Oil and Water Don’t Mix
For years, the water around Hyde Street Pier has been marred by the rainbow sheen of oil (pictured). Nearly once a month, swimmers and local business owners contact our pollution hotline to report noxious fumes and oily water washing up along shorelines nearby. And that’s not surprising because it’s the site of abandoned and deteriorating oil infrastructure. So our field team has been investigating and advocating for solutions.
Now, the responsible agency has proposed a new plan to clean up the oily mess. But there are problems with the proposal.
First, our hotline reporters have documented oil seeps from multiple locations across the harbor, but the plan does not require comprehensive cleanup of the area—meaning that even after this site is cleaned up, oil may continue leaking into the Bay.
Similarly, the plan only identifies one source and does not take into account the legacy contamination in the area that could be contributing to these oil leaks. That's why we believe the agency should determine whether legacy sources of oil are also contributing to polluting sheens, and if they are, the agency should engage those responsible entities in the remediation plans too.
And third, the plan does not take sea level rise or groundwater rise into account in the cleanup. Without remediation efforts that take these factors into consideration, remaining contamination buried in the area may continue to be exposed to water causing oil to keep polluting the Bay and the shoreline for decades into the future.
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