Major Bulk Shipping Terminal Agrees to Stop Toxic Contamination of the Bay

Oct 10, 2014

In a critical win for stopping toxic industrial pollution in San Francisco Bay, Baykeeper has secured an agreement with the Levin-Richmond Terminal Corporation to install an excellent set of controls to protect the Bay from toxic runoff.   

Levin-Richmond is a major shipping terminal that handles hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic materials on the Richmond Channel, often stored in large exposed piles along the shoreline. The company resisted pressure from Baykeeper to clean up the facility’s runoff for more than two years, before agreeing to a strong set of standards for reducing runoff pollution.

“Baykeeper is pleased that the Levin-Richmond Terminal has committed significant resources to reduce Bay pollution,” said Sejal Choksi-Chugh, Baykeeper Program Director. “This agreement specifies that the company will immediately make extensive improvements to keep toxic substances from washing and blowing into San Francisco Bay.”

Baykeeper first became concerned about the Levin-Richmond terminal during routine patrols on the Baykeeper boat. We discovered that the company was stockpiling cargo materials uncovered along the shoreline of Richmond Channel, an inlet of San Francisco Bay.

The piled materials included metallurgical coke, petroleum coke, and coal. Approximately one million tons of these materials per year are transferred between cargo ships, rail cars, and trucks. Levin-Richmond’s methods of storing materials and loading them onto ships were exposing petroleum coke and other materials to wind and rain. This allowed toxic materials to be washed and blown into the Bay.

Now, under the terms of the agreement with Baykeeper, Levin-Richmond will invest approximately $1.4 million to implement a broad set of pollution controls to reduce toxic contamination of the Bay.

The company will install systems to filter pollutants out of rainy-weather runoff before it leaves the site. Levin-Richmond will also seal wooden portions of the site’s loading dock to prevent toxic materials and contaminated water from directly entering the Bay. Conveyor systems will be upgraded and covered, to keep toxic materials from coming into contact with wind and rain as they are moved. The company will upgrade its loaders and loading and unloading practices, to prevent spills as materials are loaded onto ships.

Polluting debris that is tracked offsite will be cleaned up more frequently, and measures will be taken to prevent the movement of toxic materials off the facility and around rail lines. In addition, Levin-Richmond will install a wind monitor and controls to keep toxic dust from blowing into the adjacent Lauritzen Canal. The company has already taken initial steps to install some of these agreed-upon pollution controls. 

Furthermore, in future rainy seasons, Levin-Richmond will monitor the site’s rainy-weather runoff, to ensure the controls are effectively reducing pollution. If the facility’s runoff continues to contain toxic substances above EPA levels of concern, the company must install more advanced pollution controls.

To help compensate for past environmental harm, Levin will contribute $50,000 to the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, a non-profit organization that distributes funding to other nonprofits’ Bay Area environmental restoration projects.

Levin-Richmond’s commitment to pollution cleanup is the latest victory in Baykeeper’s Bay-Safe Industry Campaign. Baykeeper is targeting the widespread problem of illegal rainy-season runoff that flows into San Francisco Bay from Bay Area industrial facilities. We have now secured legally-binding agreements requiring cleanup by 22 industrial facilities that had been allowing significant amounts of toxic substances to run off into the Bay.

In addition to legal action against facilities found to be polluting the Bay, the campaign includes outreach and education to industrial facilities, and advocacy for tighter regulations on industrial storm water. 

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