Baykeeper's E-newsletter for August 2019

Welcoming Baykeeper's new Field Investigator, fighting plastic pollution, wrapping up our 6th annual Bay Parade, and more

San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for August 2019
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Oil and coal polluters in cahoots

Coal train

The oil industry recently muscled its way into the battle over toxic coal exports around San Francisco Bay.

Richmond city leaders have been considering an ordinance that would prohibit companies from storing coal along train tracks in neighborhoods and commercial areas.

Currently the coal sits in open train cars, awaiting shipment from the Bay Area's only coal export terminal. Black, gritty coal dust coats Richmond neighborhoods, where it can cause asthma and other diseases. When it gets washed and blown into the Bay, it's toxic to wildlife.

In addition to coal, the proposed ordinance prohibits the open storage of petroleum coke, a toxic byproduct of oil refining. And that spurred the oil industry to apply strong pressure to the Richmond Planning Commission, which then voted to oppose the ordinance.

"The Richmond Planning Commission should be ashamed of this vote," said Ben Eichenberg, Baykeeper Staff Attorney. "They caved to bullying by Big Oil, and they chose not to stand up for Richmond residents who deserve clean air and a healthy Bay."

Fortunately, the Richmond City Council will vote later this year and can still make the right decision. Baykeeper will continue advocating to keep toxic coal away from Richmond residents and out of San Francisco Bay.

Learn more about Richmond's proposed coal ordinance.

Photo by Paul K. Anderson

If at first polluters don't clean up, we make them try, try again

SOS Steel

Baykeeper requires polluters to stop contaminating San Francisco Bay... but what happens when they don't?

We make them keep trying.

SOS Steel Company, Inc., a Santa Clara steel fabricator, has been polluting the Guadalupe River, which flows to the Bay, with toxic metals and chemicals for years. In 2013, Baykeeper secured a legal agreement that required SOS Steel to keep toxic runoff out of the river and Bay.

For their first try, we allowed the company to test a set of controls. But those efforts failed to stop the pollution.

So Baykeeper and SOS Steel determined that, before this year's rainy season, the company will install an advanced storm water treatment system. The new system will remove pollutants before any water runs off the site.

Then SOS Steel will take more water samples when it rains this winter, to make sure the water treatment system is effectively keeping pollution out of the Bay.

Read more about our work to stop toxic pollution from SOS Steel.

More plastic than fish?

Plastic trash

By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world's waters—unless we act now.

San Francisco Bay is already suffering. Baykeeper has documented large volumes of plastic trash, as well as micro- and nanoplastics, throughout the Bay and its tributaries.

Waterborne plastic is toxic. It can carry mercury, chemicals, and bacteria, and spread invasive species. Hungry animals mistake trash for food, and tiny microplastics accumulate in the tissue of wildlife.

Baykeeper is supporting new legislation to reduce plastic waste as part of our advocacy to curb plastic pollution in the Bay. AB 1080 and SB 54 would require that single-use packaging be reduced by 75%, by 2030, and that all remaining single-use packaging be recyclable or compostable.

Another bill was recently signed into law allowing Californians to take their own clean, reusable containers to restaurants and coffee shops.

You can join us to take action to address plastic pollution locally! International Coastal Cleanup Day is Saturday, September 21. Save the date to join Baykeeper for a cleanup in San Francisco.

Read more about Baykeeper's work on stopping plastic pollution.

Photo of trash collected from the Bay aboard the Baykeeper boat, including single-use plastic bottles and packaging.

Waterkeeper Warrior: Executive Director Sejal Choksi-Chugh

Sejal Choksi-Chugh

"There's a special feeling of freedom in zipping across the bay in our patrol boat with the wind in my face, the smell of salt in the air, and breathtaking skylines all around us," Baykeeper Executive Director Sejal Choksi-Chugh says in a new profile honoring her as a Waterkeeper Warrior.

