Controlling Pollution from a Pittsburg Steel Plant

Jun 28, 2011

Baykeeper recently voiced concerns to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board over new storm water and wastewater discharge regulations for the USS-POSCO Industries steel finishing plant in Pittsburg, California. Based on our comments, the Regional Board has elected to strengthen some limitations on the plant’s discharges.

Located just on the edge of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the 420-acre USS-POSCO plant has an on-site wastewater treatment system that discharges 28 million gallons of treated wastewater into New York Slough daily. In addition to wastewater discharges, the plant also discharges storm water that runs off of the site, some of which is released directly into the Slough without any treatment. Despite the plant’s extensive water treatment system, it has been cited for numerous violations in the past, such as copper, acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and temperature exceedances.

Baykeeper asked the Regional Board to address three main concerns. We asked for the wastewater limitations for zinc, naphthalene, tetrachloroethylene and cyanide to be at least as stringent as those in the former permit, or to at least justify lower limitations with a detailed explanation for the change. Additionally, we asked the Board to make the wastewater limitations for cyanide and copper as stringent as the most applicable water quality standards. Finally, Baykeeper asked the Board to apply additional limitations to the plant’s storm water discharges and to require that the plant test its storm water for priority pollutants on an annual basis.

In response to Baykeeper's comments, the Regional Board agreed to strengthen the limitations on zinc, napthalene and tetrachloroethylene discharges from the plant and to clarify the storm water limitations and monitoring requirements. The Regional Board will vote to approve the plant's new regulations on July 13. Baykeeper will continue to advocate for increased protections for the Bay from industrial polluters such as USS-POSCO.

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