25th Anniversary Flash from the Past: Dow Chemical Required to Clean Up Its Contamination of the Bay

Sep 15, 2014

In 2002, Baykeeper compelled Dow Chemical’s Pittsburg plant to keep dangerous toxic chemicals from contaminating Suisun Bay, an inlet of San Francisco Bay.

Dow’s pollution included a long list of chemicals that cause cancer and reproductive harm, including chlorinated solvents. In addition to polluting the Bay, the contamination had reached groundwater four miles upstream from a Contra Costa Water District drinking water intake.

The victory came after a five-year court fight. Dow signed a legally-binding agreement with Baykeeper requiring the company to meet yearly targets for a multi-million dollar cleanup of the pollution.

As a result, the company pumped out and treated the toxic groundwater. They also installed a system that used naturally existing bacteria, along with substances that included molasses, to break down the contaminants into less harmful by-products.

To partly make up for its pollution, Dow paid a $3 million penalty. $1.75 million of the funds went to Ducks Unlimited and the California Coastal Conservancy to restore and acquire wetlands at Bel Marin Keys near Novato in Marin County. The remaining funds were used to restore additional wetlands around the Bay and to improve the Bay’s water quality.

This year Baykeeper celebrates 25 years of successful action to protect San Francisco Bay from pollution. In honor of our 25th anniversary, we are highlighting key victories for the Bay over the course of our history, including this court fight that both stopped pollution from a major corporation and led to restoration of important Bay wildlife habitat.

Related Content

Baykeeper 25th Anniversary Flash from the Past: The Nation’s First Regulations on Agricultural Pesticides Secured
Ten years ago, San Francisco Baykeeper won a major victory for protecting California waterways from pesticides, when we secured the first regulations on agricultural pesticides in the nation. This...
25th Anniversary Flash from the Past: Preventing 30-Million-Gallon Sewage Overflows into the Bay
In 2000, Baykeeper and a coalition of neighborhood and environmental groups won crucial changes in the redevelopment of San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood. In a major win for San Francisco Bay...
25th Anniversary Flash from the Past—Refineries Compelled to Stop Selenium Pollution
In 1998, Baykeeper and our partners won a great victory for San Francisco Bay when we compelled two oil refineries to stop contaminating the Bay with selenium. The refinery owners, oil giants Unocal...
Join us to hold polluters accountable and defend the Bay DONATE NOW >