Overflow Crowd Jams Silverado Park Pre-EIR Meeting On Truck-To-RR Container Transfer Yard Proposed Next to WLB
(Oct. 7, 2005) -- A major truck-to-railroad container transfer yard, whose operations would involve trucks hauling containers from the Ports of LB and L.A. in part through WLB and Port-adjacent areas, will be capable to handling roughly 1.2 to 1.5 million containers a year, a representative of its proponent BNSF railroad has publicly stated.
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The statement was part of BNSF's presentation to an overflow crowd of 300+ people at an Oct. 6 pre-Environmental Impact Report meeting on the project, held by the Port of L.A. at LB's Silverado Park community room.
The meeting, part of a legally required process to seek public input on the scope of a forthcoming EIR for the proposed facility, drew grassroots activists, public officials...and candidates.
L.A. area media outlets were present including CBS2/KCAL9, ABC7 and the L.A. Times. Veteran West Long Beach activist John Cross was interviewed by CBS2/KCAL9.
Recently-retired SCE president, now LB Mayoral candidate, Bob Foster chats with former SCE co-worker Gloria Cordero, wife of Harbor Commissioner Mario Cordero as Better Balance for LB co-founder Jane Kelleher looks on.
SCE owns a chunk of property that appears to be part of the area that proponents indicate would be used by the proposed facility.
55th Assembly district candidate, Warren Furutani (left in photo) with veteran LB activist Dan Pressburg. Mr. Furutani was formerly on the L.A. School board is currently a member of the L.A. Community College Board of Trustees. Its website said in July 2004 that he was a senior consultant to Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez.
LB Harbor Commissioner Mario Cordero (left foreground in photo) and Port of LB Director of Community Relations/Gov't Affairs Carl Kemp listen to the public testimony.
Andrea Hricko, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at USC's Keck School of Medicine and director of the Community Outreach and Education Program at the Southern CA Environmental Health Sciences Center. Prof. Hricko was a primary organizer of the Feb. 25-26 LB conference "Growing Pains: Health and Community Impacts of Goods Movement and the Ports." (LBReport.com event coverage, click here.)
The 183 acre facility, which would extend roughly from Willow/Sepulveda to PCH and the Terminal Island freeway to the Dominguez channel, would rely on trucks to take containers from the nearby Ports of LB and L.A. to trains that would connect with the Alameda Corridor.
Proponents of the "Southern California International Gateway" (SCIG) facility say it will use less-polluting locomotives and offers the expectation of reducing regional air emissions by diverting trucks from long freeway hauls across the L.A. basin onto a shorter route from the nearby LB & L.A. Ports to the proposed facility. The Port of L.A. has acknowledged that emissions in areas near the facility will likely worsen.
Some attendees were already up in arms with the proposed facility as the meeting began.
As part of a BNSF power point introductory presentation, a slide stated in part: "Capable of handling 1.2 - 1.5 million containers annually" ...inviting the inference that the proposed facility could involve over a million trucks a year.
LBReport.com provides extended excerpts of salient testimony that followed:
WLB activist John Cross: "We've got a neighborhood made up of many nationalities, and I don't want to see that neighborhood poisoned...[invites his grandson forward] This is my grandson. Look at the name on his shirt. "Hudson [Middle School] Hawks." He's less than 200 yards away from your proposed facility. Right now, Hudson Middle School has the second dirtiest air in the state of California. And if my son continues to go to that school, in the time he started Kindergarten through 8th grade, that's 9 years at that school. If he goes right next door to Cabrillo High, he will be doing 14 years breathing air coming from your facility. And every kid on the westside...will be breathing that air.
I'm going to be gone not to long from now [audience "no"] but these kids have got a whole life. They spend it over here, they don't need to be sick...
This terminal, no matter how green it gets, with a million trucks going in and out of it, is not going to be any better...
...[W]hat they're not telling you...this proposed project is supposed to be done approximately 2009-2010. [By that time] if the funds become available, the 710 freeway will be widened...double-decked...and once the [widened] freeway is opened...we're going to have 1 million trucks over here [in WLB] and 2 million on the freeway...
The Port of Long Beach wants this real bad. The Port of L.A. wants it real bad...The Ports of L.A. and Long Beach are in bed together...Let me telling you something ladies and gentlemen: West Long Beach, East Wilmington and all of Wilmington, even though we're of mixed nationalities, we're not a third world country that you can walk on and step on. [loud applause] This is not China....where if people oppose something...they take you and throw you in jail...This is the United States of America, and we're going to speak up and we're going to fight this to the end." [loud applause].
Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga: "...While this project may be less than 5% geographically in the city of Long Beach, it most certainly affects 100% of the residents in this area...
...The project's applicants are asking us, the community, to consider the benefits to the region as it is anticipated that this project will take millions of trucks off the 710 on a yearly basis, a very admirable goal. However, given that port traffic is anticipated to triple in the next ten years, it would seem that this does nothing more than allow room for that expansion...
...I am really outraged that families of limited means are spending more on medical bills and medicine than on books and milk...My children who were born on the westside, suffer from asthma and other respiratory illnesses...We now live in a census tract that is designated as a cluster area for throat and mouth cancer! How do I care for my family's welfare?...
Unless the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Long Beach and the Port related businesses such as BNSF and UP start supporting the efforts of West Long Beach and East Wilmington area to improve the health and the well-being of our children, they cannot count on our support for this or any other present or future project." [applause]
Councilwoman Reyes Uranga also indicated that she plans to have an item on the Oct. 18 City Council agenda regarding the proposed project.
Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal: "Trucks accessing the proposed facility are currently envisioned to drive through residential neighborhoods and commercial neighborhoods...creating undesirable air quality and noise pollution impacts. This is unacceptable to my constituents and me. [applause]
Where is the environmental justice in this project? [applause]...
...This plan's objectives include reducing the distance of truck trips associated with [a] projected increase in containerized cargo. However I believe both ports should be looking at increased on-dock rail and decrease the number of unnecessary truck trips in our community...
...It's unacceptable to sacrifice our neighborhoods in Long Beach to accomplish these goals [reducing regional air emissions]. The goals may be worthy, the methods are not."
7th district Council candidate Alex Cherin also spoke. He noted that he is a candidate for the seat now occupied by incumbent Councilwoman Reyes Uranga...and said:
"There are a lot of issues that Tonia and I do not agree on, but I want all you tonight to know that as a father, as a resident of this district, as a lawyer, as a neighbor, I am absolutely opposed to this project." [applause]
Mr. Cherin noted that there are ports around the world that have on-dock rail as their standard...and said on-dock rail -- as opposed to the proposed project's near-dock rail -- should likewise be the standard in the industry in California and in Long Beach. "It should be. It needs to be. Please do it," Mr. Cherin said. [applause].
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