The Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood in San Francisco may be one step closer to reconciling with its history of pollution. Regulators moved to reduce industrial dust in the area last week. 

On Oct. 3, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced it had acted on two sites owned by the Martin Marietta Materials company. One site, a sand and aggregate processing plant at Pier 94, has been ordered to cease operations by Oct. 31. 

The case for the other site, an open lot with piles of raw material on Pier 92, will go before the agency’s independent hearing board. Depending on their decision, the facility could be given an abatement order and a deadline to comply with permitting requirements or else it will be barred from operating.

“These actions are one more step the Air District is taking toward strengthening air quality protections for the surrounding community.”

Philip Fine, BAAQMD executive director

“Bayview-Hunters Point has suffered the disproportionate impacts of air pollution for far too long,” said Philip Fine, executive officer of the air district. “These actions are one more step the Air District is taking toward strengthening air quality protections for the surrounding community.”

The air district has been working on permit applications for both sites since 2017, Martin Marietta said in a statement, and the applications remained pending for a variety of reasons. 

No regulatory exceptions

Kristina Chu from the air district explained that Pier 92 facility lacked permitting “due to continuous changes to the permit application.” When asked to describe those continuing changes, she explained that compliance must match requirements for city, state and federal regulations.

“The long process for determining compliance involves time-consuming analyses and modeling,” she said. “Whenever changes are made to the application, the Air District’s analyses and modeling must be redone to ensure they are accurate.”

As for cutting down on dust in the meantime, keeping the sand and aggregate wet makes an enormous difference.

“Adequately wetted materials are unlikely to result in significant emissions,” Chu said. When the agency discovered that these facilities did not meet that requirement, the two sites no longer received regulatory exceptions.

Martin Marietta said they told the district they would cease operations at Pier 94 and then replace the current Pier 92 facility with a modern, state-of-the-art facility that incorporates best practices for safety and environmental controls.

In the immediate, both sites have been ordered to comply with dust control measures, including watering stockpiles, slowing traffic and using a wheel wash station to clean truck tires between industrial sites, public parks and residential areas.