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Environment

Insurance Companies To Pick Up San Diego's $15M Tab To Clean Bay

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The City Council on Tuesday gave final approval to an arrangement with insurance carriers to cover the city's $15 million share of the cost of cleaning up contaminants in San Diego Bay sediment.

In 2012, the the Regional Water Quality Control Board ordered a $75 million remediation, with the costs to be shared by the city, the Navy, other public agencies and the area's shipyards.

According to the City Attorney's Office, 16 insurance companies will pick up the city's tab. City Attorney Jan Goldsmith called the arrangement "a big victory" for the environment and taxpayers.

"The pollution in this part of San Diego Bay dates back one hundred years," Goldsmith said. "The city did the right thing by cooperating with the Regional Water Quality Control Board and other parties to make sure cleanup began quickly as expected, and it did the right thing again by not settling any lawsuits until the insurance carriers agreed to pay every cent."

The city was involved in the case partly because it was responsible for the bay tidelands prior to 1962, when control was shifted to the Port of San Diego, according to the City Attorney's Office. Storm water pollution carried into the bay by Chollas Creek and the storm drain system was also a city responsibility.

The dredging work to clean the bay has been underway for some time now, and is scheduled to be completed early next year.