The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in cooperation with Oakland and Alameda Police Marine Patrols, other local, state and federal agencies, embarked this past week on a multimillion-dollar cleanup in the Oakland Estuary. Abandoned and sunken vessels, marine debris, and other navigational hazards will be removed from numerous locations along the waterway, along with toxic materials such as heavy metals and asbestos.
EPA has committed $3 million for its part of the project, which includes the removal of two massive, sunken vessels off the 2200 block of Clement Ave. CalRecycle will provide $1.3 million as part of a pilot program to clean up waterways through its solid waste cleanup program and will be partially reimbursed with a grant of $650,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Additional funding will be provided by Bay Ship and Yacht Company as part of a mitigation fund for its new dry dock. The Bay Ship and Yacht Company will contribute $75,000.
The Oakland Estuary serves as a large recreational area for competitive rowing, sailing, fishing, and other activities. The abandoned and submerged vessels, and the marine debris they create, threaten the estuary’s ecosystem and pose navigational hazards. Disintegrating vessels can also release hazardous materials such as fuel, oil, lead paint, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), and asbestos into the waterway.
Home to the Port of Oakland, the estuary is used by thousands of maritime vessels each year. The Oakland Police Department, aware of similar waterway cleanup projects undertaken recently by CalRecycle on a pilot basis, approached the state for assistance with the blighted estuary. CalRecycle, after determining the scope of the project, sought additional help from the U.S. EPA and other federal and state agencies.
In addition to the cleanup, the agencies working on the estuary project are developing an enforcement plan to deter the abandonment of derelict vessels and the indigents who sometimes take up residence on them. As a result, APD's Marine Patrol will continue to be out over the coming months to monitor the project and provide enforcement.