So much for environmental justice, even in one the most liberal Bay Area cities.
Officials from the Port of Oakland minimize pollution concerns in pursuit of $60 million in profits from a proposed new terminal for aggregate and sand shipments. The new terminal would pollute the air of nearby residents.
Poor socioeconomic and environmental conditions have already negatively impacted West Oakland. Residents are more exposed to diesel particulate matter. 98%Californians are more likely to have asthma than those in California. 97%of the state and proportionately fewer low-birth-weight babies than 83%The state.
Although port officials have made significant strides in improving their skills, Reduced pollutionThey are making progress on their 1,300-acre farm, ignoring the concerns of Residents?, two Regional agenciesThe state Attorney Generals Office. This plan should be canceled if it is impossible to reduce the negative effects on the neighborhood.
Oakland port has been focusing exclusively on container shipments, arriving and departing from 20-foot-long metal shipping containers. This has been the case for decades. About 85% of these ships are now equipped with electrical power and can shut off their engines when docked. This is a crucial step in reducing air emissions.
Officials at the port plan to lease 18 acres approximately a half-mile away from the Bay Bridge toll plaza, Eagle Rock Aggregates, for an open-air bulk and aggregate marine terminal. It would replace the Port of Richmond’s smaller facility.
The 48 ships that bring in 2.5 million tons of material each year from Canada would not have the ability to connect to shore electrical power supplies. The loose cargo, which would be unloaded on conveyer belts from ships hulls, would then be stacked in three uncovered, round piles each four stories tall, with diameters greater that a football field.
The lease would run for 12 years, netting the port after expenses between $43million and $60million. There are two possible extensions that could add another 15 years to the deal. Port boardVoting is scheduled for February 24, at 6:00 p.m.
Port officials seem determined to continue despite concerns about dust, particulate matter emissions and dangerous nitrogen oxide and particulate matters from the ships, tugboats that would assist them, and trucks to haul the material from dock to Bay Area plants for concrete making.
The environmental Review Project descriptionThe port commissioned the creation of the. Bay Area Air Quality Management DistrictThe San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development CommissionThe state Attorney Generals Office.
Meanwhile, a prominent law firm representing West Oaklands resident-led environmental-justice organization has submitted a scathing critiqueCritique of the project and environmental review, which seems to be a probable precursor to litigation.
This could land in court with the port defending West Oakland’s environmental impact. It would be a embarrassment for the port commissioners, as well as Mayor Libby Schaaf and the City Council members who appointed them. The notion that Oakland city officials are environmental justice defenders would be thrown out.
Even the ports environmental reviews concluded that nitrogen oxide emissions from the project would exceed the thresholds for the air district. According to port officials, the solution is to buy emission-reduction credit that would be used to reduce pollution elsewhere.
This would not mitigate the environmental damage to the already overburdened West Oakland community. According to the air district, such offsets should not be used if there were no other options for reducing pollution.
There are other options. The massive piles should be enclosed so that dust doesn’t blow away. The ships will require shore power or an equivalent emission capturing device. To transport the aggregate, trucks must be electric or zero-emission.
Although the port plans to implement some of these options, it will do so on a limited basis and more slowly than other public agencies. It will not be enough to eliminate West Oakland’s negative environmental effects.
Other options are rejected by port officials, such as the enclosure and removal of the piles. Their hesitation is rooted in money. They claim that the options are too expensive to make a deal for Eagle Rock pencil out.
However, if the deal isn’t cost-effective and environmentally friendly for West Oakland, it should be rejected. Residents near by shouldn’t have any more pollution.