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Port of Stockton Tenants Pollute Impaired San Joaquin River
STOCKTON, California, January 26, 2009 (ENS) - The U.S. EPA has ordered four industrial tenants at the Port of Stockton to prevent chemicals and trash from polluting the stormwater running off their sites.

Two materials recycling companies, a steel products manufacturer and a power plant are required to comply with federal Clean Water Act stormwater regulations or risk potential fines of up to $32,500 per day.

Industrial materials such as fuel, oil and debris are carried by stormwater from these facilities, which discharge directly into the San Joaquin River and the Stockton Deep Water Ship Channel and also flow through municipal storm drains running to the river, which is already listed as impaired.

"Contaminants in stormwater run-off are a significant source of water pollution to the San Joaquin River," said Alexis Strauss, water division director in the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "We'll be working with the Port of Stockton and its tenants, and the Central Valley Regional Water Board, to resolve various compliance issues noted in our inspections."

The San Joaquin River is listed on the Clean Water Act 303 (d) list as impaired for elevated levels of boron, chlorpyrifos, DDT, diazinon, electrical conductivity, pesticides, selenium and mercury.

The Stockton Deep Water Ship Channel is listed as impaired for dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls.

In addition, the Lower San Joaquin River and southern portion of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is listed for low levels of dissolved oxygen. These listings are but several of many recognized water management problems on the river.

Given the concentration of industrial facilities at the Port of Stockton and their proximity to the San Joaquin River, in March 2008, the EPA and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board reviewed stormwater management practices and conducted inspections at industrial facilities at the Port.

They were seeking to determine tenants' compliance with the state's industrial stormwater permit.

Moving scrap metal at the site of the Alco Iron and Metal Company at the Port of Stockton (Photo courtesy Alco)

"We are pleased to be working with U.S. EPA to enforce the stormwater laws that protect our water resources." said Ken Landau, assistant executive officer, Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.

In March 2008, EPA inspectors conducted stormwater inspections of 25 Port of Stockton tenants in the presence of Port environmental officials.

The orders issued by the EPA Thursday require each of the four tenants to fix violations found during the March 2008 inspections, including on-the-ground corrective measures.

The EPA has issued orders to four Port of Stockton tenants:

  • A-Plus Materials Recycling, based in Stockton, is in the refuse services business.

  • Alco Iron and Metal Company, a family owned business, provides demolition, recycling, and metal fabrication services and metal sales from Stockton and two other California locations.

  • Macsteel Service Centers USA, Inc. is owned by the global steel company, Macsteel Holdings of South Africa. The company processes and distributes carbon steel, stainless and aluminum products.

  • Posdef Power Co. LP is a small power company based in Stockton
In a letter to Port of Stockton Director Richard Achieris describing the results of the compliance audit, the EPA did not lay blame on the Port. Strauss said the EPA inspectors found Port staff to be cooperative and "knowledgeable and dedicated" and said "many aspects of the Port's stormwater management program are well implemented."

Due to their close proximity to major U.S. waterways, port industries' compliance with stormwater requirements has been identified by EPA officials as an emerging national enforcement priority area.

Through its Ports initiative, the EPA's Pacific Southwest regional office is evaluating stormwater management other California ports in addition to Stockton. This effort involves both individual inspections of port tenants and audits of the municipal stormwater programs implemented by the ports.

The EPA says the initiative is intended to improve water quality by working with facilities to bring them into compliance and collaborating with states to improve stormwater permits for ports.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.

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