MBC Applied Environmental Sciences (MBC) was founded in 1969 as Marine Biological Consultants, Inc. in response to a growing need by industry and government for professional biologists to conduct integrated studies of the marine environment. By the late 1970s, MBC had grown to become one of the most experienced biological consulting firms on the Pacific Coast. To reflect the wider range of capabilities and services provided, the company name was changed to MBC Applied Environmental Sciences.
MBC's staff of scientists and technicians is actively engaged in a wide range of marine, estuarine, freshwater, and terrestrial studies. MBC and its staff have earned a reputation for thorough and accurate work, and high-quality products. Scientists, technical writers, and graphics illustrators collaborate on each project to present the results and conclusions in the clearest and most effective manner; technically correct and understandable to the non-specialist.
MBC is certified as a small business by the State of California and other certifying agencies.
MBC's headquarters at 3000 Red Hill Avenue, Costa Mesa, California comprises approximately 12,000 square feet of office and laboratory space, including a large taxonomy laboratory and reference museum, a graphics and data processing center, and a growing library of reference material. There are separate laboratories for toxicity testing, water chemistry, and sediment studies. In addition, there is shop and storage space for the construction and maintenance of field and laboratory equipment.
Toxicity testing facilities at MBC are centered around a 1,000 ft2 environmentally-controlled
laboratory. The facility is equipped with climate-controlled water tables that allow for
temperature-controlled environments ranging from 10 to 30ºC with an accuracy of ±1ºC. The laboratory
includes equipment to culture and maintain a variety of macroscopic and microscopic test organisms for
conducting experimental treatments.
MBC's reference library contains over 10,000 documents. MBC's reprint collection also numbers
in the thousands. References in the company library are computerized for rapid search and retrieval.
Beyond supporting our own staff, the collection is also used by State and Federal regulatory agencies
and the academic community.
Experience and Capabilities
Since its inception, MBC has conducted numerous ecological studies, biological assessments, and habitat restoration programs on the West Coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and in Alaska. These studies have resulted in the production of over 1,000 major environmental reports and have greatly enhanced the staff's knowledge of ecological relationships and of the regulatory climate in which such studies are required. Some general areas of experience are described below.
Environmental Analyses and Resource Planning: EAs, EISs, and EIRs
MBC has provided many clients with accurate and concise impact analyses in support of environmental assessments for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents. These assessments have included review of local and regional scientific studies, collection of new scientific data, establishment of the existing environmental setting, assessment of potential impacts associated with particular projects, and, as necessary, the development of mitigation measures to reduce potentially significant impacts. Studies have included the analysis of open ocean, coastal, and wetland environments and all natural-resource groups. Examples include the preparation of biological sections of the Long Beach Naval Station Reuse EIS for the U.S. Navy and an historical review and evaluation of water quality, biological status, and human health implications of the uses of Santa Monica Bay for the Southern California Association of Governments.
MBC has also conducted numerous impact analyses and developed mitigation plans for terrestrial projects in southern California. These include the development of monitoring programs for industrial cooling water ponds in the desert and the design of wildlife habitat ponds in the coastal areas. MBC personnel have assisted the acquisition of appropriate permits from State and Federal regulatory agencies, and interfaced effectively with the public on the behalf of clients.
While much of MBC's participation in impact assessment is based on existing literature and documents, the Company has long been involved in the collection of environmental data as described below.
Since 1969, MBC has performed numerous benthic biological studies on hard- and soft-bottoms from nearshore waters to deep ocean basins and canyons. Such studies have been commissioned and funded by Federal, State and local government agencies, public utilities, and private industry. Benthic studies have been conducted near sewage outfalls, thermal effluents, nuclear and conventional power plants, oil platforms, artificial reefs, and dredging and construction activities from San Diego to Alaska. Studies have also been conducted in harbors, bays, and estuaries.
Adult, Juvenile, & Larval Fish Studies
MBC scientists have conducted hundreds of studies and monitoring efforts regarding marine fishes. Adult fish sampling has been conducted in coastal, harbor, and estuarine habitats using gill nets, otter trawls, beach seines, and purse seines. Sampling gear is selected based on life history stages of the target species. Growth, feeding, and reproductive studies have been conducted on adult fish. As part of NPDES receiving water-monitoring programs, MBC currently routinely monitors fish impingement losses at 11 coastal generating stations between Ventura and San Diego Counties. MBC has established baseline population levels for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
MBC has also conducted several major ichthyoplankton studies, one for the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, which covered the entire Southern California Bight. MBC has collected adult and larval fishes from the vicinity of a crude oil spill off Huntington Beach. These studies included sampling of larval populations in coastal, harbor, and estuarine environments, using stratified sampling of the water column with surface, mid-water, and bottom nets.
MBC has been involved with Section 316(b) demonstrations in California since 1977. Scientists from MBC recently designed and conducted yearlong entrainment and impingement studies for eight coastal generating stations subject to the requirements of EPA's 316(b) Phase II regulations. MBC's 316(b) capabilities include: study design, field sampling, laboratory analysis, data analysis and modeling, analysis of potential fish protection technologies, restoration assessments, and regulatory interface. MBC also performed similar studies in southern California from 1978 through 1980. Such experience has established MBC as one of the most competent ichthyoplankton taxonomy and intake sampling groups on the West Coast.
