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Enviros Question Future Land Use After South Bay Power Plant Is Demolished

How Much For Commercial Development Versus Wildlife Habitat In Question

Aired 11/11/11 on KPBS News.

Plans are underway to demolish the South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista, but some environmental groups are concerned about how much space will be reclaimed for natural habitat.

Plans are underway to demolish the South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista, but some environmental groups are concerned about how much space will be reclaimed for natural habitat.

The company which had operated the plant, Dynegy South Bay, has applied for a permit to dismantle the plant, which is no longer in operation.

The South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista is set to be demolished, after shutting down operations earlier this year.
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Above: The South Bay Power Plant in Chula Vista is set to be demolished, after shutting down operations earlier this year.

The plant sits on land owned by the Port of San Diego, along the Chula Vista bayfront. When it was built, a lot of natural landscape was altered.

Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation Executive Director Marco Gonzalez said there are a lot of questions about the future of the site.

"There's still a lot of discussion about what is that South Bay going to look like post-demolition," said Gonzalez. "The Chula Vista Bayfront plan kind of talks a little bit about it. We have jetties, we have an island, we have berms, you know there's still questions about how much of the South Bay area around the power plant we're going to be able to capture for environmental purposes for wetland habitat."

While there has been concern about the parent company's bankruptcy filing, Dynegy South Bay has said it will not affect its agreement with the Port of San Diego to remove and demolish the plant.

Gonzalez said there are far too many other issues to resolve before knowing the full costs of restoring the area.

Laura Hunter with the Environmental Health Coalition said while cleanup is on-going at the plant site now, she is concerned about possible contamination in San Diego Bay.

There are many parties that could be named in the event that there's cleanup necessary," said Hunter. "But it's not clear yet how much cleanup is necessary or who would be responsible for that cleanup."

Hunter said there has been no assessment yet of the sediment in the Bay near the plant, but she hopes the Port of San Diego will move soon to assess the site.

Hunter said after fighting to have the plant closed, it is satisfying to see it finally cease operation.

"From a human health and environmental perspective it is turned off," Hunter said. "So the damage to people and the damage to the bay from active operation has ended."

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