SAN FRANCISCO – A judge today ruled that Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) can be an intervening plaintiff in a new lawsuit seeking to clean up a Bay Area chemical manufacturing plant today, filed by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). CBE is represented by attorneys from the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and the Aqua Terra Aeris (ATA) legal group, as well as its attorneys.
In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered that the Pittsburg, California plant, then owned by Dow, was treating millions of gallons of liquid waste through a waste water treatment system without the or permits required to process hazardous waste.
The EPA has sampled tanks storing wastewater before treatment and has documented more than 1,050 cases of corrosive hazardous waste, as well as several cases of unauthorized treatment of toxic waste consisting of carbon tetrachloride, tetrachlorethylene and chloride of methylene. These chemicals seriously affect the central nervous system and the liver and probably cause cancer.
Many of the same violations were confirmed by the DTSC in November 2020, more than 4 years after the initial EPA inspection. The DTSC also found that some of this hazardous waste was stored in open tanks and tanks that vent to the surrounding air without the required pollution controls.
Members of the nearby community remain concerned about their exposure to hazardous waste emissions and discharges and the potential for future catastrophic leaks. Dow has since spun off into numerous companies, including Corteva, Inc. and its subsidiaries, which now own the plant.
More than five years later, the Pittsburgh facility continues to handle and store hazardous waste without the safeguards, planning, record keeping and monitoring that would be required with a hazardous waste permit. CBE filed a federal lawsuit for these violations in December 2019. The state, through the Toxic Substances Control Department, followed a trial in state court in September 2021. CBE’s motion for join the state trial was granted today.
“The State of California is coming together to finally stop this dangerous chemical manufacturing plant from harming the Pittsburgh community and polluting the surrounding air, waterways and environment, and we look forward to partnering with this enforcement case,” said Shana Lazerow, CBE’s Chief Legal Officer.
“This facility needs to be held accountable and begin following state and federal licensing rules,” said Simi Bhat, an NRDC lawyer handling of the case. “DTSC’s involvement in this matter is important to show Dow and others in the industry that cutting corners when manufacturing chemicals will not be tolerated.”
“Treatment of hazardous waste without a permit not only poses major dangers to the surrounding community, but also prevents the public from knowing how this waste is managed from ‘cradle to grave,’ as required,” said Matthew Maclear, an ATA partner handling of the case.
Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) is one of the nation’s leading environmental justice organizations. CBE’s mission is to empower people in communities of color and low-income communities in California to achieve environmental health and justice by preventing and reducing pollution and building green communities and environments. , healthy and durable. Visit us at www.cbecal.org
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international non-profit environmental organization with over 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health and the environment. The NRDC has offices in New York; Washington D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter@NRDC
Aqua Terra Aeris Legal Group (ATA) is an Oakland-based law firm dedicated to protecting the public health and environment of Californians. Visit us at www.atalawgroup.com.