The Pollution Problem

THE PROBLEM

The East Bay air is noxious and toxic. The pollution from the freeway, railroad, and various local industries combines with emissions from Pacific Steel Casting Company (PSC) to cumulatively impact West Berkeley and surrounding communities.

THE SOLUTION

When we join together as allies of the West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Air and Safe Jobs, we can preserve safe jobs and reduce the toxic airborne emissions from PSC. Much remains to be done, but the community has made substantial strides toward achieving clean air and safe jobs over the past decades:

Thousands of Complaints

Due to community organizing, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) hearing board issued an unconditional order of abatement, forcing PSC to install carbon adsorption filters and bag houses.

Despite the complaint process that serves industry more than the public, the BAAQMD received so many community complaints each time we smelled the pollution that the BAAQMD finally reexamined the facts and determined PSC had to begin a health risk assessment.

Community Air Testing

Alliance community volunteers began the first independent community air testing around PSC, challenging the BAAQMD and others to do further testing to confirm the findings of toxic pollution.

Procuring City Support for Cleanup

Maintaining a frequent presence at meetings of the city of Berkeley’s community environmental advisory commission and city council, the Alliance insured that the council would vote for a resolution proposed by the advisory commission to address PSC pollution.

Regulators Pressured to File Lawsuit

After the Alliance repeatedly told the board of directors of the BAAQMD that they must regulate pollution better, the BAAQMD eventually filed suit against PSC for missing deadlines for the implementation of pollution controls.

March Against Pollution

The Alliance was instrumental in orchestrating a community march around PSC to demand clean air. The media scrutinized PSC and the pressure for cleanup escalated.

Supporting Legal Victory

Providing information and testimony to support a lawsuit by Communities for a Better Environment, the Alliance insured that PSC would begin cleanup. With such a strong case against it, PSC decided to concede in a settlement that it would no longer accept toxics-encrusted scrap metal, it would keep better records to avoid covering up pollution, and it would spend $350,000 on cleanup and let community experts tour the facility to check on progress.

Mobile Air Monitor

The BAAQMD was pressured by community allies to monitor air in West Berkeley, although it’s a shame that the monitoring is not being conducted in the projected plume directly adjacent to PSC.

March for Dignity

When over 200 of PSC’s workers were fired due to an ICE audit, Alliance members supported union workers and their families by joining in a march for dignity and urging the Berkeley city council to request that ICE desist.

Demanding Strong Regulation

The Alliance submitted comprehensive comments critiquing the BAAQMD’s first ever metal melting rule in order to fight the weakened second revision that industry and BAAQMD staff promoted.