Oakland A's file lawsuit over alleged pollution at facility near Howard Terminal, proposed ballpark site

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Thursday, August 6, 2020
Oakland A's file lawsuit over alleged pollution near proposed ballpark site
Oakland Athletics President Dave Kaval announced a lawsuit was filed against California's Department of Toxic Substances Control over alleged pollution at Schnitzer Steel's metal shredding facility next to their proposed baseball site at Howard Terminal.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Oakland A's are heading to court as they try to build their new ballpark near Jack London Square. On Wednesday, Oakland Athletics President Dave Kaval announced a lawsuit was filed against California's Department of Toxic Substances Control over alleged pollution at Schnitzer Steel's metal shredding facility next to the Howard Terminal.

In a series of tweets, Kaval announced, the lawsuit in pursuit of not only a new ballpark but also for clean air and water.

"This morning, the A's filed a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court against the @CaliforniaDTSC for their failure to impose & enforce environmental law in West Oakland against #SchnitzerSteel, the largest metal shredding facility in the state."

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The facility sits less than a mile away from 23,000 West Oakland Residents and Kaval says it is a concern mentioned in the suit that the facility produces materials which exceed the toxicity thresholds for hazardous waste.

In the suit, the A's say there have been six fires in the past 11 years and five of them since 2018.

"Hazardous materials are supposed to be tightly regulated. Long ago, CA passed tough rules on the handling of hazardous waste to protect communities. @CaliforniaDTSC has exempted Schnitzer from having to comply fully with the law for 30 years. This is a regulatory failure," Kaval said.

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"We want our ballpark project to be a catalyst for environmental justice in West Oakland," Kaval tweeted. "We'll fight this fight regardless of what happens with the ballpark. This is bigger than baseball."

ABC7 News reached out to Shnitzer Steel about the lawsuit, they sent a statement saying:

"The Oakland A's' attack on the Department of Toxic Substances Control and Schnitzer Steel is nothing more than an acceleration of the A's efforts to dismantle the Port of Oakland to make room for their waterfront stadium and luxury housing development. The men and women that work at the Port have been clear that the A's plan is incompatible with their work and will put at risk many of the last high-paying, blue collar jobs held by local Black residents in Oakland.

Suing the state agency that regulates industrial businesses is an attempt by the A's to distract from the lack of information and accountability they have demonstrated in their planning for a commercial real estate development at the working waterfront.

As a recycler that has been serving the Oakland community for over 50 years, we are committed to reducing emissions, saving water, conserving energy, and reducing landfill usage. We invest significantly in raising the industry standard for safety and sustainability, including more than $30 million in industry-leading emission control and other environmental projects at our Oakland facility."

Mike Jacob, a key member of the port community and the East Oakland Stadium Alliance released a statement which reads:

"This aggressive action by the A's proves what we have been afraid of this whole time: they are intending to shut-down and push back on the current operations of Oakland's working waterfront. It proves that the obvious incompatible land uses of putting new housing, offices, and baseball fans right next to our heavy industrial maritime uses pose the very real and direct threat of potentially shutting down existing operations at the Port.

We have seen this play out countless times up and down the coast - developers trying to push out industrial jobs in exchange for housing and tourist and entertainment venues - and we've already let it happen in San Francisco. We have to fight to make sure that this doesn't happen again in Oakland and that we don't lose blue-collar longshore jobs only to potentially replace some of them with Pier 39 jobs."