July 13 – ‘San Diego Bay’s Dirty Little Secret’ gets exposed at Aug. 9 Signs of the Tide

San Diego Coastkeeper, Environmental Health Coalition uncover the bay’s toxicity and asks community for solutions

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SAN DIEGO (July 13, 2011) – Beauty is only skin-deep at San Diego Bay. Underneath the sparkle, the bay’s water hides toxic mud polluted by decades of industrial use and municipal runoff. On August 9 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m., find out what is hiding on the bay’s floor, when San Diego Coastkeeper, in partnership with Environmental Health Coalition, shares “San Diego Bay’s Dirty Little Secret” and its impacts on South Bay’s underserved communities that depend on the bay.

Today, even though local agencies post fish consumption advisories around San Diego Bay, anglers still fish for sustenance putting their health in serious danger. A lack of awareness of the issue poses not only high-risk health problems for the bay’s wildlife, but also for the South Bay communities.

Toxicity is not news for San Diego Bay. In 1996, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found the bay to be the second most toxic bay in the nation. Today, it is listed under the federal Clean Water Act for 20 different pollutants, including mercury, copper and zinc. Most do not know that a major source of the pollution is a legacy of inputs from the shipyards and Navy facilities along the eastern shore of the bay.  The Regional Water Quality Control Board is currently negotiating a cleanup of the contamination and San Diego Coastkeeper’s public forum will be a chance for the community to learn about the issue and share concerns about the cleanup efforts.

Some good work has already been done. In 2003, San Diego Coastkeeper, partnering with Natural Resources Defense Council, successfully sued Southwest Marine (now BAE Systems), a ship repair and maintenance facility. The facility failed to implement required measures to prevent toxins from flowing into San Diego Bay. Fortunately, after the proceedings, the shipyard was required to improve their stormwater pollution prevention practices and was liable for $799,000 due to recurring permit violations.
However, work continues. On August 9, a panel of experts will propose more solutions on removing the toxic waste and how San Diegans can be empowered to act. Among the experts, Coastkeeper will introduce:

  • A local environmental leader to introduce the toxic cleanup project and what is involved in removing the toxic materials,
  • An environmental justice advocate to address the issues South Bay and Central San Diego communities face daily and how delay in cleanup affects the neighborhoods along the bay,
  • A community activist to share personal experiences fighting for a cleaner environment,
  • A San Diego Coastkeeper staff member to propose ways the community can get involved and be counted.

The Signs of the Tide event is free and will be held at the Memorial Recreation Center at 2902 Marcy Avenue on Tuesday, August 9 at 6 p.m. Bring your hunger for knowledge and we will provide answers and snacks for you to enjoy.

To find out more about Signs of the Tide, visit Coastkeeper’s website at localhost/sdcoastkeeper.

Founded in 1995, San Diego Coastkeeper protects the region’s inland and coastal waters for the communities and wildlife that depend on them by blending education, community empowerment and advocacy. Visit us online at https://www.sdcoastkeeper.org.

Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) builds grassroots campaigns to confront the unjust consequences of toxic pollution, discriminatory land use, and unsustainable energy policies. Visit us online at http://www.environmentalhealth.org/.