Transcript for Oceanfloor Legacy, segment 03 of 14


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The marine geologists will begin their shallow water research in a twelve hundred square mile area west of San Francisco. They will gather information about two major problems facing the Bay area. The first problem is where to locate a disposal site for the sediment dredged from San Francisco Bay. The second is to find several thousand drums containing low-level radioactive waste that were dumped on the sea floor.

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Each year rivers and urban runoff carry an estimated sediment load of eight million cubic yards into San Francisco Bay. Sediment collects in shipping channels and in berths used by oceangoing vessels and small craft of all kinds. The commercial shipping industry is a vital connection to international markets and provides thousands of local jobs. To remain navigable, the established shipping channels need to be regularly dredged of accumulated sediment. Disposing of dredged material has been a problem in the Bay area since the early nineteen seventies.

Most of the dredged material is primarily disposed at three sites we have in the bay. The majority of that material goes to the site near Alcatraz Island. Presently we're working with thirty-two other local agencies in developing other disposal options under what we call our long-term management system.

The Bay area has a need for finding disposal sites whether it's upland, in-bay, or offshore for disposal of dredged material, and what E. P. A. is trying to do, since we do have the authority and the responsibility to designate a site offshore, is to at least fill that gap to provide the Bay area with that option of an ocean disposal site.

In order to prepare an environmental impact statement on the ocean disposal of dredged material, the Environment Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers have funded the U. S. G. S. marine geologists to explore and describe the sea floor in the designated twelve hundred square mile area.

This section of sea floor is on an incline, a part of the continental slope which descends from the shallow water depths of two hundred meters to more than thirty-five hundred meters at the ocean basin floor.