Friday, September 27, 2013

NASSCO, San Diego Port Sign Clean-Up Accord

An agreement has been reached between shipbuilding and repair company NASSCO and the Port of San Diego regarding what could eventually become the largest-ever cleanup of toxins in San Diego Bay.

Under the agreement, which was reached Sept. 18, the port has agreed to pay an undisclosed share of the cleanup project’s estimated $75 million cost.

The area around the NASSCO and BAE Systems’ shipyards is expected to be the first – and largest – of several sites to be cleaned up over the next few years, according to the accord. In all, about 140,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments is expected to be removed.

The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board directed several parties to undertake the dredging project for what it refers to as the “Shipyard Sediment Site” in a March 2012 order. They include NASSCO, BAE Systems, the City of San Diego, Campbell Industries, San Diego Gas and Electric, the US Navy and the Port of San Diego. These parties, among others, have been involved in a federal court lawsuit over responsibility for the contamination at the site and the cost to clean it up.

The Port of San Diego has agreed to pay a share of the project costs to help move the project forward and resolve the port’s involvement in the litigation relating to the cleanup at the NASSCO site.

“The Port of San Diego takes its stewardship of San Diego Bay very seriously,” Port Chair Ann Moore said in a prepared statement regarding the matter. “This agreement with NASSCO represents the port’s long-standing commitment to a clean and healthy bay, and we are excited for the work to begin.”

The cleanup operation is expected be conducted from a barge; a clamshell bucket would be lowered from a crane into the bay where it will scoop up the sediments, which would be mixed with a cement mixture before being trucked to a landfill. The work won’t begin, however, until funding from other involved parties is secured.

“NASSCO is delighted that it has now reached an agreement in principle with the Port District that would bring this historic cleanup project one step closer to implementation,” NASSCO Communications Director Sarah Strang said.

NASSCO, which leases 126 waterfront acres from the Port of San Diego, has been building and repairing ships there for more than 50 years.