As the profile describes, San Francisco Baykeeper is greatly needed. More than 500 wildlife species, from salmon to seals to shorebirds, depend on the vast wilderness of the Bay. And more than seven million people live around the Bay in one of the nation's densest urban areas. The Bay Area is also heavily industrialized: a wide range of facilities, including sewage-treatment plants, metal recyclers, and oil refineries ring the Bay.

Waterkeeper Warriors honors Sejal and San Francisco Baykeeper as one of the 20 most effective Waterkeepers across the globe.

Baykeeper zeroes in on the worst polluters, resulting in stronger pollution controls at hundreds of industrial facilities, fewer sewage spills from Bay Area cities, and less mercury contamination, which is toxic to fish and local residents.

Read more about Sejal and her many years of leadership at San Francisco Baykeeper.

Photo by Chloe Aftel

Thank you to our Bay Paraders, supporters, and volunteers!

Coal train

Thank you for making the 6th annual Bay Parade a huge success for San Francisco Bay! More than 250 swimmers, paddlers, boaters, and volunteers joined Baykeeper for this fun, exciting celebration of a protected San Francisco Bay.

The Bay Parade supports Baykeeper's work defending San Francisco Bay from the biggest threats and stopping polluters. Thank you to everyone who paraded, volunteered, fundraised, and donated!

A special thank you to our premier event sponsors: United Airlines, Levi Strauss & Co., Anchor Brewing, and the San Francisco Giants, as well as our swim organizers at the Dolphin Club.

Lucky fundraiser Steve Carlson was the winner of our grand prize from United Airlines: 2 roundtrip airline tickets.

And finally, congratulations to the 2019 Golden Rivet Award winners! Fastest Solo Swimmer goes to Suzanne Heim-Bowen and her pilot Barry Christian. The Fastest Relay Team was "Big Blue Swimmers" Anne Barberet, Anne Sasaki, Marie Sayles, and Nancy Hornor, piloted by Wendy Schuss. The 2019 Golden Rivet Top Fundraiser is Neal Powers. Congrats again!

View Baykeeper's Facebook album of 2019 Bay Parade photos.

Photo of the Bay Parade Grand Finale by Alessandro Galli

Eat Real in Oakland—for a healthy Bay

Eat Real Festival

The annual Eat Real Fest is a combination of a state fair, street-food festival, and block party in Jack London Square. This year, Eat Real Fest is also a celebration of a protected San Francisco Bay!

We're pleased that Baykeeper will be this year's Eat Real Fest non-profit beneficiary. That means you can enjoy delicious local food and drinks while supporting a healthy Bay for all.

Come join us in Oakland to eat and drink in tribute to beautiful SF Bay!

When: Saturday & Sunday, September 21-22
Where: Jack London Square, Oakland
Entry to the festival is free.

Find more info on the Eat Real website.

Meet Baykeeper's new Field Investigator

Investigating polluters in and around San Francisco Bay is a critical part of Baykeeper's work. We're thrilled to welcome an enthusiastic and experienced staffer as our new Field Investigator! An environmental scientist, Cole Burchiel recently joined the Baykeeper team to gather the evidence we need to stop polluters.Cole Burchiel

Cole patrols the Bay from the Baykeeper boat with the help of our volunteer skippers. He also investigates pollution sources on land and partners with small plane pilots and volunteer drone operators to investigate from the air. When members of the public report problems to our Pollution Hotline, Cole investigates.

As a science associate, Cole supports Baykeeper's advocacy efforts to strengthen pollution laws for the Bay. And he builds partnerships with recreational groups around the Bay and leads cleanups to protect the Bay from trash pollution.

Cole grew up in Portland, Oregon and attended Oberlin College in Ohio. When he's not out catching polluters and inspiring Bay stewardship, he likes to hike, rock climb, run, and sail.

"I'm beyond excited to be on the Baykeeper team, working in, on, around, and for San Francisco Bay," says Cole.

Photo at top by Robert Most

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Oil and coal polluters in a toxic team-up