By Don Ford

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Some Bay Area fishermen are suing Pacific Gas & Electric, claiming the utility is responsible for massive contamination in and around Fisherman’s Wharf.

Gashouse Cove Marina got that name for a reason. In 1896, long before the Golden Gate Bridge, a large manufactured gas plant turned coal and oil into gas here. It also left behind a mess.

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Now, herring fishermen are suing PG&E, demanding they clean it up.

“The fact that it’s been causing environmental damage for the last hundred years does not mean there’s a license to do it for a hundred more,” said attorney Stuart Gross.

They claim old residue is causing harm to the fish, to the environment and to the Marina neighborhood.

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“What PG&E did was dump all of the waste from those manufactured gas plants on site essentially and in the Bay,” Gross said.

The attorney said PG&E is aware of the problem. “They’ve known about it since the 70s. They’ve been doing piecemeal and avoiding some major questions,” Gross said.

Nicole Liebelt of PG&E told KPIX 5, “In the Marina District, we have successfully investigated 23 properties and completed remediation on six.”

The utility said they are reviewing the lawsuit, but they are aware of the issues involving old manufactured gas plants in the Bay Area. “We are responsibly managing historic operations and we’ve been doing so in the San Francisco Marina District since 2010,” Liebelt said.

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A brand new fight over a century-old operation, and herring fishermen say all they want is for PG&E to clean it up.