Baykeeper's E-newsletter November 2017

The Cosco Busan oil spill 10 years later, a new Bay-Safe industry win, kitchen tips for a healthy Bay & more

San Francisco Baykeeper E-News
Monthly Update for November 2017
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Toxic ash from North Bay fires poses a threat to the Bay

Fire Ash

The devastating wildfires that swept through Napa and Sonoma have caused unprecedented damage to families, homes, and businesses. Unfortunately, the disaster also poses a new threat in the form of toxic ash washing into rivers and creeks that drain to the Bay.

More than 8,000 residential homes were destroyed by the wildfires. Many of these buildings contained potentially toxic substances, like solvents, cleaning supplies, and pesticides. Older homes might also be contaminated with asbestos and lead. These materials were incinerated during the fires and mixed with fire-fighting chemicals to create toxic ash.

As winter rains begin in earnest, and rain water flows through charred sites, this ash will wash into storm drains and rivers that flow into San Pablo Bay in the northern part of San Francisco Bay.

Contaminated ash from the fires will potentially affect wildlife and nearby shoreline communities. The threat is particularly high for creatures living in the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which lies at the confluence of North Bay tributaries and San Pablo Bay.

Baykeeper will continue to monitor impacts to the Bay from toxic ash runoff.

Read more about the environmental threats of toxic ash.

Photo by the California National Guard, Flickr/CC

Cosco Busan oil spill 10 years later

Cosco Busan

Ten years ago, in November 2007, the Cosco Busan container ship ran into the Bay Bridge and spilled more than 53,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay.

Initially, the amount spilled was vastly underestimated, so response equipment was slow to arrive. The oil spread, eventually killing more than 6,500 birds, along with much of the year's herring eggs and many small creatures at the base of the Bay's food chain. Fifty oiled beaches and shoreline parks were closed to the public, some for longer than a month.

It was a stark lesson in the need to improve oil spill response for San Francisco Bay. Baykeeper took a lead role in helping to assess the aftermath and identify the most critical changes needed.

We then successfully helped write and pass nine new state laws mandating important improvements in response and cleanup of oil spills. And ever since, Baykeeper has worked closely with local officials and government oil spill response agencies to keep the Bay better protected from oil pollution.

Ten years after Cosco Busan, Baykeeper remains determined that the Bay's wildlife and shorelines will have the strongest protections to reduce the risk of oil spills, and the most effective cleanup possible when spills occur.

Learn more about the Cosco Busan oil spill and protections Baykeeper helped secure for the Bay.

40th victory for cleaning up toxic industrial runoff

Islais Creek-Matt Baume

In the 40th victory for Baykeeper's Bay-Safe Industry Campaign, another industrial facility has agreed to prevent polluted rainwater from running into San Francisco Bay.

Darling Ingredients operates a food by-product recycling plant along San Francisco's eastern shoreline. The company converts used cooking oil and animal parts into ingredients for feed, fuel, and fertilizer.

Rainwater washes pollution off Darling Ingredients' site and into storm drains that empty directly into Islais Creek, which connects to the Bay. Baykeeper's investigation uncovered that runoff from the site was contaminated with numerous pollutants, including oil, heavy metals, and nitrate at levels high enough to harm fish and wildlife.

To keep these pollutants in check, Baykeeper secured a legally-binding agreement requiring Darling Ingredients to clean its site and filter pollutants out of runoff before it flows to the Bay.

Read more about Baykeeper's 40th Bay-Safe Industry agreement.

Photo of Islais Creek by Matt Baume, Flickr/CC

Meet longtime Bay swimmer Mimi Osborne

Mimi Osborne

"I loved it beyond anything I had anticipated," says Mimi Osborne about the day in 1979 when she started swimming in San Francisco Bay. "To be in water that has its own motion, and its own wildlife, is wonderful."

She's been swimming in the Bay ever since. Five mornings a week, she's in the water at Aquatic Park. "And every morning, it's a feeling of renewal."

"Bay swimming changed my life," says Mimi. "It turned me into a very active person. It's good for my body, and good for my mind. When I was widowed, I was surprised by how much comfort it is."

