“Water Cops” and San Diego Bay Polluters Agree to Cut Back On Clean-Up

by on January 8, 2010 · 6 comments

in Economy, Environment, Health, History, San Diego

Shipyard bay cleanup

Shipyard operators BAE Systems and General Dynamics NASSCO are among the parties on the hook for cleaning up polluted sediment in San Diego Bay. After several closed meetings with bay polluters, the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board revised its cleanup order. Photo: John Gibbins

Editor: The pollution and clean-up of San Diego Bay have been issues for decades.  It was one of the issues I pushed when I ran for City Council in 1987.  Now, it’s not really surprising that economics plays a strong role during the current Great Recession in this new agreement between our Regional Water Quality Control Board and those heavy polluters. (Frank Gormlie)

By Mike Lee / Union-Tribune / Originally published January 6, 2010

Nearly five years after regional water-pollution cops announced a landmark order to clean toxic muck in San Diego Bay, they’re back with a plan that would remove just 16 percent of the sediment targeted initially.

The latest strategy was crafted during months of confidential talks with groups on the hook for the work. It’s expected to cost about half of the $96 million price tag from the original cleanup order, which the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board spent years developing so it could withstand courtroom challenges.

Critics contend that the new approach reflects a common tactic by industry: threatening litigation and stalling costly environmental projects until new, more business-friendly regulators take office.

They also believe the revised proposal won’t take out enough mercury, lead and cancer-causing compounds that have accumulated since the early 1900s because of pollution by heavy industry, military operations and storm runoff. Scientists and community activists have long feared that the contaminants are harming marine life and endangering people who eat fish and shellfish from the bay.

“It’s obvious — the less you clean up, the less you have to pay,” said Laura Hunter, director of the Clean Bay Campaign for the Environmental Health Coalition in National City. “I am very concerned that they figured out how much they were willing to spend and out pops how much they can clean up. That is just not the right way.”

For the remainder of this article, go here.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar bodysurferbob January 9, 2010 at 8:13 pm

gormlie – you’ve been around a long time, and so has laura hunter, mentioned in the linked article, head of a group connected with the environmental health coalition on bay pollution. i think she’s been the head of that group since you ran for city council, 23 years ago. how can activists stay in the same place for so long?


avatar Molly January 9, 2010 at 9:00 pm

bodybob – so? So what if environmentalist Laura Hunter has been at the same post for 23 years. Lots of activists stay at leadership positions for lengthy times – look at the leaders of the Environmental Health Coalition, San Diego Coastkeeper, and other non-profits. People in these leader roles don’t make much money.


avatar bodysurferbob January 9, 2010 at 9:06 pm

molly, some in this sea-logged city feel that our local environmental movement is dead, or at least moribund, that the leaders in the environ groups become bureaucratic and hold onto their privileged positions just as the managers of any bureaucracy do, and in doing so stifle “hot-heads” emerging from below, people with more steam, less patience, and who maybe wouldn’t vote to allow this city to get another sewer waiver.

today, the so-called environ movement is represented by the local group now in trouble for threatening the port with a law suit if it allowed fireworks over the bay on new year’s – i mean this is what passes for environmental action?


avatar Molly January 9, 2010 at 9:09 pm

bodybob – You’re going after the eco-friendly groups here instead of the major polluters of the San Diego Bay. Why focus your sting on these under-paid activists and not on NASSCO, Gen’ l Dynamics, the Navy …


avatar bodysurferbob January 10, 2010 at 11:26 am

molly – the thing is this clean-up of SD Bay was supposed to be this big environmental victory – but as the article explains, they’re only cleaning up 16% of what they originally had agreed to clean. plus, the city went after another sewerage waiver – and the major local “green” groups supported the waiver.

(i really don’t know what the heads of these ‘green’ groups make.)

i’ll tell you what passes for ‘community organizing’ by shades of green groups: they stand in front of henry’s market or on street corners in ob and ask for money or go door to door – not to organize people – but to ask for money. this is NOT community organizing, friends!

green brothers and sisters: make no mistake – asking for $$ is not organizing anybody. lots of these groups have ads on craigslist and entice young idealists with ‘jobs’ in community organizing but all they are trained to be are money solicitors, and are ordered to plop themselves in front of ‘eco-friendly’ businesses, like henry’s, or whole foods, or even people’s food in ob and solicit money from passers-by. which in the end, derails their idealism and turns people off to the groups themselves. it’s a sorry state of affairs.

so, molly, inform me of recent green victories in san diego that we can be proud of ….


avatar Editordude January 10, 2010 at 11:27 am

bodysurferbob -Sounds like another ‘Reader Rant’ coming up?


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