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General Press Releases
Waterfront Development

Port of San Diego Approves Pilot Project to Test New Clean Water Technology

As part of its Blue Economy Incubator, the Port of San Diego has approved a new pilot project with ecoSPEARS Inc., a startup cleantech solutions company working to develop a cost-effective and eco-friendly cleanup solution to extract and destroy toxic contaminants from sediment, soil and groundwater. Under a two-year agreement with the Port, ecoSPEARS will test its remediation technology in San Diego Bay.

ecoSPEARS is the exclusive licensee of the NASA-patented SPEARS technology. SPEARS stands for Sorbent Polymer Extraction and Remediation System, which was invented by a team of NASA environmental scientists as a green remediation solution for contaminated waterways. Shaped like spikes, SPEARS filled with a proprietary solution are deployed down into contaminated sediment or around challenging or sensitive wetland areas where dredging may not be feasible. Once settled into the sediment, ecoSPEARS says the SPEARS act like sponges, passively absorbing chlorinated toxic contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins. 

Watch ecoSPEARS video here.

“ecoSPEARS is a great fit for our Blue Economy Incubator and aligns well with the Port’s vision to support commerce, community and the environment,” said Chairman Garry Bonelli, Board of Port Commissioners. “We look forward to seeing what SPEARS can do and how this technology can make a difference in San Diego Bay.” 

“We are extremely excited about our partnership with the Port of San Diego and its Blue Economy Incubator,” said ecoSPEARS CEO & Co-founder Serg Albino. “Areas like this – where traditional dredging and capping options are not as feasible – are prime candidates for our technology, and we are fortunate enough to conduct this project with some outstanding sustainability leaders in the Port of San Diego. It’s going to be really exciting to demonstrate the positive impact of adopting green technology can have on the environment and community.”

During its two-year pilot project, ecoSPEARS will deploy SPEARS at three different, to-be-determined locations in San Diego Bay. The primary goal will be to determine how much PCB mass the SPEARS technology will remove over a predetermined period.  Additionally, ecoSPEARS will also conduct a demonstration of its Additive Desorption System (ADS) for sampled dredged dewatered sediments collected during the pilot project in San Diego Bay. ADS is a chemical assisted desorption system meant to extract halogenated contamination from soils or dewatered sediments. The reagent laden with PCBs will then be processed through another of ecoSPEARS’ green remediation technology for molecular destruction, which is intended to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the remediation project as oppose to conventional transport and incineration of contaminated sediments.

Per the agreement, the Port will provide support for necessary permitting and environmental review as well as access to Port-owned locations in San Diego Bay at which to test the SPEARS technology. 

ecoSPEARS is the seventh project approved under the Port’s Blue Economy Incubator. Established in 2016, the incubator is acting as a launching pad for sustainable aquaculture and Port-related blue technology ventures by removing barriers to entrepreneurs and providing key assets and support services focused on pilot project facilitation. The goal of the program is to build a portfolio of new businesses that can deliver multiple benefits to the whole Port community such as fisheries enhancement, ecosystem restoration, water quality improvements, environmental monitoring, and education and outreach.

About THE Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego serves the people of California as a specially created district, balancing multiple uses on 34 miles along San Diego Bay spanning five cities. Collecting no tax dollars, the Port manages a diverse portfolio to generate revenues that support vital public services and amenities.

The Port champions Maritime, Waterfront Development, Public Safety, Experiences and Environment, all focused on enriching the relationship people and businesses have with our dynamic waterfront. From cargo and cruise terminals to hotels and restaurants, from marinas to museums, from 22 public parks to countless events, the Port contributes to the region’s prosperity and remarkable way of life on a daily basis.

About Port of San Diego Waterfront Development

Port of San Diego Waterfront Development contributes to the continuous prosperity of the local economy.

From Real Estate to Aquaculture and Blue Tech, the Port invests in major redevelopment and community infrastructure, so businesses in our region have the opportunity to stay competitive in the global marketplace.