Election Section

Pacific Steel Castings (PSC):Politicians Protecting Polluters

By Merrilie Mitchell
Tuesday September 21, 2010 - 03:51:00 PM

Community members have real health concerns re pollution from Pacific Steel Castings company located at 2nd and Gilman. Here are a few of the problem chemicals: 

· Very fine particles of metal such as manganese, a potent neurotoxin 

· Dangerous gases--> formaldehyde & benzene, which cause cancer and foul odors 


Three political “tricks” protect the polluters and prevent change: 

1. Toxics have been marginalized into just an “odor problem”. Mayor Bates and Councilmember Linda Maio play into this and the following games as well.. 

2. Mayor Bates is our rep on the Air Quality Management District which set the bar so high for pollution that PSC's toxics are “under the radar.” This is most irresponsible to children because they are growing and absorb and store chemicals at a much higher rate than adults. 

3. PSC claims that changing their carbon filters is a trade secret! Come now, we change a car or vacuum filter when necessary or it won't work! 

Let’s be open about problems so we can try to solve them. In this case we can ask the University to try to build a better or recyclable filter, and can seek research grants. 


Pacific Steel pollution smells like burnt pot handles although the company has been known to add, “air fresheners” to disguise the smell. or to schedule work after 8pm in the winter when folks will be less likely to smell it. Problem is when the weather is cold, pollutants stay nearer the ground and may remain there rather than disperse from the tall stacks to blow wherever the wind goes. It is also unhealthy for workers to work “graveyard shift.” 


Industries like PSC must clean up their act, and long-term politicians like Mayor Bates and Linda Maio who protect polluters rather than the people deserve “Time Out”. 


PSC is an old Berkeley Company that does needed specialty work such as crafting parts to repair the SF Bay Bridge. I don’t want to lose them. 


We need President Obama to put stimulus money into clean air filters, and clean up and restoration of our environment, a real “New Deal” for people and our Planet. 


Meanwhile: Helpful hint: Eat a high quality diet and you absorb less toxic metals into your bones. Example: Those with diets high in bone-building nutrients like calcium are unlikely to store lead in their bones!!! 


Merrilie Mitchell is a candidate for Berkeley City Council in District 1.