Victories to Protect San Francisco Bay from Industrial Pollution

Baykeeper’s Bay-Safe Industry Campaign is making rapid progress. We launched the campaign in 2012, and have so far secured legally-binding agreements requiring 51 industrial facilities to implement controls to keep toxic pollution from contaminating San Francisco Bay.

These victories include cleanup of toxic pollution by:

  • the West Coast’s largest dry dock,
  • the nation’s fourth largest steel foundry,
  • a major bulk shipping terminal,  
  • nineteen waste and/or recycling facilities,
  • four concrete production plants
  • three electronics recycling facilities,
  • four auto dismantlers,
  • and other industrial facilities that had contaminated the Bay with significant amounts of toxic substances.

The locations range from Napa and Benicia at the Bay’s north, with sites in San Francisco, Marin, East Bay, and all the way south to San Jose and Sunnyvale.

Our Bay-Safe Industry Campaign seeks to rein in the widespread problem of industrial runoff pollution to the Bay. The Bay Area has over 1,000 industrial facilities, and most are not doing what’s required to keep toxic pollution from being washed into the Bay by rain. Runoff from industrial facilities often contains high concentrations of dangerous pollutants such as heavy metals and petroleum hydrocarbons.

These contaminants harm wildlife and people who spend time in and around the Bay. Even during a drought this pollution is a threat—when rain is less frequent, the pollution can be more concentrated.

Baykeeper’s victories for a healthier Bay begin with our documenting the facility’s pollution. This often means collecting our own samples of runoff from the facility for laboratory analysis. Next, we file a Clean Water Act lawsuit against the facility, which is necessary to reach an agreement that legally requires the company to reduce pollution. 

Baykeeper’s expert legal and science staff then visit the site, discuss operations with facility staff, and recommend controls that will be most effective and cost-efficient at reducing pollution. Once Baykeeper and the company agree on the actions the company must take to stop contaminating the Bay, we sign a legally-binding agreement that specifies the actions, timeframe, and required pollution reductions.

For the next three to five years, Baykeeper monitors the facility’s pollution reduction progress. Of the facilities where we have secured cleanup agreements, 41 (shown in green in the map above) have reduced their pollution and concluded their cleanup agreements with Baykeeper. Several other facilities are making progress toward protecting the Bay from toxic contamination, and have reduced their runoff pollution levels by 50 to 90%.

Baykeeper is negotiating with more industrial facilities to secure cleanup of their toxic pollution of the Bay, and we are investigating more facilities to determine if they are polluting the Bay. 

In addition to legal action to stop industrial pollution, our Bay-Safe Industry Campaign includes advocacy and legal action to strengthen regulations on industrial storm water.