Tackling Toxic Flooding—From Above and Below

The Zeneca toxic site along the Bay in Richmond, from the air

Last week, Baykeeper co-hosted a workshop with scientists and environmental justice advocates to tackle the threat of sea level and groundwater rise inundating the Bay’s toxic sites.

There are over 1,000 contaminated hotspots around the Bay, many of which are vulnerable to rising waters, both from the Bay and from underground. These sites contain pollutants like heavy metals, PCBs, and even atomic waste in the case of Hunters Point. Once exposed to water, these toxic pollutants will become fluid and spread into neighborhoods and the Bay. Hundreds of toxic sites throughout the Bay already experience contaminated groundwater, making them even harder to clean up.

Baykeeper worked with researchers, city officials, agency representatives, and community partners—including Greenaction for Health & Environmental Justice and the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project—to report on the implications for the Bay and the people that would most likely be affected. More often than not, those most affected are communities of color already disproportionately burdened by pollution.

The workshop successfully bridged longstanding divides between science, environmental justice, and government policy by fostering new connections within those fields. We’ll keep the pressure on to make sure local and federal agencies are protecting our communities and the Bay from toxic flooding.

Pictured, above: the Zeneca/Stauffer chemical toxic site in Richmond (lower right), captured by Baykeeper