Attorney General Bonta Announces $2.5 Million Settlement with East Oakland Metal Foundry

Tuesday, July 2, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

OAKLAND  California Attorney General Rob Bonta today announced a $2.5 million multi-party settlement with AB&I Foundry (AB&I), which manufactured cast-iron and metal pipe fittings in East Oakland. The settlement resolves two consolidated Proposition 65 lawsuits filed against AB&I and its parent company, McWane, Inc., by the environmental justice organization Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Environmental Justice. Both lawsuits alleged that AB&I unlawfully emitted hexavalent chromium — an extremely potent carcinogen — into the air without providing clear and reasonable warnings to residents, in violation of Proposition 65. As part of the $2.5 million combined settlement, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which received assistance from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, is also separately resolving nuisance odor allegations brought against AB&I for a long history of odor complaints in the community.

“I expanded our Bureau of Environmental Justice so that it could better protect low-income communities and communities of color from environmental pollution. East Oakland is one of those very communities,” said Attorney General Bonta. “While we cannot undo the harm AB&I caused, today’s settlement holds the company accountable, provides critical health services to community members, and trains local students in environmental science and advocacy strategies. I am deeply grateful to the California Air Resources Board and Communities for a Better Environment for their partnership.” 

“Collaboration with the Attorney General’s Office and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District was key in eliminating the nuisance odors from AB&I that compromised air quality in one of California’s most vulnerable communities,” said California Air Resources Board Chair Liane Randolph. “The efforts of CARB and the District's enforcement teams removed a significant source of air pollution and led to AB&I providing funding for local community projects to clean Oakland’s air and address the local impacts of air pollution.”

"Communities for a Better Environment is proud to stand alongside the Attorney General's Office and CARB in this landmark settlement, which not only seeks justice for our community but also sets a precedent for holding polluters accountable,” said Esther Goolsby, East Oakland resident and CBE Northern California Co-Director. “This settlement sends a clear message that the health and well-being of our community are of paramount importance, and any activities that harm our environment and endanger our residents will not be tolerated. We also express our appreciation to the community members, advocates, and organizations who have supported us throughout this legal process."

As part of the Proposition 65 settlement, McWane will pay a total of $1.3 million, of which half will be allocated toward supplemental environmental projects. Supplemental environmental projects offset civil penalties by sending money toward projects that address the harm caused by a defendant. The remainder of the Proposition 65 settlement will go toward civil penalties, and attorneys’ fees and costs. The following is a breakdown of the $1.3 million settlement:

  • $500,000 to Roots Community Health, which will operate mobile health clinics in Oakland that provide medical services to children with respiratory issues and unhoused community members, who are among those most directly impacted by AB&I’s emissions.
  • $150,000 to the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment’s “New Voices are Rising” program, which seeks to amplify civic participation in under-represented communities and increase young people’s commitment to environmental justice by training Oakland students to advocate for and advance important community-centered environmental improvement projects.
  • $237,336 to CBE in reimbursement of their attorneys’ fees and costs associated with this matter.
  • $281,414 to the Attorney General’s Office in civil penalties and reimbursement of attorneys’ fees and costs associated with prosecuting this matter.
  • $112,500 in civil penalties to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), the lead agency for the implementation of Proposition 65. 

McWane will also pay $1.2 million to settle nuisance odor violations with CARB. Like the California Department of Justice, CARB intends to allocate half of its settlement total to supplemental environmental projects, also involving Roots Community Health and the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment. CARB can be contacted for additional information regarding its settlement.

California’s voters passed Proposition 65 in 1986 to protect people from exposure to chemicals that cause cancer and reproductive harm. CBE alleged in its Proposition 65 lawsuit brought on December 16, 2021 that AB&I failed to warn East Oakland residents about exposure to hexavalent chromium and other chemicals at levels that exceeded regulatory limits. The California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Environmental Justice filed a separate lawsuit on February 15, 2022, alleging violations of Proposition 65’s warning requirements as well as claims for unfair business practices and harm to natural resources. The Alameda Superior Court consolidated the California Department of Justice’s lawsuit with CBE’s lawsuit. In 2022, McWane closed the AB&I facility.

East Oakland’s population is 66% Latino and 21% African American. Residents live to the north, east, and south of the foundry. Approximately 10 schools are located within a mile of the former foundry, including Acorn, Woodland, and Encompass Academy Elementary Schools, which are less than half a mile away. Numerous unhoused Californians live within a quarter mile of the foundry, including along the foundry’s fenceline. Hexavalent chromium is listed as a carcinogen and reproductive toxicant by the State of California, and requires a warning when exposures exceed a certain threshold. When hexavalent chromium is inhaled, it is 5,000 times more potent than the carcinogen benzene, and it can cause lung and other forms of cancer, as well as adverse respiratory health impacts.

A copy of the proposed stipulated consent judgment has been filed with the Court for its review and can be found here.

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