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Project: The Mothball Fleet in Suisun Bay
Toward Job Development & Preventing Future Bay Contamination
Since the middle of the nineteenth Century, the U.S. Navy and Maritime Administration have stored surplus vessels in the calm inland waters of Suisun Bay. Today there are more than 150 Maritime Administration obsolete freight and Navy obsolete war ships moored in tight rows of ten stretching over 500 acres of Suisun Bay.
The rationale for the "mothball" fleet was to maintain a supply of large capitol ships that, if necessary, could be pressed into service to convoy goods and supplies to troops overseas. Today, these vessels are ticking environmental time bombs. None of the vessels are in working order, many are no longer sea worthy, and ten are in such poor physical condition that they are expected to sink in place if repairs or scrapping does not occur rapidly. Many of these vessels still have bunker oil, diesel fuel, and other petroleum products in their fuel and storage tanks. If allowed to sink, the leaking oil from these vessels could create an environmental disaster for the Bay and the Delta.
In 1994, Arc Ecology and the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency collaborated on the design of a ship-scrapping program at the Hunters Point Shipyard. Arc was contracted to provide the business and environmental blue print for the project, which was to become a national model for environmental cleanup in one place and creating jobs in the process in another area. Arc Ecology’s main objective was two fold: to develop a cost-effective, environmentally compliant ship dismantling program in the Bay Area, and to simultaneously provide a minimum of 200 jobs to the residents in Hunters Point Bayview who have existing shipyard experience.
Since that time, some of these vessels have become so deteriorated that their water level hulls will need to be wrapped in a neoprene so they can be removed without leaking petroleum by-products, which posing a threat of environmental disaster to the San Francisco Bay.
Arc Ecology is seeking support to revise the ship scrapping project plan and to evaluate the environmental threats posed by these vessels.
Some of Arc Ecology's regional partners and collaborators have included Center for Economic Conversion, Clean Water Fund, Communities for a Better Environment, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Golden Gate University Environmental Law and Justice Clinic, Public Trust Group, San Francisco BayKeeper/ Waterkeepers Northern California, Sierra Club Bay Chapter, and the University of San Francisco Urban Habitat Project.
1331 Evans Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94124
ph: 415.643.1190 | fax: 415.643.4779 | info at arcecology.org