Enviornmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit on Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court challenging plans to build the Southern California International Gateway railyard project
NRDC complained the project "violates the California Environmental Quality Act and the state and federal Civil Rights Acts, and will increase cancer rates, chances of children developing asthma, and add to chronic air pollution plaguing the region."
“The SCIG project typifies environmental racism,” said David Pettit, senior attorney with NRDC. “This project can be built away from where people live and children go to school, but the City of Los Angeles wants to put it in a low-income minority neighborhood because they think they can get away with it.”
In May, the Los Angeles City Council vote to approve the project.
The 153-acre facility proposed by BNSF Railway sits just outside
West Long Beach, alongside the Terminal Island Freeway on land owned by
the Port of Los Angeles. The railroad contends the $500-million facility will result in cleaner air by reducing traffic on the 710 freeway
BNSF said it would be located within four miles of the San Pedro Bay ports and shorten the distance trucks loaded with cargo need to travel before transferring the containers to rail, instead of traveling 24 miles up the 710 Freeway. If built, the project would serve on-dock rail facilities at both the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles.
In May, the the Long Beach City Council voted to sue Los Angeles over the rail terminal
The Port of Long Beach said much of its impact would be felt by Long Beach residents, businesses and schools
“This unnecessary project is not only dangerous to the health of the local working class, working poor communities of color but to the entire region,” said Angelo Logan, executive director of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, another plaintiff. “We are committed to fighting this project through all legal means. We believe that the alternative to this project is maximizing on-dock rail and have suggested a number of projects that could meet the Port’s cargo goals without building this monstrosity.”
NRDC said its attorneys and scientists have suggested several solutions to reduce the anticipated pollution associated with the project, including:
- Utilization of cleaner Tier 3 and Tier 4 locomotives instead of older, more polluting locomotives.
- Expand on-dock rail to eliminate the need for thousands of additional short-haul truck trips.
- Use zero-emission container movement systems.
“It is unbelievable that the port proposed a project of this magnitude without requiring use of the latest cutting edge technology to alleviate this community’s staggering pollution burden,” said Morgan Wyenn, an attorney with NRDC.
In a statement, a spokesman for the port said "the SCIG Project is a major project for the City of Los Angeles in which BNSF will invest $500 million for a state of the art green rail facility, create good jobs, and provide a strategic advantage for the San Pedro Bay Ports to move cargo through the Alameda Corridor and reduce regional pollution impacts. The Port of Los Angeles is confident that the SCIG EIR fully complies with the California Environmental Quality Act and prepared to defend it in court." - Chris Dupin