Berkeley Environmental Law Clinic represents environmental justice group in lawsuit

UC Berkeley Law’s Environmental Law Clinic is representing Communities for a Better Environment, or CBE, in a lawsuit against the AB&I Foundry in East Oakland and the area’s Air Quality Management District of the bay, or BAAQMD.

The lawsuit alleges that AB&I’s air pollution combined with BAAQMD’s failure to regulate has resulted in cancer risk and other health issues for East Oakland residents.

“What’s causing the cases is the community’s long-standing dissatisfaction with BAAQMD not listening to the community,” said Steve Castleman, clinical supervising attorney for the Law Clinic. Berkeley environment. “This is a long-standing issue with particularly low-income and minority communities like those around AB&I in East Oakland.”

Castleman noted that the Environmental Law Clinic is pro bono, or free, working almost exclusively on environmental justice cases like this.

According to the litigation, the toxic odors significantly affected the surrounding community of more than 50,000 people living within a one-mile radius of AB&I as well as thousands more who live outside that radius.

Castleman noted that the community surrounding AB&I includes many young children, and having to breathe polluted air for another six years will affect their health as well as the rest of the community.

“I’m so sick of AB&I getting away with polluting the community and causing a nuisance with the toxic smells they emit,” East Oakland resident Jasmine Gonzalez said in a press release from the October 25 from the Law Clinic and the CBE.

According to a statement on behalf of AB&I Foundry, they have ceased manufacturing operations at the East Oakland plant and plan to vacate the property by the end of January 2023.

Kristina Chu, communications manager at BAAQMD, noted that pressure from the air district, other government agencies and CBE led to the closure of the AB&I facility.. She added that the Air District co-hosted a public workshop with CBE as part of an extensive outreach process.

“Air District is overseeing the site closure and cleanup process to ensure all air quality regulations are met during the facility’s closure,” Chu said in an email.

Despite the shutdown, litigation is expected to move forward, Castleman said.

According to Tyler Earl, a CBE attorney, BAAQMD failed to consult the public and extended the deadline for AB&I and other polluters to comply with the 11-18 rule by six years.

This rule, Earl noted, was adopted by the BAAQMD and is intended to reduce public health risks from industrial polluters in the area. According to the litigation, the rule sets regulatory thresholds for health risks called “risk action levels.”

Earl added that they hope the lawsuit enforces the implementation of this rule which incorporates required input from residents and protects communities from toxic pollution.

“This case is significant because it represents the culmination of more than a decade of community organizing and environmental justice action against AB&I’s pollution and against BAAQMD’s unwillingness to act,” Earl said in a statement. E-mail. “It demonstrates the power of the community to stand up and fight back when regulators tasked with protecting their health are instead protecting the wallets of polluters.”

About Michael S. Montanez

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