Over the years, Mimi has seen a lot of changes. During the 1960s, there was a sign on the Aquatic Park municipal pier that said, "Please throw trash overboard."

Since then, she's seen a big decrease in trash and sewage pollution in the Bay. "The Bay looks better, and the water clarity has improved," she says.

Mimi believes that Baykeeper has been a major part of this improvement. "Baykeeper has done a good job of getting at pollution at its source. They were the first group monitoring on an ongoing basis. And Baykeeper had a good sense of where to look and where scofflaws might be who would illegally release toxic stuff into the Bay."

An architect by training, Mimi now works as a botanical illustrator. Her illustrations have appeared in Bay Nature magazine, the Bay Trail Guide, and in numerous books and websites. She has also donated paintings to the auction at Baykeeper's annual dinner.

In the future, Mimi would like to see more beaches around the Bay for swimming access. She'd also like to see more facilities along those beaches like the Dolphin Club, where she is a member, with services such as lockers and showers. "It would be nice if people could get into the water at more places," she says, "because today, the Bay is clean enough to swim in."

Photo by

Thanksgiving kitchen tips for a healthy Bay

Golden Gate

Did you know that simple changes in your kitchen cleanup can help protect San Francisco Bay?

Rich holiday meals usually leave extra oils and grease on dishes, pots, and pans. And when these fatty byproducts get washed down the drain, they harden in sewer pipes. This causes clogs and sewer system backups, which can lead to sewage spills onto city streets and into the Bay.

To prevent sewage overflows, you can dispose of small quantities of fats (including leftover gravy and salad dressing) into your compost or trash bin. Drop off larger quantities, like from a deep fat fryer, at your local cooking oil recycling spot. Just don't pour fats down the drain!

The London sewer system serves as a cautionary tale. A 140-ton fatty blockage—roughly the size of a blue whale and known as the Thames "fatberg"—recently took an eight-person crew nine weeks to dislodge.

Let's do right by the Bay and prevent a local fatberg!

Read more about kitchen cleanup and where to drop off used cooking oil in the Bay Area.

Photo by Roberto Soncin Gerometta

Big news from Baykeeper this Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday Harbor Seal

Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, was established several years ago as a restorative antidote to the explosive consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It has since grown into a global phenomenon—a chance to switch gears away from consuming to giving back to worthy causes.

For this year's Giving Tuesday on November 28, Baykeeper will unveil some big news—an exciting new program that combines technology with our long-standing pollution patrols in the Baykeeper boat. (Hint: if you read our print newsletter, you may already have a clue about the surprise). This program will give a tremendous boost to our ability to make the Bay safer and healthier.

Look for more details on Giving Tuesday, November 28!

Photo by Joan Robins

Sports Basement special for Baykeeper supporters on 12/07

Support a healthy San Francisco Bay and get 20% off at Sports Basement on Thursday, December 7!

It's the annual Baykeeper Basementeer shopping day at all Sports Basement locations in the Bay Area. You get 20% off outdoor gear and sporting goods, and 10% of your purchase goes to Baykeeper's work to keep San Francisco Bay healthy and thriving.

If you're not already a Basementeer, sign up today and select San Francisco Baykeeper as your nonprofit beneficiary. If you can't make it to the store on December 7, you'll still get a 10% discount year-round. Sign up at any store or online.

Sports Basement

Save the date: the 2018 Bay Parade is July 15!

Bay Parade 2018

Mark your calendar now for the year's most fun celebration of San Francisco Bay! On Sunday, July 15, 2018, swimmers, kayakers, SUPers, and boaters will come together on the water to celebrate a Bay that's safe and healthy for recreation and wildlife.

The grand Bay Parade finale will be broadcast live from McCovey Cove on the San Francisco Giants Jumbotron. Festivities will continue on-shore at the Bay Parade after party.

Registration will open in 2018 at Stay tuned for more details!

Looking for a unique sponsorship or employee engagement opportunity for your company? Contact for more information.

Photo by Drew Bird Photo

Photo at top by Roberto Soncin Gerometta

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Toxic ash from North Bay fires poses a threat to the Bay