Lawsuit Filed to Stop Richmond Housing Development on Toxic Waste Site Owned by AstraZeneca


DATE: January 5, 2021

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Richmond Housing Development on Toxic Waste Site Owned by AstraZeneca

Richmond, CA — A coalition of Bay Area environmental and community organizations filed a lawsuit in Contra Costa Superior Court to stop up to 4,000 units of housing planned for the AstraZeneca toxic waste site.  The lawsuit, filed against the City of Richmond on December 30, 2020, asserts that approval of the project violates the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by not taking into account current science on sea-level rise and more stringent health standards.

​”By failing to update its old environmental review, the city never addressed the most dangerous impacts.  Instead, the city justified changing its policies by reliance on outdated climate data, project details, reports, and modeling of toxic effects,” according to Stuart Flashman, lead attorney for the Petitioners in the suit.

(Petitioners: Richmond Shoreline Alliance; Citizens for East Shore Parks (CESP); Sunflower Alliance; Sustainability, Parks, Recycling, and Wildlife Legal Defense Fund (SPRAWLDEF); and, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice.)

The 86-acre site is located on Richmond’s southeast shoreline next to the UC Berkeley Field Station and across I-580 from Crescent Park family housing.  More than 100 types of hazardous compounds, the legacy of a century of dumping, remain on site, and less than 2% of the contaminated soil will be removed under the current proposal.  The hazardous compounds include arsenic, barium, copper, lead, mercury, PCBs, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), radioactive materials, and trichloroethylene (TCE), a chemical used in industrial manufacturing and known for its extreme carcinogenicity and other health effects.

In September 2018, the Richmond City Council endorsed a clean-up of AstraZeneca’s Campus Bay site to the highest residential standard.  However, in November 2019, after a developer promised millions of dollars to local groups, a narrow majority of the council retracted that recommendation.  Instead, they voted to allow over 98% of the carcinogens to be left on-site beneath the proposed high-density housing, leaving the toxics forever leaking into the surrounding properties and San Francisco Bay.

In November 2020, Richmond voters elected a new council majority that supports a full cleanup, yet that did not stop the lame duck narrow majority from voting to leave the toxics in place and build on top of them, taking advantage of COVID restrictions to limit the public’s ability to stop this unpopular and dangerous plan.  These few council members ignored the hundreds of Richmond residents and public health and environmental experts testifying against this proposal in the less than 30 days between the City’s first preliminary approval and the final approval vote on December 15, 2020.

Because of the hazards remaining in place, no onsite pre-schools, K-12 schools, or health or senior care facilities will be allowed.  Yet, everyone who lives there will be at risk by living on a toxic site while the health and environmental impacts worsen as sea level rises.


            Attorney for Richmond Shoreline Alliance, et al.: Stuart Flashman:  510-652-5373

            Attorney for Citizens for East Shore Parks: Robert Cheasty:  510-701-4321

            Attorney for SPRAWLDEF: Norman La Force:  510-295-7657

Richmond Shoreline Alliance

            Co-Chair Andres Soto:  510-237-6866

            Co-Chair Pam Stello: 510-210-4175

Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice

Executive Director Bradley Angel: 415-722-5270