The A's announced Wednesday the filing of a lawsuit against the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, citing a "failure to impose and enforce environmental law" in West Oakland against Schnitzer Steel.
A's president Dave Kaval joined the television broadcast of Oakland's game against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night and discussed the lawsuit.
"It's a big deal for environmental justice in West Oakland," Kaval said. "We filed a lawsuit against the Department of Toxic Substances Control and it's really for their enforcement of environmental laws against Schnitzer Steel, a company down there on the waterfront that isn't really following the laws. So this is an important step. It shows our commitment to Oakland and to environmental justice, and we're really happy to take that step today."
"We found this when we were doing the research for the ballpark, and we met with the regulators about 18 months ago and they didn't really take any action," Kaval continued. "And I think what we've seen here is a situation where this part of the city and even Oakland in general has been kind of disregarded, and we are an important organization in business and we want to do what we can to advance these efforts and really make a difference. So that's why we took the action today. We're hopeful that DTSC is going to enforce the law and Schnitzer is going to comply with the law, and we're going to end up with better air quality and a better situation for Oakland residents.
"That's our primary purpose. We're a half-mile downwind of the location with our office -- 300 employees -- so it matters for our employees, too."
Schnitzer Steel's operations are located along the waterfront next to Howard Terminal, and the company has opposed the A's plans to build a new ballpark at that site. The company was part of a group that filed a lawsuit against the project back in March, in which the plaintiffs argued the A's were "trying to cut corners in the environmental review process in order to align with their wildly unrealistic goal of completing construction in 2023."
Colin Kelly, the director of public affairs at Schnitzer Steel, issued a response to the A's lawsuit Wednesday, arguing it 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,” Kelly said in a statement. “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."
Kaval denied the lawsuit was filed out of retaliation, and in a series of tweets earlier Wednesday said "[The A's will] fight this fight regardless of what happens with the ballpark. This is bigger than baseball."
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