A former 7Up factory building with a large logo on the side, viewed from the parking lot. A white van is parked in front, and an industrial crane is partially visible on the left. The scene is lit by the late afternoon sun.
BBK Enterprises, a metal fabrication company located in the former 7Up factory in South Vallejo, illegally discharged industrial stormwater into the Napa River for years, according to the EPA. It is seen here on June 25, 2024. (Geoffrey King / Open Vallejo)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered two Vallejo companies to pay thousands of dollars in fines for allegedly discharging industrial stormwater into local waterways, according to the agency. 

BBK Enterprises, a metal fabrication facility, has agreed to pay a $15,000 penalty for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act on multiple occasions from 2018 to 2023, according to the EPA’s San Francisco Regional Office. The federal agency also issued a $7,500 fine against Transport Products Unlimited, a shipping container modification center, for similar alleged violations since 2010.

Spokespeople for the two companies could not be reached for comment.

A chain-link fence topped with barbed wire, featuring a 'Beware of Guard Dog' sign on the left and an instruction sign for drivers and customers on the right. The sky is partly cloudy with sunlight shining through, casting shadows on the fence.
Transport Products Unlimited in Vallejo, Calif. is seen on June 25, 2024. (Geoffrey King / Open Vallejo)

Both companies, located across from Mare Island near the banks of the Napa River, operated for years without “permit coverage,” a regulatory requirement that ensures companies prevent industrial pollutants from leaking into waterways when it rains, said Jamie Marincola, a supervisor with the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division in San Francisco.

For example, he said, industrial byproducts such as metal dust or chips can pollute nearby streams and rivers, ultimately leading to the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. 

“When it rains, all that stuff gets flushed out into the storm drains,” Marincola said. “So they need to be doing everything they can to prevent that from leaving their site.”

The top of a shipping container behind a fence covered with barbed wire. The container is partially obscured by lush green foliage and blooming flowers, with a blue sky and scattered clouds in the background.
One of numerous shipping containers at Transport Products Unlimited, as seen on June 25, 2024 in Vallejo, Calif.

The stretch of river immediately downstream of the facilities has been found in past years to be polluted with pesticides, mercury, and toxic organics, according to the State Water Resources Control Board, which tracks water quality standards. 

Transport Products Unlimited has since made structural changes to its facility to “prevent exposure of industrial activities to stormwater,” according to the EPA. BBK Enterprises has submitted an application for permit coverage.

A close-up view of shipping containers seen through a chain-link fence. The containers are partially obscured by the fence and a metal pole, with light and shadows creating a pattern on the scene.
Shipping containers are stacked high in the corporate yard of Transport Products Unlimited on June 25, 2024 in Vallejo, Calif. (Geoffrey King / Open Vallejo)

Marincola said the EPA began inspecting Vallejo facilities as part of a state partnership meant to bring environmental justice to disadvantaged areas in California. While thousands of companies do obtain mandatory stormwater permits, those without them risk heavy fines from the federal government, he said.

Marincola hopes that the agency’s enforcement actions will have an even broader impact beyond cleaning up Vallejo’s waterways. 

“If there are others who hear about this and also apply for permit coverage and start cleaning up their sites, implementing the proper controls — that’s more bang for our buck here,” he said.

Anna Bauman is an investigative reporter with Open Vallejo.