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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

EJ sites in Oakland

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EPA-CBC Environmental Justice Tour

Environmental Justice Sites in Oakland, CA

West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project
1747 14th Street, Oakland

West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP) is a community based organization that came together around 2002 to build on the “Neighborhood Knowledge for Change” report and project, in which the grassroots community developed 17 indicators of community vitality and health.  Since then, the WOEIP has continued to organize and advocate on issues of environmental justice, community health and redevelopment.  It also carries out community education, capacity building and leadership development to empower community members to develop strategies and solutions for their community’s environmental and economic well being.

WOEIP has developed a program (including summer program for high school students) for community members to advocate for environmental justice by using grassroots data collection.  The program trains citizens to use equipment and create data sets that can be brought to the attention of companies and agencies regarding local environmental issues.

In 2005, the WOEIP and US EPA signed a formal Partnering Agreement, which built on an EPA-funded and community-implemented truck study to assess the impacts of Port (of Oakland) impacts.  This agreement established the West Oakland Toxics Reduction Collaborative (WOTRC).  WOTRC has brought together a full spectrum of stakeholders to address and solve problems related to Port operations, diesel trucks, land use, brownfields, and healthy homes.  EPA has supported this effort over the past 8 years with over $600K in grants, the largest of which ($223K) came from EPA’s CARE (Community Action for a Renewed Environment) program.  While the CARE funding was concluded in 2009, the WOEIP, U.S. EPA, and Alameda County Public Health have continued to oversee the Collaborative since that time.

Impacts due to port operations have been the main driver of airborne toxic risk in West Oakland.  Diesel Pollution from the 2000 or so heavy duty diesel trucks serving the Port of Oakland is a main contributor to the airborne risk.  The WOTRC addressed this by way of several workgroups, which developed solutions to clean up the trucks as well as support for the truckers as they made the transition to a more modern cleaner truck fleet.  One of the most important outcomes was the development of the OT-411 Truck Information Center, which will be visited after the WOEIP. 
More info about CARE Funding for West Oakland

Oakland Trucker Information Center
11 Burma Road, off Maritime, West Oakland

OT-411 is a non-profit partnership including the West Oakland community, dedicated to bringing vital information and services to truck owners and operators working the Port of Oakland.  OT-411 assists truckers in understanding state environmental rules, grants and other incentives for truck retrofits and replacements, and financial skills to improve their businesses. OT-411 also offers standard compliance classes for drivers and skills development programs for people seeking employment or hoping to change jobs in the trucking industry.

The main trucking issues revolve around the requirement for cleaner trucks (retrofitted or replaced) under State law in order  to legally enter the Port, as well as issues surrounding idling and lack of access to services and facilities for truckers. 

Shore power – The Port faces the imperative to install electric charging equipment for ships to operate on shore-based grid power while docked, as required by State law in the near future and in order to meet clean air goals.  It risks losing business to other ports if the equipment is not installed. The Port also faces the  challenge of coming up with funding, with the State thus far having committed only some of the funds, and community advocates suggesting that the shipping industry and cargo owners ought to carry more of the funding burden.

Mandela Marketplace/Food Co-op
1364 7th Street

The tour will include a stop at an urban food cooperative fighting to combat inner-city food deserts.   Located adjacent to the BART station, the Mandela Marketplace works directly with community residents, local, state and federal agencies, non-profits, small business owners, and farmers to support strategies to meet food needs, expand economic opportunity and increase self-reliance of low-income and disenfranchised people and minority farmers.  This is an excellent example of “Food Justice”, increasingly a priority for EJ communities across the country.

Lake Merritt BART

insert Lake Merritt BART info...

