CASS scrap metal furnaceOakland has finally signed a deal (with the folks who masterminded the awesome redevelopment of the grand old Fox Theatre) to develop the 118 acre Army base abandoned since 1999.

But first they’ll need to do a massive toxic clean up from what the Army left behind.  It’s estimated they’ll need 300,000 cubic yards of ‘clean dirt’ to replace the toxic sludge which likely will have to go to a hazardous waste landfill.

Where can they get it – from the new bore of the Caldecott tunnel perhaps, which would put that stuff to good Reuse.  That’s the second ‘R’ of the old environmental modicum: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Turns out Oakland could accomplish the two other R’s by another common sense move as well.  You see, nearby in West Oakland, there’s a potentially great green redevelopment space along Mandela Parkway and Grand Avenue.  With the freeway gone and the new parkway greening up with plants and trees, new businesses like Brown Sugar Kitchen have sprouted up and green infill housing has also moved in.

But the old three Rs are only going to get us so far, and that’s why we also need to be talking about the fourth R…Relocation.

In West Oakland there’s some old less desirable industrial factories cluttering up the landscape and bringing large amounts of toxic diesel truck traffic through the neighborhood.

And the businesses in question are – get this- recyclers, so you get the third R in the deal.

So that’s why Councilmember Nancy Nadel and others are pushing to have these old grandfathered plants, which emit toxic pollution and dust, relocated from near schools and homes to the Army Base.  You also can reduce the diesel emissions by keeping the trucks closer to the Port.

CASS exteriorSo relocating the recycling facilities that include a large industrial aluminum melting plant far away from neighborhoods and green businesses is a true win-win-win for West Oakland.

And that gets us the fourth R (Relocation) that is becoming increasingly important in so-called ‘mixed use’ zones where new homes and businesses end up next to less than desirable old industrial neighbors.

Admittedly, industrial relocation faces a struggle from competing land grab factions on the council, but let’s hope a green future and common sense win the day.  Life expectancies in West Oakland are already 10 years shorter than the rest of SF Bay Area folks because of air pollution. The fourth R will mean cleaner air and a healthier West Oakland.