Environment

What’s next for workers, city after century-old foundry announces move to Texas?

AB&I Foundry, one of the largest industrial sources of air pollution in Oakland, announced plans last week to cease operations at its century-old plant and move to an existing facility in Tyler, Texas.  The closure, beginning in June, will cut 200 jobs and comes just weeks after two lawsuits were filed in Alameda County Superior Court accusing the company of spewing excessive levels of a carcinogen into East Oakland’s air.  “I am really scared for our community and what impact…

East Oakland foundry pollution spurs two lawsuits to protect community

The state of California and an Oakland-based environmental group are suing the pipe casting facility AB&I Foundry for reportedly emitting excessive levels of a carcinogenic chemical into East Oakland’s air.  Both lawsuits, filed in Alameda County Superior Court, accuse the foundry of violating California’s Proposition 65 — a law requiring businesses to warn people about significant exposures to harmful chemicals. The state’s lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Rob Bonta on Feb. 15, states that McWane Inc. operating as AB&I Foundry,…

West Oakland garage getting electric car-chargers for public use

Oakland is partnering with electric provider East Bay Community Energy to install 17 dual-port fast chargers, powered solely by solar and wind power, at the City Center West Garage.  The project is part of the Oakland Transportation Department’s plan to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles across the city, while tackling the health disparities in neighborhoods most plagued by air pollution. Bounded by the Port of Oakland and the interstate 580, 880 and 980 freeways, West Oakland has some of…

New filtration program is step toward cleaner air for West Oakland residents

Shortly after Brian Beveridge moved to West Oakland in 1999, he noticed a greasy layer of black soot building up on his window shades and tabletops. It wasn’t hard to figure out where it came from, with diesel trucks from nearby industries driving through the neighborhood and expelling pollution into the air that residents were breathing.  Now, over two decades later, Beveridge is co-director for the nonprofit West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, where he works to provide solutions for West…

East Oakland scraper bike program gives kids a chance to safely cycle

Beside bikes dazzling with brightly colored tape and foil, about a dozen East Oakland elementary school children excitedly, in unison, recited their ABCs:   “Air, brakes, chains.”  The kids learned the drill to check bike parts during a new six-week, after-school bike course this fall for children at Brookfield and Madison Park elementary schools. Mentors from The Scraper Team and the nonprofit Higher Ground launched the program to teach kids about bicycle safety and maintenance in a neighborhood that has very…

Planners move to restrict new housing in Oakland hills fire zone

Thirty years ago, 25 people were killed trying to escape the Oakland Tunnel Fire, which swiftly engulfed neighborhoods in the hills.  Since then, many residents have rebuilt in those neighborhoods, which remain under higher risk of fire.  In the next few months, the Oakland City Council will consider a proposal put forth by the Planning Commission that some worry doesn’t go far enough in restricting development in the hills, where narrow, winding roads still pose challenges as escape routes.  The…

‘This danger is one spark, one gust of wind, away.’ 30 years after tragic fire, Oakland better prepared but more at risk

When Sheila Davies Sumner stepped out of her house in the Oakland Hills on the morning of Oct. 20,1991, she had a sinister feeling. It was seasonally hot but there was nothing unusual about this Sunday morning, except for a blast of dry wind.  She put her Siamese cat, Algebra, in the garden, then left for work.  Oaklanders later would recall the gusts from Mount Diablo, some 30 miles to the northeast, the Diablo wind. On that day, 65 mph…

Want a lush garden that needs little watering? East Bay utility has a rebate for that.

Even in a drought, you don’t have to resign yourself to a brown lawn or a drab garden. A Bay Area utility recently started a “super rebate” program to encourage people to convert their wilted shrubbery into a lush garden of not-too-thirsty native plants.  The East Bay Municipal Utility District, which provides water and wastewater service to many communities in the East Bay, is offering customers $1.50 per square foot of converted turf lawn. The rebate comes as a credit…