AMCO Superfund Site
1364 7th Street

The AMCO Superfund Site is a former chemical distribution facility located in the South Prescott neighborhood of West Oakland.  The site was added to the Superfund National Priorities list in 2003.  The site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, metals and organochlorine pesticides in groundwater and soil.  EPA Emergency Response  installed a groundwater and soil vapor system for treating contaminated vapors when the site was discovered in 1997.  The system was shut down months later due to community concerns about dioxin emissions.  Lead-contaminated soils were removed from eight residential yards in 2007.  In late 2009, EPA installed treatment systems in four homes to mitigate potential vapor intrusion issues.

The Remedial Investigation Report was released in 2008, and a draft Feasibility Study was completed earlier this year. EPA is proceeding with one component of the alternatives evaluated which is the excavation of contaminated soils and waste product found between the surface to approximately 15 feet below ground surface.  The action will also include permanent relocation of 3 residential houses located on 3rd Street and temporary relocation of residents living on Center Street.   The cleanup action will remove the most contaminated material from the site and allow EPA to better characterize contaminants remaining in the deeper zones.   As EPA moves forward with the cleanup of the site, cleanup levels will be set at the most protective end of the risk range or as low as possible.    
More info about the AMCO Chemical Superfund Site.

West Oakland Residential Lead Cleanup

The West Oakland Residential Lead investigation area is comprised of six residential blocks adjacent to the AMCO NPL site.  In 2007 the U.S. EPA performed an assessment of lead in residential soils at properties adjacent to the former AMCO property. This investigation revealed high concentrations of lead in bordering residential soils.  This prompted U.S. EPA to conduct Removal Actions at eight (8) residential properties containing lead contaminated soils.

Based on site conditions documented by the 2007 investigation, removal actions, citizen interest, and correspondence with U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee's Office the U.S. EPA conducted an expanded site-wide assessment of lead in residential soils in October 2009.  Based on these results, EPA will be taking an innovative approach to addressing this lead contamination, using phosphates from waste fish bones to reduce the bioavailability of toxic lead species, and covering the treated soil with a green cap of sod and organic material.  This would have far less impact on the neighborhood than a traditional dig and haul removal.

In addition to the innovative soil treatment, the project will be employing a local 8a contractor for the project, including graduates from the Cypress Mandela Training Center (trained through an EPA Green Jobs Training Grant).  The project will use solar power for its electricity needs, electric vehicles for local transportation, and recycled materials, all in order to minimize the environmental and health impacts to the community. 

Additional Oakland EJ Sites

Red Star Yeast (former site of)

5th and Mandela Streets, West Oakland

This facility was fought for years by the community as a nuisance and source of toxic pollutants, and was the highest ranked stationary source of toxic air pollutants in West Oakland.  Sustained community activism as well as the involvement of numerous agencies and elected officials led to the closing of this facility in 2003.  This eliminated a source of noxious air pollutants that had hindered redevelopment of this several block area for many years.

Mandela Gateway
West Oakland

Across 7th Street from BART and the old Red Star site, this development is one component of is evolving as a “transit village” developing around the West Oakland BART Station.

Mandela Parkway
West Oakland

Mandela Parkway Replaced the Cypress Freeway (now relocated to the outskirts of the community), which had a hugely destructive effect on the community.  The Parkway is now serving  as a key element of the community’s revitalization and redevelopment plans.  This is also a tribute to the community’s resilience in fighting the original plan by State agencies to reconstruct the freeway in the same place as before.  The Parkway is now an attractive surface road running from Emeryville across West Oakland and all the way to the Port of Oakland, and now hosts several new businesses such as the Brown Sugar Café (26th and Mandela).

CASS (Custom Alloy Scrap Sales)
Peralta and 26th St., West Oakland

This is the largest and one of many recyclers in West Oakland and epitomizes a community addressing the environmental and public health impacts associated with mixed industrial, commercial and residential land use patterns.  In this case community activism combined with a desire to retain the business, but relocated to a more appropriate location, has shown the potential for win-win solutions when there is collaboration between the impacted residents, business, government and elected officials and other stakeholders.  The outcome is still unresolved, with a new site and funds for relocation still needed.

