Drakes Bay Oyster Company farms oysters at Point Reyes National Seashore. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Drakes Bay Oyster Company farms oysters at Point Reyes National Seashore. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The embattled Drakes Bay Oyster Company is facing a new challenge to its operations at Point Reyes National Seashore. The Sebastopol-based environmental group California River Watch says that the oyster farm is polluting the waterway known as Drakes Estero, and is threatening to sue the company.

A notice from California River Watch warning the seafood company that it intends to file suit claims that the latter has violated the Clean Water Act:

Materials from operations at the oyster shucking and shellfish packing facility
containing biological waste such as shells, shellfish parts, unwanted shellfish and other pollutants such as bleach, ammonia, other cleaning solutions, as well as packaging wastes (plastic and paper), discharge from an outfall pipe directly into Drakes Estero.

Kevin Lunny, owner of the oyster company, counters that the threatened suit amounts to a shakedown.

“There are no pollutants,” he claims. “The discharges that they’re talking about? From our shucking and packing operation? That all goes into a septic tank and into a septic system that’s pumped over the hill and disposed of under ground into a septic system. None of that meets receiving waters.”

Lunny says he’s consulting with attorneys to figure out his next steps. Meanwhile, the oyster company is embroiled in another legal fray, over whether it can continue operating at all. A federal appeals court is currently considering that case.

Embattled Oyster Farm Faces New Legal Challenge 18 July,2013Molly Samuel


Molly Samuel

Molly Samuel joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Before becoming KQED Science’s Multimedia Producer, she was a producer for Climate Watch. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She was a fellow with the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism and a journalist-in-residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Molly has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.

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