Lawsuit seeks to clean up bay

The Port District is called to account for years of neglect and abrogation of duty.

by Catherine Strohlein
e often want to know - what else can the public do? What can I do? The law provides that if a governmental agency does not enforce regulations, private citizens may bring suit to enforce the law. It would be nice if everyone just did the right thing and cleaned up their acts, but time and time again, you find that it's legal or legislative actions that are required to improve environmental practices.

In mid-June, believing that the federal Environmental Protection Agency would never act against the Port of San Diego, Environmental Advocates and Save Our Bay, Inc. sued in Federal court charging violations of the Clean Water Act and its implementing regulations. It demands a permanent injunction which would order the Port to install control techniques and adopt other necessary procedures to prevent continued dumping of pollutants. It also wants the federal government to order the Port to restore the bay where it is affected by its discharge of pollutants; to comply with all orders, notices of violations, permit limitations, etc.; and any other terms and conditions the court may impose to ensure the Port's compliance with the Clean Water Act, permits, and so on. The suit demands that the court order civil penalties of $25,000 per day for each violation of the Act and regulations, plus costs of litigation.

This is the second suit seeking to compel the Port to hold up it public obligations. A state court suit began in June 1996. That action charges that the Port:

The state suit trial begins on July 18.

EA/SOBI's attorneys are acting pro bono. That is, they will not collect fees unless the court awards them. Witnesses, too, will testify without charging. EA and SOBI are actively fund-raising to pay witnesses' travel and deposition costs. Contributions may be sent to Environmental Advocates, c/o Catherine Strohlein, 3559 Jewell Street, San Diego 92109;