East Bay Municipal Utility District
West Oakland

The wastewater infrastructure in the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) is aging, and that’s been causing sewage spills and overflows.  The average age of these sewer pipes is 50 years, with some pipes as old as 130 years.  Through cooperative enforcement actions, EPA and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board have tasked EBMUD and its seven communities to reduce infiltration into the sewers through infrastructure renewal and improved maintenance. Because many aging sewer pipes have cracks, misconnections, and other flaws, stormwater and groundwater can infiltrate the sewers when it rains. The goal is to eliminate wastewater discharges, which are only partially treated, from EBMUD’s downstream wet weather facilities.  Through a strategy of long-term investment, primarily through user fees, EBMUD and its communities are working to achieve sustainable infrastructure.

East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) is the first wastewater treatment plants in the nation to co-digest post-consumer food scraps for renewable energy production. Due to canneries leaving the bay area, EBMUD had a large excess capacity at their wastewater treatment plant allowing them to take restaurant food waste from San Francisco and Contra Costa County and add it into their digesters with biosolids. They started accepting food scraps not only to boost energy production, but also to reduce food waste reaching landfills. In 2006, EPA funded a grant to EBMUD to research the most effective ways to anaerobically digest for renewable energy production and waste reduction. EPA Region 9 has worked collaboratively with EBMUD publicize this project and encourage other wastewater treatment plants with excess capacity to co-digest food scraps. Based on the work with EBMUD, an economic feasibility tool was recently released by EPA Region 9 to help wastewater treatment plants assess the feasibility of implementing co-digestion at their facility.

Why Co-Digest Food Scraps at a Wastewater Treatment Plant?

  • Divert Organic Waste From Landfills – Over 30 million tons/year of food is sent to landfill each year in the U.S.
  • Generate Renewable Energy – If 50% of the food waste generated each year in the U.S. was anaerobically digested, enough electricity would be generated to power over 2.5 million homes for a year.
  • Use Existing Infrastructure and Excess Capacity at Wastewater Treatment Plants – In California alone there are almost 140 wastewater treatment facilities that utilize anaerobic digesters, with an estimated excess capacity of 15-30%. 
  • Mitigate Climate Change – Food waste in landfills generates methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities Project
East Oakland

The East Oakland Building Healthy Communities (EOBHC) project is a comprehensive and creative effort to integrate and leverage private and public resources to bring about improvements in public health, environmental, and living conditions in general in a heavily impacted EJ community.  The East Oakland BHC is one of 14 sites in California for which the California Endowment (TCE) has committed to allocate $1m-$3M million dollars per year, for 10 years.  In June or 2010, the project partners released their 15 page plan for the next 10 years.  Key stakeholders in the group include Just cause, Allen Temple Baptist Church, Communities for a Better Environment, La Clinica and Alameda County Public Health (ACPH). 
The BHC initiative is led by Dr. Anthony Iton, until last November the chief of ACPH.  EPA has met with TCE in exploration of opportunities for coordinating their respective community-based programs, and as part of EPA’s increasing emphasis under the Obama Administration on interagency coordination and partnering with both private and public stakeholders on community issues.   The project’s success will depend in part on a key role for agencies at all levels of government, and may become a testing ground for the increasing demand by EJ activists across the country for real and effective interagency coordination in addressing community issues.

Edes Avenue Development
East Oakland

As of 10/8/10, this site is no longer a stop on the tour, but may be discussed on the bus.

East Oakland auto salvage yard, redeveloped into Edes Avenue Development

The green and affordable community was built by Habitat for Humanity East Bay, which worked with various groups and volunteers over the past four years to transform a blighted East Oakland auto salvage yard into a healthy and thriving community for low-income families.
Habitat for Humanity East Bay received two $200,000 Brownfield Grants from EPA to assess and clean up contaminants at the site. The $17.7 million, 54-home Edes Avenue Development is the largest Habitat for Humanity development in the state of California, and it serves as a statewide model for rehabilitating Brownfield sites.

