OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today filed a lawsuit against McWane Inc., operating as AB&I, for unlawfully emitting hexavalent chromium into the surrounding community. AB&I operates a metal foundry in East Oakland that neighbors a low-income community and community of color that suffers from extremely high rates of asthma, cardiovascular disease, and other adverse health conditions linked to high levels of pollution in the area. In the complaint, Attorney General Bonta alleges that AB&I violated state laws by failing to warn the surrounding community about its emissions of toxic chemicals and the potential risks of exposure to those toxic chemicals.
“Everyone has a right to clean air where they live and where they work. It’s that simple,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Unfortunately, that’s not the reality for too many communities across our state, communities who all too often live at the intersection of poverty and pollution. It's time for a change. We're filing this lawsuit to ensure AB&I does right by the East Oakland community in which it operates and takes action to eliminate emissions of these toxic chemicals.”
The AB&I foundry operates in a densely populated East Oakland community near the Oakland Coliseum. Most residents in the community are low income, with 85% of households living under the poverty line. The community’s population is 66% Latino and 21% African American. There are homes located to the north, east, and south of the foundry. Approximately ten schools are located within a mile of the foundry, including Acorn Woodland Elementary School, at less than half a mile away. Numerous unhoused Californians live within a quarter mile of the foundry, including along the foundry’s fenceline. According to CalEnviroScreen, the nearby communities experience some of the highest pollution burdens in California, and residents' health has suffered as a result. The community has more asthma-related emergency department visits than any other census tract in the state.
Hexavalent chromium is listed as a carcinogen and reproductive toxicant by the State of California, and requires a warning if emissions exceed a certain threshold. When hexavalent chromium is inhaled, it is 5,000 times more potent than the carcinogen benzene and can cause lung and other forms of cancer. In April 2021, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District released a draft Health Risk Assessment that identified a substantial cancer risk from AB&I foundry, largely from hexavalent chromium emitted by the foundry's pipe casting machines.
In today’s complaint, Attorney General Bonta alleges that AB&I violated Proposition 65, the Unfair Competition Law, and Government Code Section 12607 by:
This is the second lawsuit filed against AB&I foundry. On December 16, 2021, Communities for a Better Environment filed a lawsuit in the Alameda Superior Court alleging violations of Proposition 65 related to AB&I's emissions of hexavalent chromium.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to fighting environmental injustices throughout California and being a voice for frontline communities hit first and worst by environmental pollution. On April 28, 2021, Attorney General Bonta announced the expansion of the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Environmental Justice. You can find more information on the Bureau and its work at: https://oag.ca.gov/environment/justice.
A copy of the complaint can be found here.