SF Baykeeper Sues Water-Discharging Businesses

On Thursday, plaintiff San Francisco Baykeeper filed suit against Amports, Inc APS West Coast, Benicia Port Terminal Company, and Valero Refining Company in the Northern District of California. San Francisco Baykeeper is claiming that the defendants have unlawfully discharged pollutants into public waters.

The defendants, according to the complaint, are a group of corporations that conduct business in the automotive processing industry, while the plaintiff is a nonprofit organization “whose main focus is to hold polluters and government agencies accountable to create healthier communities and help wildlife thrive”

The complaint states that the defendants have “directly discharge petroleum coke into the Carquinez Strait at the Port of Benicia and that Defendants do so without a valid permit under the Clean Water Act and in violation of California law.”

The plaintiff is claiming that the defendants have gone out and discharged harmful toxins in the Port of Benicia through several means. Some of these means have been through “the washing of petcoke and pollutants off the deck of the ship and other loading-related equipment, directly into the Bay,” as well as the direct “aerial deposition of particulate matter into the water from Amports’ conveyance system and operations.”

According to the plaintiff the substance that the defendants have allegedly been discharging, known as Petroleum coke, or petcoke is a harmful byproduct of petroleum refining. Some of the properties that Petcoke contains are heavy metals such as copper, zinc, nickel arsenic, and mercury. This substance is being claimed to be “a harmful and deleterious to aquatic ecosystems, animal and plant species in and around waters, and poses risks to human health”.

Other allegations that the plaintiff is asserting is that the substance Petcoke makes its way into the public waters of the Carquinez Strait where the defendants do not have the proper authorization to work in. 

Ultimately, the defendant is facing 10 counts, including NPDES permit violations, Clean Water Act violations, and violation of unfair competition law.

The Plaintiff is being represented by Schute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP