Volunteer Investigators Help Baykeeper Find Industrial Polluters

Aug 12, 2013

Baykeeper’s Volunteer Pollution Investigators are helping us find out which industrial facilities are polluting San Francisco Bay. After completing their training last month, volunteers are out surveying the edges of industrial sites. They’re taking photos and looking for indications that pollution is being washed off the site and into the Bay when rain falls. 

Indications that pollution is possible could include dust and liquids visibly accumulating on the property, machinery and toxic waste stored outdoors, grimy tire tracks, and more. Volunteers also look to see whether water running off the site is likely to flow into storm drains that empty into the Bay or a tributary of the Bay, without any filtering or treatment.

If volunteers find indications of runoff pollution, staff members or volunteers will return to the site later, during rain, to collect samples of runoff. We’ll have those samples tested at a certified laboratory. If we find illegal pollution, we’ll take legal action to stop it.

Evidence gathered by last year’s team of volunteer investigators helped Baykeeper file Clean Water Act lawsuits against three of San Francisco Bay’s significant industrial polluters. Two companies have already agreed to a cleanup and are installing new pollution controls to protect the Bay during the coming rainy season.

This investigation effort is a key part of Baykeeper’s Bay-Safe Industry campaign . The campaign targets widespread, illegal runoff that flows into San Francisco Bay from most of the Bay Area’s 1,300 industrial facilities. In addition to legal action against facilities found to be significantly polluting the Bay, the campaign includes outreach and education to industrial facilities, and advocacy to strengthen controls on industrial storm water.

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