Kaval: Lawsuit isn’t About Howard Terminal, and Only a Little About Athletics

John Hickey

Oakland A’s president Dave Kaval said the lawsuit filed Wednesday by the A’s against the State of California over what the A’s describe as lapses in environmental oversight was an easy call to make.

And he said to the extent it’s about the A’s, it’s that the club’s executive offices at Jack London Square are one-half mile from Schnitzer Steel’s metal shredding facility in West Oakland where the A’s contend the state has been exempting Schnitzer from fully complying with environmental laws.

“This is part of our commitment to Oakland, to take actions that will improve the community,” Kaval told Sports Illustrated. “I have employees who live and work in the area and are out in bars and restaurants and who are recreating around there.

“We went to the regulators 18 months ago after discovering this during out due diligence for the (Howard Terminal) site. Hazardous materials are supposed to be tightly regulated. There are laws about moving hazardous waste around. We told the regulators we thought there was something wrong there. It’s 18 months later and nothing has changed. We felt compelled to act.”

When the A’s went to the regulators, Kaval said, they starter hearing from local community groups offering support, including the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project. Also on board was San Mateo state senator Jerry Hill, who helped steer pertinent environmental legislation through the state government.

”You have to keep in mind that this law is being enforced on the San Francisco Peninsula,” Kaval said, “particularly at Sims Steel in Redwood city. That’s in a more affluent neighborhood.

“And so, one of our issues is here that we’re trying to deal with is equity issue. Certain neighborhoods, often communities of color and under the poverty line, largely African-American, are treated differently. And that’s something we’re trying to deal with here. Hopefully we can be a small part of advancing this forward in a positive way.”

Kaval said the lawsuit was not retribution for Schnitzer being one of four Port of Oakland affiliates to file suit against the A’s putting down roots in Howard Terminal. He said the suit has little to do with the building of the Howard Terminal site.

“What I was trying to indicate is that this is unrelated to our ballpark effort,” he said. “What we discovered got uncovered during the time we were looking into the ballpark site, but we’re doing this because we want to be a good community steward. We believe in environmental justice stewardship.”

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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