Port of San Diego to test new technology to clean out waterways

SAN DIEGO – Fifty years ago, there was a race to the moon. Now, it seems the race has shifted underwater, and San Diego seems to be getting in front of the competition.

“Just like the Santa Clarita Valley came to be known as the Silicone Valley, one day the San Diego Bay will be called the blue-technology bay,” said commissioner Rafael Castellanos.

The Port of San Diego is currently working on a pro-environmental plan that aims to improve the quality of the surrounding waterways. The plan has several projects, the most recent of which involving technology forged by NASA engineers.

Commissioner Castellanos points out that industrial plants around the world have produced particles that contaminate waterways. Those contaminates are called PCBs. He said the waterway around the Coast Guard Station near the airport has PCBs in the soil as a result of airplane manufacturing. The EPA stepped in in 1979 changing the process and eliminating PCBs all together in the United States.

However, a problem still loomed underwater. NASA scientists were the first to come up with a solution to get rid of the existing PCBs. They have now partnered with a company out of Florida, ecoSPEARS, which puts a series of spikes in the ground underwater. Each about a foot in length, the spikes go into the soil and attract the PCBs. Once the spikes are full, they can be lifted out of the water and disposed of. The spikes can then be returned to the water for use again.

“This is an emerging company and we are taking a little bit of a risk, one that’s well worth it,” Castellanos said. He said not only would the company be helping to employ locals, but if the project is successful, the Port of San Diego could stand to gain a small percentage of stake in the company.

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