Richmond, CA

Richmond City Council pushed to delay sale of Astra Zeneca site and development

Built in the Bay
(Christopher Furlong / Getty Images)

By Ian Firstenberg

(RICHMOND, Calif.) The Richmond City Council is being pushed by residents and advocacy groups to delay the sale and development of an AstraZeneca superfund toxic site along the city's industrial corridor.

In a May 11 city council meeting published on Youtube, the council heard from five speakers, one of whom was Tarnel Abbott the great-granddaughter of Jack London and a longtime East Bay ecology advocate, about why the delay is needed.

Abbott noted that the "dense legal document" requires more time and attention from the public before the sale.

"We're asking that you work with the community and the DTSC by asking for this extension. The public has the right to know what is going on. There are a lot of questions about the legal document and what it means," Abbot said.

In October 2019, the Department of Toxic Substances Control approved a final cleanup for the AstraZeneca site. The location has a lengthy history of environmental degradation as it was used for munition making during World War II and the chemicals used during the process leached into the soil.

In January of this year, a coaltion of environmental advocacy groups sued the city of Richmond for its approval of a mixed-use 4,000 home development at the site.

The lawsuit, which was brought by groups like Richmond Shoreline Alliance, Citizens for East Shore Parks, Sunflower Alliance and a number of other ecological preservation groups, alleges that the City Council ignored evidence that the cleanup process was part of a broader push for development of the area and that said cleanup process would be insufficient for future residents.

The AstraZeneca superfund site is a one of a number of ecological hotspots througout the city of Richmond that have garnered regional, and even national attention in light of the conflict between developers and enviromental groups.

Another is the Point Mollate site, where the City Council also approved a mixed-use 1,260 unit development.

"With regards to Point Molate, I repeat what I've said about both of these lawsuits, which were brought by community, please remember that you're here to serve the public, not vice versa. Staff needs to get on board with the public and bring these matters to a resolution that is in the best interest of the people of Richmond, not wealthy developers," Abbott said.

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