Madison Dearborn's VWR Distribution Center Violates California Laws Protecting Public Health and Environment

Dec 29, 2010, 11:59 ET from Teamsters Joint Council 7

Teamsters Union and City Resident Sue VWR and City of Visalia to Stop Illegal Project

VISALIA, Calif., Dec. 29, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Teamsters Joint Council 7 and Visalia resident Kevin Long have filed suit in California Superior Court against Madison Dearborn's laboratory supply company VWR International, the City of Visalia and others, to stop the unlawful construction of a 500,000 square foot distribution center that will generate up to 10,000 truck trips daily. 

These trucks will transport hazardous chemicals, emit dangerous particulates in the air and travel through residential neighborhoods significantly impacting air quality, traffic and noise.  The suit seeks to halt construction of the massive facility until important environmental and public health clearances are obtained as required by California State law.

According to expert testimony provided to the Visalia City Council, the thousands of trucks in and out of the facility every day as well as the construction equipment needed to build the facility will generate massive releases of air pollutants, including greenhouse gasses and diesel emissions causing individual and cumulative impacts on air quality and global warming. Potential spills of hazardous chemicals at or near the facility could also have serious impacts on both environmental and human health. 

The San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District requires building development projects larger than 100,000 square feet to secure approvals for air emissions associated with indirect sources of PM10 and Nitrous Oxide in the Central Valley.  Plaintiffs allege VWR has not even applied for such approvals.

Still Visalia's City Council rushed this month to approve as much as $1.5 million in taxpayer expenditures for road improvements as well as the dedication of land to VWR, despite the fact that the project violates both California's clean air laws as well as the State's Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

"The Teamsters have long fought to protect the health and safety of drivers and communities from the dangerous effects of poisonous diesel emissions and have helped pass some of the strongest environmental and public health and safety laws in the country," said Rome Aloise, Teamsters Western Region Vice President and also President of Teamsters Joint Council 7, which represents more than 700 members in Visalia as well as VWR workers in Brisbane. "We won't let out-of-state companies like VWR violate our important environmental protection laws or run roughshod over our communities at the expense of our health and safety.  Californians need good jobs and clean air, not more traffic and pollution in our neighborhoods."

Madison Dearborn Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, led the leveraged buyout of VWR in 2007. The global laboratory supply company provides universities, pharmaceutical and biotech companies as well as governmental facilities supplies ranging from laboratory equipment to highly toxic chemicals. 

"The company's plan to consolidate its West Coast operations in Visalia will significantly increase distribution distances to many of the company's largest customers further exacerbating the environmental and human health impact throughout the State caused by diesel fuel emissions, transporting hazardous chemicals on our highways and worsening traffic congestion," Aloise said.  "Having represented VWR workers for more than 50 years, Teamsters know well the dangers of this business."

"As a member of the Visalia community all of my life I want to preserve our environment and make sure it is always a safe and comfortable place to live," said resident Kevin Long. "10,000 truck trips will ruin that!"

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hard working men and women across North America including VWR workers in California, Illinois and New Jersey.

SOURCE Teamsters Joint Council 7