Shipyards Cleanup

fisherman san diego bayPhoto Jackie LozaAfter decades of studies, plans, negotiations, expert reports, technical reports, legal posturing, and public hearings, on March 14, 2012, the Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered the San Diego Bay Shipyards cleanup. Under the order, National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, BAE Systems and Ship Repair, Inc., the City of San Diego, the United States Navy, San Diego Gas & Electric, Campbell Industries, and San Diego Unified Port District must clean up legacy pollution from years of allowing toxic heavy metals to build up in the soil at the bottom of the bay.

The order gives the responsible parties five years to remove and safely dispose of the contaminated soil, reducing the environmental and public health threat currently found in the bay floor around the shipyards. Because the endangered lease tern relies on San Diego Bay during its nesting season, the cleanup dredging operations can only occur between September 15 and March 31 each year. The shipyards plan to dredge around the clock when they can dredge, but they will follow limits on the hours that trucks can leave the cleanup site to reduce disruption to the surrounding san diego bay cleanupPhoto Lighthawk and Matthew Meier Photographycommunity. This cleanup is a critical step toward healing our bay so that families can once again safely eat fish from the bay.

San Diego Coastkeeper worked tirelessly to get the cleanup order adopted and to make sure the responsible parties conduct the cleanup in a way that protects the environment and the local community. We recognize the importance for the community to know about the cleanup and its progress and recommend these ways to stay informed on progress:

Check out the cleanup webpage. It contains good information about the cleanup, including information about the route trucks carrying the dredged dirt will take to the highway and a contact page where you can leave a message or get on the mailing list or e-mail list. Information on the website is in both English and Spanish.

      • E-mail the cleanup organizers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . You can ask to be on their email list or mailing list. You can also send questions or concerns to that e-mail.
      • Call the cleanup hotline at (855) 817-4397. It contains a cleanup update message in both English and Spanish and allows you to leave a message.
      • Attend a public meeting about the cleanup. They will be scheduled periodically throughout the cleanup to keep neighbors informed.
      • Watch our blog. We will post notable updates on the cleanup.

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Fixable Facts

  • San Diego Coastkeeper's efforts have helped to reduce the number of sewage spills by 90% since 2001.
  • San Diego Coastkeeper and the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation conduct twice-monthly beach cleanups. We work with more than 4,000 volunteers each year.
  • In 2008 and 2009, Coastkeeper and our north county partners successfully advocated for significant fines (totaling $2 million) for spills in Buena Vista Lagoon and Escondido Creek.
  • It's in order: reduce, reuse THEN recycle.
  • Each year Coastkeeper brings together nearly 5,000 cleanup volunteers to remove more than 7,000 pounds of trash.
  • San Diego Coastkeeper has trained over 700 volunteer water quality monitors.
  • A "consent decree" is a legal tool that provides an enforceable timeline and milestones for pollution cleanup and prevention.
  • Coastkeeper volunteers removed over 560 pounds of trash from Mission Bay on a single morning in October 2013.
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