Baykeeper's E-newsletter August 2017

Updates on the sunken barge, Baykeeper boat patrol discoveries & fun upcoming events on the Bay

San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for August 2017
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The cleanup of the Ghost Fleet is complete

Cape Borda leaving SF Bay

The toxic Ghost Fleet is finally gone from San Francisco Bay. These 57 decaying military ships had been poisoning San Francisco Bay for 40 years—but they've now been cleaned up as a result of Baykeeper's successful legal action and watchdogging.

The fleet of old military ships slowly decayed, leaking fuel, rusting, collecting invasive species, and shedding toxic paint. Pollution levels rose high enough to harm fish and other wildlife.

Baykeeper and our partners, Arc Ecology and Natural Resources Defense Council, successfully sued to stop this pollution. Starting in 2010, the federal government was required to rein in the fleet's contaminants and remove the vessels from Suisun Bay.

In the past month, the last two ships were towed out of the Bay to be dismantled and recycled for parts. Above is a photo of the final ship departing San Francisco Bay.

Experts estimate that the cleanup and removal of the Ghost Fleet has prevented 50 tons of heavy metals from being blown and washed into the Bay. The cleanup also kept 14 million gallons of oil and wastewater out of the Bay, along with 38,000 cubic yards of PCBs, a highly toxic and long-lasting pollutant.

This is a major victory for a healthier San Francisco Bay ecosystem!

Read more and see photos of the cleanup of the Ghost Fleet.

Photo by Tim Eichenberg for Baykeeper

Toxic shack endangers the Bay—Baykeeper gets it removed

Building 64

On a Baykeeper pollution patrol earlier this year, Executive Director Sejal Choksi-Chugh spotted a crumbling shack off San Francisco's eastern shoreline.

Baykeeper investigated and learned the building was possibly contaminated with asbestos and toxic metals. We also discovered that the site, called Building 64, was owned by the Port of San Francisco.

After a big storm immersed the building in the water, we alerted Port staff and urged them to take down the structure. Port staff quickly agreed to have the building removed to prevent further contamination.

Recently the Port demolished and removed Building 64. The shack is now completely gone, and the site no longer threatens the Bay.

Baykeeper will continue our boat patrols, and continue taking effective action to stop any threats of contamination we discover on San Francisco Bay.

Read more about the removal of Building 64.

Photo by Ben Eichenberg, Baykeeper

Update: Sunken barge removed from the Bay

Vengeance barge

A barge with a large crane that sank during a violent storm in April has been removed from the floor of San Francisco Bay. Baykeeper closely monitored the salvage process to ensure appropriate precautions were in place to protect the Bay. We are glad to report that neither the barge nor the crane appear to have caused significant harm to the Bay.

The sunken barge, named Vengeance, contained up to 4,000 gallons of diesel and 300 gallons of hydraulic oil. Reports indicate that the barge leaked fuel in the first few hours after the incident, but the total amount leaked into the Bay remains unclear.

After the barge went down, Baykeeper conducted regular boat patrols to monitor the site. We also stayed in regular contact with the US Coast Guard to ensure that measures were taken to protect the Bay.

Divers cut the barge into three pieces and a salvage company used a giant crane to bring the pieces up. The photo above shows two pieces of the barge atop a salvage vessel.

Read more about the removal of the sunken barge.

Photo by Tim Eichenberg for Baykeeper

Action Alert: Protect SF Bay from crude oil spills

Oil Tanker

The oil company Phillips 66 wants to more than double the number of tankers bringing crude oil—including heavy tar sands oil—into San Francisco Bay. More tanker ships will mean a higher risk of a catastrophic oil spill.

The oil arriving at the Phillips 66 refinery will likely be dirty, heavy tar sands oil. Tar sands oil spills are virtually impossible to clean up. If a tar sands oil spill occurred in the Bay, it could cause serious harm to wildlife and irreparably damage the ecosystem's food chain.

Philips 66's track record is not encouraging. Last September, a tanker docked at the refinery leaked fuel into the Bay. The incident left an oily sheen and released noxious fumes that sickened nearby residents.

We're asking Baykeeper supporters—and everyone who loves the Bay—to tell local decision-makers that you oppose this big risk for the Bay's health. If you've already taken action, thank you. If you haven't, you've still got time. And feel free to forward the link to your friends who want to protect the Bay.

Please take action today, and speak out to protect the Bay from toxic oil spills.

Photo by rulenumberone2, Flickr/CC

Tour the Bay on FDR's yacht with Baykeeper and Atlas Obscura, Sept 9

USS Potomac

Join Baykeeper and Atlas Obscura for a unique cruise of San Francisco Bay aboard Franklin Delano Roosevelt's presidential yacht, the USS Potomac, on Saturday, September 9.

The event will feature a series of insider perspectives, including:

  • Champion marathon swimmer Kim Chambers on open water swimming in the Bay;
  • Senior Golden Gate Bridge engineer Noel Stampfli on the bridge's history and structure;
  • San Francisco Bar Pilot Kenneth Carlson on the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill and navigating the Bay; and
  • Wastewater expert Ben Horenstein on the status of sewage pollution in the Bay.

Join Baykeeper and the adventure and exploration society Atlas Obscura for this exclusive insight into San Francisco Bay!

Tickets are $70 per person. Proceeds support Baykeeper's work keeping the Bay clean, healthy, and safe.

Click here to learn more and to register for this event.

Photo courtesy of the Potomac Association

Volunteer to stop trash in SF Bay on Coastal Cleanup Day, Sept 16

Coastal Cleanup Day

Help keep trash out of San Francisco Bay! Join Baykeeper for a shoreline cleanup on Coastal Cleanup Day, taking place Saturday, September 16.

Coastal Cleanup Day is a global celebration of healthy shorelines, with millions of volunteers clearing trash from beach areas and shores around the world.

Show your love for Bay Area shorelines by joining Baykeeper's cleanup of the trash that disproportionately affects the communities near San Francisco's eastern shoreline at India Basin Shoreline Park.

All ages are welcome at this free and family-friendly event. Volunteers are encouraged to bring gloves and buckets. We recommend wearing layers and bringing sunscreen and water. Advance registration is appreciated.

Time: Saturday, September 16, 2017: 9am to 12pm
Place: India Basin Shoreline Park, San Francisco (map)

Click here to learn more and to register for this event.

Photo by Robb Most

Join Baykeeper and Swim Across America on Sept 17

Swim Across America

On September 17, Swim Across America presents its 12th Annual San Francisco Bay Area Swim to benefit cancer research and patient recovery at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals.

The Baykeeper boat will be providing safety support for swimmers at the event. We're proud to support these Bay swimmers in their efforts for Swim Across America!

The Swim Across America event is seeking volunteer paddlers to assist with swimmer support. You can help make the event fun and safe for all. For more details, please refer to Swim Across America's Bay Area swim web page.

Photo courtesy of Swim Across America

Photo at top by Roberto Soncin Gerometta


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