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Deal To Clean Up San Diego Bay Moves Forward

Evening Edition

A 20-year debate may finally be coming to a resolution as a tentative deal is made to clean up the San Diego Bay.

Aired 9/19/13 on KPBS News.

A 20-year debate may finally be coming to a resolution as a tentative deal is made to clean up the San Diego Bay.

It's a picture perfect view looking over San Diego Bay just south of the Coronado Bay Bridge, but lurking below the surface around the shipyards is decades of toxic materials from industrial waste and urban runoff. It has also contaminated sea life in the area where fisherman are often seen.

The 20-year debate over who will be responsible for cleaning up toxic sediment from San Diego Bay is a step closer to being settled. The Port District has brokered a tentative agreement to pay a share of the dredging project that will cost $50 million.

Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos said it has been a complicated process getting those most responsible for the contamination to agree to a cleanup plan.

"We're dealing with a bay and urban environment that has been an active source of industrial operations and other activity for over a hundred years," he said.

Castellanos said NASSCO and BAE Systems have given tentative approval to spend $50 million to begin a deep cleaning or dredging of the area.

"We understand...that NASSCO is staging their equipment as we speak, so we hope that very, very soon we will have the work beginning and that it will be completed as soon as possible," he said.

Its proximity to the military base makes it one of the most commercially important areas of the bay. Cleaning it up won't solve all the problems but will go a long way toward improving the situation. NASSCO said the dredging work will begin once it secures all the funding.

It could take up to five years to complete the toxic cleanup.

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