Santa Clara Waste Facility Agrees to Keep Toxic Runoff Out of the Bay

Feb 5, 2016

Mission Trail Waste Systems, Inc., a garbage and recycling facility in Santa Clara, recently agreed to keep contaminated rainwater from running off the site and into storm drains that empty into tributaries of San Francisco Bay.

Baykeeper sued the company under the Clean Water Act because storm water running off the facility contained high levels of pollutants. The pollutants include heavy metals and chemical oxygen demand, a measure of certain types of toxic chemicals in water.

Mission Trail collects garbage, green waste, and recyclables from Santa Clara and Los Altos residents and businesses. The materials are hauled to the Santa Clara facility and sorted. The facility’s operations have been allowing pollutants from the materials to contaminate rainwater that fell on the site.

Mission Trail's operators were cooperative in working with Baykeeper to find solutions to the site’s pollution problems. Under Mission Trail’s legally-binding agreement with Baykeeper, the company is required to install a device called a hydrodynamic separator, which removes pollutants from water that flows through it. If monitoring results show that storm water from the site is still polluted after this improvement is made, Mission Trail is required to install an advanced storm water treatment system. 

To partly make up for past pollution, Mission Trail will provide funds to the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory for projects to restore habitat for the endangered Western Snowy Plover in South San Francisco Bay. The company will also provide funds to the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment to fund additional projects that benefit San Francisco Bay.

This agreement with Mission Trail is the 31st victory in Baykeeper’s Bay-Safe Industry Campaign. The campaign targets the widespread problem of illegal storm water runoff that flows into San Francisco Bay from Bay Area industrial facilities. In addition to legal action against facilities found to be significantly polluting the Bay, the campaign includes advocacy and litigation to strengthen regulation of industrial storm water.

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