Up to 200 workers will be out of work or can relocate to Texas when an East Oakland foundry closes beginning this spring, officials with the company McWane announced recently.

McWane does business as AB&I Foundry, located at 7825 San Leandro St., near the Oakland Coliseum. AB&I is the largest manufacturer of cast iron soil pipe and fittings in the western U.S., and has been in Oakland since 1906, according to the company’s Facebook page.

State prosecutors last month filed a lawsuit against the foundry over emissions of hexavalent chromium, which have been shown to cause lung cancer in people when inhaled, according to the National Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Problems with hexavalent chromium were most notably brought to light in the 2000 movie, “Erin Brockovich.”

“This decision is especially difficult because of the impact to long-serving and hard-working team members and their families.”

Michael Lowe, AB&I president

“After much deliberation, we came to the difficult decision that relocation of our operations from Oakland was the only course of action to ensure we can continue to serve our customers with high-quality pipe and pipe fittings,” said AB&I president Michael Lowe.

“This decision is especially difficult because of the impact to long-serving and hard-working team members and their families,” he said. “We remain committed to working with our team members and community partners to help our 200 union workers either move with us or to secure new equally well-paying jobs locally.”

McWane will relocate AB&I to Tyler, Texas. The move will occur in phases with fitting operations ending around June 9 and all operations ceasing in about a year.

The company will help its employees who want to continue their employment with AB&I to relocate to Texas. The company will offer severance packages to eligible employees.

About one-third of AB&I’s employees live in East Oakland, according to the company. The average tenure for those employees is 13 years.

State prosecutors did not respond immediately to say whether they will be dropping the suit against McWane.

Companies interested in recruiting McWane employees who decide to remain in the Bay Area can call McWane’s information hotline at 877-460-1645.

Keith Burbank, Bay City News

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.