Baykeeper's E-newsletter September 2017

Coastal Cleanup Day is coming up this Saturday!
San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for September 2017
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Baykeeper tests for microplastic pollution in the Bay

Microplastics studyThe Baykeeper boat was recently out on the water to help test for microplastics in San Francisco Bay.

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that come from trash, synthetic fabrics, and cosmetics washed down the drain. These particles absorb toxins, concentrating in fish and other marine creatures that eat them—and move up the food chain all the way to people.

While California banned one type of microplastic, plastic microbeads in personal care products, there are still many other sources of microplastics.

Baykeeper and our partners at 5Gyres and the San Francisco Estuary Institute (SFEI) are collaborating on a new analysis of Bay microplastic pollution. SFEI and Baykeeper conducted a landmark study of microplastics in the Bay in 2015. Now we're using new sampling methods to get even more detailed results.

We took the Baykeeper boat to test for microplastics in the South Bay, the Oakland Estuary, and near the Golden Gate Bridge. We'll use the results to build on our efforts to rein in microplastic pollution in the Bay.

Pictured: Baykeeper Staff Scientist Ian Wren

Victory! Stopping Bay pollution from a trash facility

Baylands bird

Peninsula Sanitary Service, Inc., has agreed to stop releasing polluted runoff into creeks that flow to San Francisco Bay.

Recent monitoring showed that the facility, which handles waste from Stanford University's campus, was releasing heavy metals, oil, and other toxins through a channel into creeks flowing to San Francisco Bay and Palo Alto's Baylands Nature Preserve. Contaminant levels were high enough to harm fish and other wildlife, such as the dowitcher pictured here.

Baykeeper worked with the owners of Peninsula Sanitary Service to develop a plan for reining in this polluted runoff. In August, the company agreed to make upgrades to keep pollution in check.

This is the 39th victory in Baykeeper's Bay-Safe Industry Campaign, which targets the widespread problem of heavily polluted, illegal storm water runoff that flows into San Francisco Bay from Bay Area industrial facilities.

Read more about Baykeeper's legally binding agreement with Peninsula Sanitary Service.

Photo of Palo Alto Baylands dowitcher by Robb Most

Baykeeper fights toxic selenium harming Bay wildlife

Jaegar Moore-Shell-Refinery

The Shell oil refinery in Martinez releases too much toxic selenium into San Francisco Bay, harming wildlife. Baykeeper recently advocated for new requirements for Shell to reduce the facility's selenium levels.

At trace levels, selenium is an essential micronutrient—but even at moderate levels, it's a potent toxic pollutant. Selenium inhibits growth and causes deformities in wildlife, and it can kill ducks and fish.

Oil refineries are the largest source of selenium pollution in the Bay, and Shell discharges more selenium into the Bay than any other refinery, according to reporting from the company itself. And this selenium is harming the Bay. In the North Bay, downstream from the region's oil refineries, monitoring by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife has shown dangerous levels of selenium in wildlife.

Baykeeper urged regulators to require Shell to take concrete steps to reduce its selenium pollution to levels that are safer for the Bay's wildlife. For the health of our ecosystem, we will continue to take every opportunity to strongly advocate for less selenium pollution in San Francisco Bay.

Read more about our efforts to fight selenium discharges into the Bay.

Photo by Jaegar Moore, Flickr/CC

Report Bay pollution to the Baykeeper hotline

Report pollution

If you see pollution in San Francisco Bay, you can help get it stopped by reporting it to Baykeeper's confidential pollution hotline.

Since our founding as the Bay's pollution watchdog, Baykeeper has received thousands of pollution reports from people all over the Bay Area. They alerted us after spotting (or smelling) something suspicious in San Francisco Bay's waters, along its shorelines, or in danger of running off into the Bay via creek or storm drain.

If you see a leaking pipe, illegal dumping, sewage spill, or other pollution in San Francisco Bay—or pollution that could run into creeks or storm drains that lead to the Bay—report it to Baykeeper.

