A rock and gravel storage facility could soon be built at the Port of Oakland. This is despite opposition from West Oakland environmental activists who are concerned that particles from piles of rock and sand could pollute the air of residents living downwind of the site.
The Board of Port Commissioners will vote on Thursday on a 12-year lease agreement with Eagle Rock Aggregates for the construction of a bulk marine terminal at the Outer Harbor to store loose materials that would then be transported to a West Oakland cement plant.
Thursday’s vote would approve the final project after the December environmental impact report was certified by the commission. The terms permit for the extension of the lease for an additional five to ten years or up to a maximum period of 27 years.
Officials from Ports estimate that the lease would generate an average of $4.7million per year and $56.2million through the initial term. This will help diversify port operations and provide cement to the local construction industry.
Eagle Rock Aggregates is a Bay Area company that has been in business since 2007. It has a terminal in the Levin Terminal, Richmond. The aggregates (particulate building material like sand & gravel) can be found in foundations of the Bay Bridge as well as in high-rise buildings in downtown Oakland.
Eagle Rock will invest $30-55 million to improve the 18 acre facility and the 3-acres water at berths 20, 22, and 23. Ports America had used until it was closed. 2016 operations. The aggregate and sand would be shipped from Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The material would then be transported to Peralta Street between 24th-26th streets.
The West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project is a community-based environmental justice group. They worry that the project will cause more pollution to West Oakland residents, who already suffer from higher rates of heart disease, respiratory illness, and cancer than other Oakland areas.
Margaret Gordon, codirector at WOEIP, stated that small particles released from the facility will likely blow into the air West Oakland residents breath. The storage facility will not have its roof covered, unlike at the Levin Terminal in Richmond. The storage facility will not be covered.
In Published in the East Bay Times Wednesday op-edGordon and Brian Beveridge, co-directors, said that the project allows diesel ships to idle at terminals, spewing pollutants instead of cleaner, onshore engines.
They wrote that the aggregate facility would require the elimination of 18 acres of truck parking. As fine particles will soon blow our way, these trucks will also increase traffic, emit exhaust, and congest our streets while they struggle for parking.
Port officials, in a statement sent Wednesday, countered that the project has several environmental-related features that exceed current regulatory requirements. The measures include the use electric trucks to transport construction materials, a strategy of reducing vessel emissions and ways to reduce dust escaping from the site.
According to Marilyn Sandifur, spokesperson, the proposed project would supply the Bay Area with much-needed construction materials. These materials will be used to support local construction projects that support housing and the economy.
Keven Wasylyshyn is Eagle Rocks vice-president of commercial operations. He said that the company has been working closely with the port to develop an environmentally-friendly project that will support the state’s goals of reducing overall environmental impact and also help meet the region’s need for more housing and long-term, high-paying local labor jobs.