Svendsen’s Boat Works to Reduce Bay Pollution

Apr 10, 2012

Last week Baykeeper and Svendsen’s Boat Works reached an agreement to reduce storm water pollution of San Francisco Bay from this important Alameda boat repair and maintenance facility.

Baykeeper’s testing of storm runoff from Svendsen’s, which is located along the Oakland estuary shoreline, found elevated levels of copper and zinc. Both of these heavy metals are toxic to salmon and other fish, and are common contaminants from boatyard operations.

The toxic runoff was mostly due to heavy metal flakes and dust released during sanding of paint off boat hulls during preparation for repainting. When rain fell, these contaminants were washed into the Bay.

“Svendsen’s has agreed to significant changes in their operations and better housekeeping to capture contaminants on site and keep them out of the Bay,” says Baykeeper Program Director, Jason Flanders. “We’re very pleased with their comprehensive plan to protect the Bay from excess copper and zinc.”

This agreement is part of Baykeeper’s Clean Boatyard Initiative, a region-wide effort to reduce pollution from the Bay Area’s boatyards. Boatyards are common sources of heavy metal contamination due to their work with hull paint and finishes. Activities such as pressure washing, sanding, painting and cleaning can release a wide variety of pollutants onto the site, which are then washed into the Bay by rainwater. Plus, because boatyards are located on the waterfront, the pollution washes directly into the Bay.

Baykeeper is working with several other boatyards with trouble containing polluted runoff in order to help develop solutions to drastically reduce boatyard pollution.

For example, one improvement at Svendsen’s will be a switch from wet sanding to high-powered vacuum sanding, which they expect to drastically reduce contaminants being exposed to storm water.

The boatyard will also install new trench drains to capture the site’s wastewater and rainwater for routing to a treatment system. In addition, Svendsen’s will repave a large portion of cracked pavement where pollutants were too difficult to clean up before getting mixed with storm water.

Moreover, Svendsen’s will begin a new sampling program to test their runoff for heavy metals. If their pollution is still elevated, they have agreed to implement additional control measures.

Baykeeper looks forward to partnering with Svendsen’s and other local boatyards to help ensure a healthier San Francisco Bay for all.

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