Our Field Investigator will investigate the incident and do what it takes to prevent the pollution or get it stopped. Some of these reports have led to Baykeeper advocacy and legal action that have successfully stopped facilities or individuals from polluting the Bay.

If you use our online form or hotline email address, you can also attach photos and other information to help guide our investigation.

Report pollution to 1-800-KEEP-BAY,, or at

Photo by Bart Quigley

Thanks for saying no to more oil tankers on the Bay!

Oil Tanker

Thank you to everyone who joined Baykeeper in telling local decision-makers NO to more oil tankers on San Francisco Bay.

Phillips 66, the same oil company that has had two oil spills in the Bay over the last year, wants to more than double the number of tankers bringing crude oil—including heavy tar sands oil—into the 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. When spilled into waters, this kind of oil is 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.

Baykeeper recently submitted our legal analysis of the problems with the Phillips 66 proposal to Bay Area regulators. We were joined in our advocacy by partner organizations Friends of the Earth, Communities for a Better Environment,, Sierra Club, and Center for Biological Diversity.

More than 270 Baykeeper supporters and subscribers also submitted comments saying no to more oil tankers on San Francisco Bay. Thank you for taking action to protect the Bay!

Learn more about Baykeeper's work to prevent Phillips 66 from increasing the number of oil tankers on the Bay.

Photo by rulenumberone2, Flickr/CC

Tonight: Eat & drink at Farley's East cafe for a healthy Bay

Farley's East

Join Baykeeper this evening for a happy hour benefit at Farley's East! Uptown Oakland's favorite coffee shop and cafe has selected Baykeeper as its September nonprofit of the month.

20% of all proceeds from 5:00 to 9:00pm on Thursday, September 14, will support Baykeeper's work for a healthy San Francisco Bay. Stop by for a tasty meal, glass of wine or beer, or an evening espresso to support our efforts to defend the Bay from pollution. And keep an eye out for our table to say howdy to Baykeeper staff.

Farley's East is located at 33 Grand Avenue, near Broadway and 19th Street BART (map).

Learn more and RSVP on Facebook to the Happy Hour at Farley's East event.

Photo courtesy of Farley's East

This Saturday: Join us for Coastal Cleanup Day

Coastal Cleanup Day

Join us for Coastal Cleanup Day this coming Saturday, September 16. Coastal Cleanup Day is the state's largest single effort to clear trash from beaches and shorelines, attracting tens of thousands of volunteers across California. Our cleanup will take place at India Basin Shoreline Park, San Francisco, 9am-12 pm.

Find more Coastal Cleanup Day details and register as a cleanup volunteer.

Plus, Baykeeper will host two more shoreline cleanups in the coming weeks. Now is the time to clean up trash before it gets washed into the Bay by winter rains!

On September 30, Baykeeper will cohost a shoreline cleanup with Holy Hikes, a liturgical hiking group, at Pickleweed Park in San Rafael. We'll also be joined by members of the Marin Audubon Society, which owns the nearby Tiscornia Marsh, home to several endangered species. All are welcome to join this event to support a healthy Bay. Click here for more details.

Your help is also needed on Sunday, October 8, at our 2nd annual Bay Day shoreline cleanup in partnership with the San Francisco Dolphin Swimming & Boating Club. Pitch in to remove trash and debris at San Francisco's Aquatic Park from 5:00 to 7:00pm (after Fleet Week festivities are over). Click here for details and to RSVP on Facebook.

Photo by Robb Most

Battle of the Bay watersport fest is coming

Swim Across America

The 7th annual Battle of the Bay watersport festival is coming to the beaches of Presidio National Park in San Francisco on Saturday, September 23.

The Baykeeper boat will provide on-the-water safety support. Stop at the Baykeeper table to enter a raffle for a free rental from California Canoe & Kayak!

The festival is open to all skill levels and ages. It will feature stand-up paddleboarding, canoe, surfski, and prone paddling. Some of the world's top SUP competitors will race around Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge.

For more information, please visit the Battle of the Bay website.

Photo courtesy of Battle of the Bay

Photo at top by Roberto Soncin Gerometta