’t try to push it back in the water. Report its exact location to Baykeeper’s hotline at 1-800-KEEP-BAY (1-800-533-7229) and send photos to

Trump Nixes Climate Accord—We Keep Defending the Bay

President Trump recently announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord. This historic agreement, reached by 195 countries in 2015, sets targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting the rise in average global temperatures.

By withdrawing, the U.S. is taking a serious step back from leadership on containing climate change and preserving a healthy planet for future generations.


Subscribe to San Francisco Baykeeper RSS