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Oakland’s port plans take a hit on environmental justice

Oakland’s port plans take a hit on environmental justice

So much for environmental justice, even in one the most liberal Bay Area cities.

Officials at Port of Oakland are trying to downplay pollution concerns while they chase $60 million in profits from a new terminal for sand-and aggregate shipments. This would cause pollution to nearby residents.

Poor socioeconomic and environmental conditions are already a significant factor in West Oakland’s disproportionately affected residents. Residents are more exposed to diesel particulate matter. 98%Californians have proportionately more asthma than the rest. 97%of the state and proportionately fewer low-birth-weight babies than 83%of the state.

Although port officials have made significant strides in improving their skills, Reduced pollutionThey are regressing on their 1,300-acre operation and have abandoned the concerns of ResidentsTwo 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% turn off engines and connect to electricity when docked, a key step in reducing emissions.

Port officials plan to lease 18 acres to Eagle Rock Aggregates to create an open-air bulk-sand and aggregate marine terminal. It would replace the smaller facility at Port of Richmond.

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 would be unloaded from the ship hulls using conveyer belts and stacked in three round uncovered piles that are approximately four stories high with diameters greater then 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 boardThe deal will be up for a vote on February 24.

Port officials seem determined to push ahead despite concerns over dust from the piles, dangerous nitrogen oxide and particulate material emissions from ships, tugboats that would guide them, and trucks that would haul concrete from the dock to Bay Area plants.

The environmental Review The projectThe port has received a lot of criticism for the unusually harsh characterization of the commissioned work. Bay Area Air Quality Management District, 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 critiqueA critique of the project and the environmental review is a possible 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 officials are environmental justice defenders is a falsehood.

Even the ports environmental review concluded that the project would produce nitrogen oxides at levels higher than the thresholds for air districts. According to port officials, the solution is to buy emission-reduction credit that would be used to reduce pollution elsewhere.

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This would do little to reduce the environmental damage already done to West Oakland. Officials from the air district have told port officials that offsets should only ever be used if there are no other options to reduce pollution.

There are other options. The massive piles should be enclosed so that dust doesn’t blow away. Ships require shore power or equivalent emission-capturing equipment. Transporting aggregate requires electric or zero emission trucks.

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 won’t be enough for West Oakland to avoid negative environmental impacts.

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