Baykeeper Update

Union City Pipe Factory Agrees to Protect Bay from Toxic Runoff

In response to Baykeeper’s lawsuit, U.S. Pipe and Foundry recently agreed to stop polluted storm water from leaving its Union City pipe manufacturing facility. Runoff containing heavy metals and other toxic substances has been flowing off the U.S. Pipe and Foundry site into Ward Creek, a tributary of Alameda Creek, which empties into San Francisco Bay. Baykeeper sued U.S. Pipe and Foundry after our research uncovered that for the past five years, the company’s runoff contained levels of aluminum, copper, iron, lead, zinc, and other pollutants consistently above levels of concern set by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). U.S. Pipe and Foundry manufactures a wide variety of pipes and fittings in several large buildings on a 70-acre site. The facility also has an open yard containing equipment, trucks, metal, large bundles of pipes, and scrap materials. When rain falls on these materials and on vehicles stored outdoors, it picks up pollutants that include toxic metals, oil, and grease.

To keep this pollution out of San Francisco Bay, U.S. Pipe and Foundry will build a large retention pond to collect storm water from the facility, which will then be used onsite or allowed to evaporate. The pond must be designed to hold the amount of rain that falls in all but the most unusually long and heavy storms. Baykeeper will inspect the pond once it is installed, to ensure that it is adequate for the job. The company will also put in additional pollution controls to protect the Bay.

U.S. Pipe and Foundry has been in operation for over 100 years and conducts operations throughout the United States. To partly make up for its past pollution, the company will provide funds to the Rose Foundation for Communities and Environment, which makes grants to fund projects that benefit the San Francisco Bay watershed.

Baykeeper’s agreement with U.S. Pipe and Foundry is the latest victory in our Bay-Safe Industry Campaign. The campaign targets widespread, illegal runoff that flows into San Francisco Bay from most of the Bay Area’s 1,300 industrial facilities. In addition to legal action against U.S. Pipe and Foundry and other facilities found to be significantly polluting the Bay, the campaign includes outreach and education to industrial facilities, and advocacy to strengthen controls on industrial storm water.