OAKLAND (BCN). A group of West Oakland environmental activists plan to sue Port of Oakland if the Port of Oakland approves a project to bring sand & gravel to the Port without taking steps for analyzing and mitigating the expected pollution impacts on the community.
Advocates from the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project claim that the Port ignores their concerns. Eagle Rock Aggregates plans to bring 2.5 million tons of sand & gravel each year to the Port.
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The material, which will be used to make cement would arrive at Berth 22 and be stored on land at Berths 20-22.
WOEIP hopes that the Port will engage West Oakland residents in a meaningful, collaborative process to better analyze the environmental damage to West Oakland. Laura Beaton, a partner in Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger San Francisco, is representing WOEIP.
WOEIP will sue the Port if it fails to take steps to reduce the pollution impact. This is to ensure that the Port complies with the California Environmental Quality Act.
Beaton stated that a lawsuit will not file until the commissioners approve of the project.
The Port of Oakland commissioners didn’t take any action Thursday when the item was placed on their agenda.
Robert Bernardo, Port spokesperson, said that commissioners didn’t take action because Eagle Rock Aggregates requires more time to finish a labor agreement for a full union worker for the project.
The Port will store the sand & gravel for approximately 18 acres before it is transported to a nearby cement plant.
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West Oakland environmental activists are concerned about the dust from the sand-and-gravel polluting West Oakland. Beaton said residents were informed that a building is not feasible to cover the material.
A Port environmental scientist/scientist confirmed this view. Khamly Chuop stated that the Port plans to keep the gravel and sand wet, rather than covering it with a building/tarp. She said that both a building and a covering are impossible.
Trucks and ships can also be a source of pollution for environmentalists. West Oakland may be polluted as trucks transport sand, gravel from the Port to its cement plant. West Oakland may also be affected if ships are idling.
Ms. Margaret Gordon, codirector of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, wants the ships that deliver the sand or gravel to be able to plug into electricity on shore.
The Port of Oakland has made significant progress in reducing the amount of pollution it produces. It recently exceeded its goal of reducing diesel emissions by 86% compared to 2005.
Robert Bernardo, Port spokesperson, said that the Port recognizes that West Oakland is a contributor to poor air quality. People use the surrounding freeways to transport large amounts of pollutants. It is important that more than half of the pollutants are not from the Port of Oakland.
Bernardo stated that the Port of Oakland has been working incrementally on air quality projects for decades and that is how we achieve our results. This is how we have exceeded our air quality goals.
Is this going to worsen West Oakland’s air quality? Bernardo stated that the question assumes the Port is all that causes pollution in West Oakland. This is not true.
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