The Richmond Shoreline Alliance (RSA) came together to promote a healthy and accessible shoreline for all residents of Richmond, California. The RSA community has fought resiliently for over two decades—with support from scientists, engineers, lawyers, environmentalists, and health professionals—to secure the most health-protective cleanup of the Superfund-qualified AstraZeneca toxic waste site on Richmond’s southeast shoreline.

History: For a century, Stauffer Chemical Company manufactured pesticides, herbicides, and sulfuric acid at the 85-acre site, dumping tons of hazardous and radioactive waste on the shoreline. The site was acquired in the 1980s by Zeneca PLC, which later merged with pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca. Despite community objections, in 2019 the state agency tasked with cleanup oversight—the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC)—approved a cleanup plan that requires removing only a fraction of the 550,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. Equally alarming, the DTSC plan disregards the threat of climate-change induced sea level rise and groundwater infiltration. But based on DTSC’s authorization, in 2020 the Richmond City Council approved a proposal to build up to 4,000 housing units on the site, and the developer is moving forward with its plans.

Solutions: Honoring our commitment to partner with Bay Area environmental justice organizations, SF Bay PSR is fiscally sponsoring “RSA Healthy Environment,” a community education and capacity-building project in Crescent Park, a multifamily housing complex just across I-580 from the AstraZeneca site. Project Coordinator Alfredo Angulo and Organizer Brandy Khansouvong have surveyed more than fifty-five Crescent Park households to understand their level of knowledge and their relationship to the shoreline; gain community perspectives on the threat of toxic contamination; and ascertain health problems. SF Bay PSR Board Member Dr. Marjaneh Moini serves on the project’s Public Health Working Group.

The project will train a cohort of Crescent Park residents to advocate for their community and build greater awareness of the potential health risks posed by the contaminated site. Trainees will gain leadership, communication, and policy advocacy skills to uplift their community’s concerns and call for a thorough cleanup of the site.

LISTEN: Richmond community members tell the story in their own words

KQED: For a deeper understanding of the site and the struggle for a complete cleanup, please see this 2022 article