Habitat for Humanity East Bay received two $200,000 Brownfield Grants from EPA to assess and cleanup contaminants at the site. The $17.7 million Edes Avenue Development is presently the largest development of its nature spearheaded by the Habitat for Humanity in the state of California, and it serves as a statewide model for rehabilitating Brownfield sites.

Edes Avenue Development

The development is receiving LEED–ND (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design -- Neighborhood Development) certification from the US Green Building Council, along with GreenPoint certification, and many of the homes have received a LEED Gold Rating.  The new homeowners will have lower utility and water costs due to the green design, materials, and equipment that were incorporated into the project.  Specific strategies include:  energy reduction (photovoltaic panels, fluorescent lights, tankless water heaters), energy conservation through optimal insulation, a whole house fan, light colored roofs, and low-e windows, and green design (natural shading of walls from deep eaves, fly ash concrete, fiber cement siding, stained concrete floors,  natural linoleum flooring, and low-VOC paint).

Tassaforanga Village
East Oakland

As of 10/8/10, this site is no longer a stop on the tour, but may be discussed on the bus.
The site was originally developed as Temporary War Housing in 1945 and was purchased by Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) in 1955 and converted into public housing.  In 1964, OHA redeveloped the site into 87 new public housing units which over the years became a magnet for crime and did not meet the needs of larger families. 
Tassaforanga VillageThe new development includes 137 units of mixed income housing, 20 units of housing for families affected by HIV/AIDS, 22 single family Habitat for Humanity homes, and a new park.  This project is one of the first public housing projects in the nation to receive a LEED Neighborhood Gold Rating.   In addition, OHA has applied for a LEED Platinum Rating for the housing, which will be the first in Northern California. 
It is difficult to find funds for cleaning up sites, and yet it is the critical first step in revitalizing a community.   A $200,000 EPA Brownfields cleanup grant provided money that paved the way for redevelopment dollars.  The cleanup for this site was only $320,000, but it attracted $72 million in local, state and federal redevelopment funds. 

Lion Creek Crossings
East Oakland

As of 10/8/10, this site is no longer a stop on the tour, but may be discussed on the bus.

Former Coliseum Gardens Housing Project
Former Coliseum Gardens Housing Project

The Lion Creek Crossings development is located on the site of the former Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) public housing complex, Coliseum Gardens.  Over the years, this former housing complex became one of the most violent and crime ridden areas of Oakland.  Drug dealing was openly conducted at the city park and had become a magnet for drug related crime. 

The Lion Creek Crossings project is a 19 acre site that now includes a 5.7 acre park (the creek and wetland area are restored), 367 units of public assisted, low income affordable and market rate rental housing, and 32 units of townhouse style housing for first time homebuyers.  To accommodate the needs of different families, the housing units range in size from studios to five bedrooms.

Former Coliseum Gardens Housing Project

EPA gave OHA three cleanup grants in FY 2004, totaling $600,000.  These grants were instrumental in leveraging non-cleanup funding, such as a HOPE VI grant ($13.5M), and loans from State affordable housing programs such as:  California Housing Finance Agency ($10M), State Housing Community Economic Development Funds ($49.5M), CEDA ($3.5M), and state tax credits.   OHA also received a $200,000 EPA brownfields cleanup grant in 2009, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to clean up contaminated soil where the next phase of housing will be built.

This project was selected as the Region 9 Phoenix Award recipient in 2006 in recognition of the impact it has had in the neighborhood and the creativity in coordinating a diverse group of partners who worked so effectively together.   This project is significant for several reasons:  the project did not displace or gentrify families from their neighborhood, higher density housing with a mix of affordable and for sale housing was built – which reduces the social stigma of public housing, contamination was removed from an area used by children, and the residents have become active partners with the Oakland Police Department in working to calm and stabilize the neighborhood. 

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