MBC has been involved in the analysis of potential environmental impacts from seawater desalination since 2000 when new technologies revitalized interest in large-scale coastal facilities in southern California. MBC has evaluated marine resources for proposed desalination plants located in Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Carlsbad, San Diego and Baja California, Mexico. MBC also provided technical evaluation of environmental documents for a proposed plant in Monterey Bay, California.
Kelp Bed Biology
MBC has a long history of research into and monitoring of kelp beds along the California coast; this history includes restoration of kelp beds and assessments of transplant successes. Long-term projects include the monitoring of kelp beds from San Onofre to Imperial Beach, California for the San Diego Discharge Consortium, and the restoration of kelp along the Orange County and Santa Barbara County, California coastlines for the California Department of Fish and Game. The late Dr. Wheeler J. North, a world-recognized expert in kelp bed biology, was a principal of MBC.
Coastal Ecology, Wetlands & Eelgrass Restoration
MBC biologists are actively involved in the design and implementation of wetland evaluations and in salt marsh and eelgrass habitat restoration and transplant programs. These programs have involved extensive planning, field, and laboratory work as well as analyses. The restoration requirements, procedures, results and recommendations, and the impacts of restoration upon resident biota have been detailed in cooperation with National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, California Department of Fish and Game, and the California Coastal Commission. MBC has restored over one million square feet of eelgrass.
MBC assisted pro bono with the project design and conducts monitoring of rocky intertidal communities for the Orange County Tidepool Preservation Project, a partnership of community, business, educational, city, county and state organizations. Other intertidal studies have been commissioned and funded by federal, state and local government agencies, public utilities, and private industry. MBC biologists were active in the original designation of sensitive biological areas along the Newport Coast, and served on the California Department of Fish and Game's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) southern California Regional Working Group.
Marine Birds & Mammals
Most of MBC's marine baseline and monitoring studies have involved opportunistic censuses of the marine birds and mammals in the study area. Recent bird studies include a long-term nesting survey of black-crowned night herons for the Port of Long Beach and the monitoring of relocated nesting sites.
MBC has also conducted several specific studies on marine mammals, in particular the California gray whale, and the impacts of oil and gas development activities on marine mammals in southern and central California. Related studies include multi-year baseline study of gray whale migration pathways and behaviors, and an extensive review of literature on the gray whale migration and behaviors between Unimak Pass, Alaska and San Diego.
Water Quality & Physical Oceanography
MBC provides water quality monitoring and physical oceanographic services in a variety of marine, estuarine, and freshwater habitats. MBC has conducted water quality monitoring for many ocean monitoring programs and for port and harbor dredging operations. MBC has also provided technical support for numerous coastal circulation studies throughout southern California, including current measurement and modeling studies in support of ocean outfall designs for extension of the City of Los Angeles' Terminal Island Wastewater Treatment Plant outfall, extension of the City of San Diego's Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant outfall, and design of the new joint U.S./Mexico International Treatment Plant in San Diego.
MBC is certified by the California State Department of Public Health to conduct toxicity testing and has been involved in both laboratory and field toxicity testing work since 1978. Materials evaluated have included potentially hazardous wastes, cooling water effluents, complex sanitation effluents, production water, underground tank wastes and rust inhibitors, dredge spoils, drill cuttings and muds, heavy metals, and various petroleum products. Toxicity testing procedures follow those recommended by USEPA, California Department of Public Health, and Standard Methods.
MBC routinely performs various acute and chronic aquatic toxicity tests and has conducted over 7,000 studies including 96-hour acute aquatic toxicity, 20-day bioaccumulation, and 120-day chronic exposure tests. Test organisms utilized have included: fathead minnows, topsmelt, inland silversides, three-spined sticklebacks, rainbow trout, purple sea urchins, sand dollars, giant kelp, red abalone, California halibut, speckled sanddabs, shrimp, mysids, copepods, polychaetes, clams, mussels, freshwater flea, larval fathead minnows, and freshwater algae.
Vessel Sampling Support
Time sensitive sampling programs require rapid response teams for cost effective implementation. MBC provides the R/V Portunus II, a 17-foot-long Boston Whaler for harbors, bays, and estuaries. For nearshore surveys and sampling, support is provided by the R/V Kathryn M. or the R/V Poco Loco. Both vessels are trailered; 24-feet-long, diesel powered, and cruise at 20 to 24 kn. Hydraulic and electric powered winches and davits allow rapid deployment and recovery of sampling equipment. Radar, color fathometers, GPS, and plotters provide station location and tracking.
Scientific Diving Operations
In many cases the in situ observation of biological communities is preferable to remote sampling methods. MBC maintains a team of trained, diving scientists and technicians who have logged many thousands of hours underwater since 1969. Scientific diving operations at MBC are carried out under the standards of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS). A wide variety of underwater equipment is available, including still and video cameras for photodocumentation.
Technical Conference Planning & Support
MBC staff includes a unique and cost-effective conference planning team with the ability, technical expertise, and experience to plan, conduct, and report all manner of scientific meetings, seminars, workshops, and conferences. Since 1980, this team has conducted over 35 major meetings and workshops for government and private concerns including the U.S. Department of Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the American Petroleum Institute in locations such as Washington D.C., Florida, California, Washington, and Alaska.