Berkeley Trash & Recycling Center Agrees to Protect the Bay from Toxic Runoff

Jun 9, 2016

The City of Berkeley Transfer Station and Recycling Center recently agreed to keep contaminated rainwater from running off its site and into storm drains that empty into San Francisco Bay.

Facilities like the City of Berkeley Transfer Station and Recycling Center are critical to reducing waste in landfills. The facility’s agreement with Baykeeper will ensure that it can fulfill its valuable role without contaminating the Bay.

The facility, located on Gilman Street near Interstate 80, processes trash for transfer to a landfill, compostable materials, and recyclable materials, including paper, metal, glass, construction debris, and electronics. The waste transfer station is operated by Berkeley’s city government, with the site’s recycling center operated under contract by Community Conservation Centers, Inc. 

Baykeeper sued the facility under the Clean Water Act because for five years, rainwater running off the property was contaminated with a long list of pollutants, including aluminum, copper, iron, lead, zinc, excess acid, oil and grease. All of these pollutants can be harmful to Bay wildlife.

Berkeley’s city government and Community Conservation Centers cooperated with Baykeeper to find solutions to the site’s pollution problems. A legally-binding agreement requires the operators to keep the site cleaner and repair cracked pavement. Compostable materials sorting has been moved indoors. Around the plastic and glass sorting areas, facility operators will install concrete berms and trench drains to capture the most contaminated storm water. The water will then be discharged to the sewer system for processing at an East Bay wastewater treatment plant. A cover will be installed over the area where the public brings in cans and bottles, to minimize rainwater exposure.

If these measures aren’t enough to reduce pollution from the site in future rainy seasons, Baykeeper will require further pollution controls.

To partly make up for past pollution, the city of Berkeley will provide funds to the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, to support projects that benefit San Francisco Bay.

This agreement is the 34th victory in Baykeeper’s Bay-Safe Industry Campaign. The campaign targets the widespread problem of heavily polluted storm water runoff that flows into San Francisco Bay from Bay Area industrial facilities.

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