PCBs & Mercury Reduction

It is unsafe to eat certain fish & shellfish caught in the San Francisco Bay, because they have built-up toxic levels of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury.  Eating contaminated seafood can lead to health problems in humans and wildlife, including muscle weakness, brain damage, reproductive issues and even cancer.

Also known as “legacy pollutants,” PCBs and mercury were once commonly used in industrial and electrical applications, building materials, and household items.  The U.S. has banned the production of PCBs for more than 30 years, and has limited modern-day mercury pollution, but past pollution continues to linger in Bay Area soils and waters today.  Ever since the Regional Water Board found San Francisco Bay to be impaired, agencies across the Bay Area have worked together to try and reduce these pollutants.  This includes finding and stopping pollution in local watersheds.

One source of these contaminants today is urban stormwater.  To help, Santa Clara Valley municipal agencies have used innovative, effective control measures to reduce pollution at-the-source.

Read the pages in this section to learn:


Federal, State and Local Regulations

Striped bass in SF Bay (illustration from US Fish & Wildlife Service) Many agencies have taken legal and practical steps to reduce PCBs and mercury contamination: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency The Clean Air ActThe Clean Water Act 303(d) impaired waters listNational Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permit program Specific bans and restrictions on PCBs...

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Sources of PCBs and Mercury Contamination

PCBs and mercury have different histories in California, but they both pose a public health risk to people eating fish from the San Francisco Bay today.  Also known as “legacy pollutants,” these substances were once commonly used in industrial and electrical applications, building materials, and household items. PCBs Old power supply transformer containing PCBs (Photo...

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How SCVURPPP & Local Agencies are Helping

What are Santa Clara Valley municipalities and others doing to help reduce PCBs and Mercury pollution in the San Francisco Bay? SCVURPPP and municipal staff have tested stormwater control measures to see which methods work best in different urban settings.  For instance, existing public storm drain systems may be modified with devices that collect polluted...

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Managing PCBs during Demolition

Project Proponent Resources  Municipal Webpage Links  Municipal Staff Webpage (username and password required) These webpages provides SCVURPPP Co-permittees with a central repository for information related to the new program for managing PCBs during building demolition. They also provide resources for project proponents related to the new PCBs program, including links to the appropriate demolition permit webpage on...

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PCBs & Mercury Documents

DateTitleCategoriesTags
9/1/2018Stormwater Control Measures Plan for PCBs and Mercury in the Santa Clara Valley – Version 3.0 (2016-2020)Reports,
3/14/2014Integrated Monitoring Report: Part CReports,
3/14/2014Integrated Monitoring Report: Part BReports,
2/25/2011Candidate Pilot Diversion ProjectsReports,
9/15/2010Methods for Quantifying Mercury and PCB Loads Reduced From Urban Stormwater RunoffReports,
9/13/2010Draft Stormwater Pump Station Diversion Feasibility EvaluationReports,