Critics Outline Grey Areas in L.A.'s "Green" Harbor Rail Yard Project

Critics of the proposed $500-million Southern California International Gateway, which is being touted as “one of the 'greenest' freight yards in the nation," contend it will actually reduce air quality and harm low income, minority residents.

Support for the Southern California International Gateway comes from various stakeholders such as labor unions, businesses, politicians and regional planning agencies, who believe the project will serve as an economic catalyst. Two proponents, "Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Port of Los Angeles say the [153-acre] facility would take enormous numbers of diesel trucks off the road," writes Dan Weikel, "reducing the risk of cancer and respiratory illness for those who live and work along the 710 Freeway."

"Public health experts at USC, environmental advocates and officials at the South Coast Air Quality Management District, however, contend that the project's impact analysis overstates the air quality improvements," reports Weikel. Although the project's draft environmental impact report states that the yard would take 5,500 trucks a day off the 710, thereby reducing emissions, critics argue that future growth will negate any emission reductions. Furthermore, as Andrea Hricko, a professor of preventive medicine at USC, points out, "public health experts have asserted for years that it is inappropriate to build polluting rail yards within 1,000 feet of schools, day care centers, parks and veterans housing."

Lena Kent, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern, rebuffed these arguments, "Without the Southern California International Gateway, the situation on the 710 will be worse." She acknowledges "[t]here will be considerable health and risk benefits from the project" but claims that "[the critics] are only trying to pull things out of the environmental impact report that make it sound a lot worse than it is."

Full Story: Pollution drop from building rail yard near L.A. harbor disputed

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