News Briefs

PG&E Sued Over Century-Old Marina Contamination

A suit filed in U.S. District Court this fall alleges that PG&E has failed to address contamination in the Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf, and elsewhere caused by the operation of PG&E manufactured gas plants (MGPs) in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Marina resident Dan Clarke teamed up with the San Francisco Herring Association — a small group of local commercial fishermen — to file the suit, arguing that certain residues from the gas manufacturing process are toxic, particularly to herring. They allege that PG&E has not lived up to its legal responsibilities to clean up the dangerous byproducts of gas manufacturing.

“This case seeks something very simple — to make PG&E clean up its mess,” said Stuart G. Gross of Gross Law, which is representing the plaintiffs.

Manufactured gas plants used coal and oil to produce gas for residential uses such as lighting and heating. In a report on the practice, PG&E notes that “MGPs produced a variety of byproducts, some of which were useful and marketable, such as coal tar and lampblack. The byproducts that could not be sold were removed for disposal or remained at the MGP site. Most of the sites in PG&E’s service area were closed and dismantled more than 75 years ago.”

PG&E started a voluntary effort to test for residues from the manufactured gas plants in the city in 2010 and has so far tested 23 properties and finished remediation of six, according to the San Francisco Examiner. A company spokesman told the paper that PG&E has been and continues to be engaged with Marina residents on the issue.

Read more from PG&E on manufactured gas plants and their environmental effects at Gross Law explains the case it filed at

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