1370


Tell Port of San Diego to STOP DIESEL DEATHS

The Mitsubishi Cement Corporation (MCC) is proposing to build a mega cement warehouse on the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in Barrio Logan. If approved by the San Diego Board of Port Commissioners, the MCC warehouse is estimated to increase monthly diesel truck trips by at least 50% adding 2,000 trips and up to as many as 8,700 trips in future years!

Please take action today and tell the Port to protect public health by requiring MCC to use clean electric trucks that reduce diesel air pollution.

Barrio Logan is already at the top 5% for Diesel Particulate Matter (PM), a pollutant that can cause serious health problems such as lung cancer and asthma.

Barrio Logan and National City also have disproportionately high rates of COVID-19 infections – a disease made worse by poor air quality. Our communities don’t need industry and the Port of San Diego to add fuel to the fire, exposing residents to even further risks of health complications.

Take Action


The Port must reject the MCC mega cement warehouse proposal unless the company complies with a clean electric trucks requirement and other measures that protect portside communities from continued exposures to chronic air pollution.

#stopdieseldeaths

Please sign our petition today!

 

1370

Environmental Health Coalition's statement on California State Auditor report on the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District.

Environmental Health Coalition appreciates the leadership of Assembly member Gloria to request this investigation and thanks the Auditor’s office for its comprehensive research. Read full press release from Assembly member Gloria.

This report validates the experiences of residents who live in the communities most impacted by poor air quality.  Their voices have not been heard as complaints languish for months, monies have not been spent appropriately to reduce pollution and San Diego’s air quality is worsening.  EHC looks forward to working with the new Air Pollution Control Board to rectify these problems.

We are dismayed by the corporate subsidies of nearly $4 million that have been provided to industrial polluters.  The permit program should be a ‘full cost recovery’ system with permit holders paying for the total cost of regulating them.  We are concerned that permit fees have been kept low to accommodate demands from industry.  The public’s vehicle registration funds were used to subsidize these companies. Those funds should have been used for programs to reduce air pollution throughout the region and particularly in those communities that are most impacted.

Lack of public participation has been an ongoing and decades long concern.  APCD has improved its community involvement with the Community Air Protection Program but the lack of authentic participation in the advisory board and at APCD board meetings is stunningly poor.  Most board decisions are on consent with only 3 public commenters in 3 years.  The APCD website is not user-friendly and lack transparency.  These are issues that are required to be managed by the passage of AB 423 that creates a new board structure and requirements for improvement.

 

1369

On Sunday morning July 12, a 3-alarm fire broke out aboard the Navy ship USS Bonhomme Richard docked at Naval Station San Diego, located between Barrio Logan and National City. Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) expresses our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Navy personnel who were injured and our gratitude to the firefighters and emergency personnel who responded to the immediate threat.

Unfortunately, the protection of public health in the neighboring communities was not a high priority for officials. National City residents report being overwhelmed by the odors in the early afternoon and throughout the day. Many said that they had to leave their homes because of the fumes and because they didn’t have air conditioning that would have enabled them to stay inside with the windows closed because of the heat.

EHC is deeply concerned and outraged that the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) and Health Department were under-prepared to protect public health during a crisis like this. National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis’ statement in English and Spanish warning the public and advising them to stay indoors came at 2:30 PM and was the only statement from an official source for hours.

The Navy spokesperson, Rear Admiral Phillip Sobeck’s assertions that the smoke does not contain toxics is preposterous and inaccurate. Smoke inhalation is hazardous to everyone’s health, especially those who have chronic conditions like respiratory illness or heart disease.

EHC calls for the following actions:

  • The County should immediately update their guidance on social media to effectively warn the public, and especially those with chronic conditions and provide safety information.
  • The County should provide emergency shelter for impacted residents that is cool, smoke-free and COVID-safe
  • The APCD should release air monitoring results immediately
  • The County should develop an emergency monitoring plan in collaboration with the community to implement as soon as a disaster like this occurs.
  • The Navy should release its findings regarding the cause and source of the fire as soon as that information becomes available.

The community deserves to have complete information about the toxins in the fire and how those could harm their health. National City and Barrio Logan are low-income communities of color that already have compromised air quality and are in the top 10% of most polluted neighborhoods in the state. As a result, 3-5 times more children in these communities suffer from asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

 

Related News Coverage:

  • Smoke from burning Navy ship in San Diego triggers health concerns, pollution monitoring (SDUT)
  • Combaten incendio en el buque USS Bonhomme Richard por segundo día (Noticiasya)
  • Answers on Navy Fire’s Health Impacts Won’t Come Right Away (VOSD)
  • Air Quality Concerns Surround USS Bonhomme Richard Fire (KPBS)

Image credit: Port of San Diego Harbor Police via Twitter

 

1363

Today, the California Air Resources Board chose health!

CARB heard testimony from over 140 people including: residents, advocates, agencies, and industry from up and down California calling for the Advanced Clean Truck Rule to be adopted.

Included below in this post is testimony from EHC in support of this groundbreaking rule as we continue to advance our call for clean air in San Diego!

What was surprising to me personally, is how much others look to our State for leadership, innovation, and guidance in advancing clean vehicle technology and new economies while protecting communities, moving away from fossil fuels causing severe health impacts from structural inequities in communities of color; and reducing greenhouse gasses affecting climate change.

From New York to Washington State support and partnerships continue to grow. We also applaud the AB 617 Portside Steering Committee for providing a statement of support and noting that these measures will assist our local efforts such as trucks serving cargo terminals at the Port of San Diego.

David Flores
Air Quality Campaign Director
Environmental Health Coalition

 

EHC TESTIMONY AT CARB IN FAVOR OF ACT RULE (06-25-2020)

Good morning, I am David Flores of Environmental Health Coalition.

Like many of the groups and individuals here today, EHC works in EJ communities that rank very high on CalEnviroScreen and suffer the health and safety impacts of disproportionate truck traffic. EHC supports this rule in its current form and we urge adoption.

In addition to the AB 617 Portside communities of Barrio Logan and west National City, the San Diego region also includes the border area, with its heavy burden of truck traffic from both sides of the border.

Aclima air sampling in 2019 found black carbon levels that, at the high end, correspond to a cancer risk level of over 2000 per million in the Otay Mesa area.

More recently Aclima week-to-week average values in the Portside and Border Communities during the COVID Stay at home order form March 20th to April 24th present a reduction in black carbon during the first 5 weeks, however, levels increased the last two weeks back to pre-COVID levels.

This does correspond with our information about diesel sources that impact our communities:

  • Port cargo volumes were down only a little, or even up in the case of some imports; the shipyards have continued to operate throughout this period, and there is still truck traffic in the AB 617 Portside community.
  • For the Border area in Otay Mesa and San Ysidro: Cross border commercial traffic is considered essential and has been allowed to continue across the border.
  • SANDAG statistics for Commercial truck crossings in 2019 through the state’s 3 commercial POEs (Otay Mesa, Tecate & Calexico East) broke a new record last year, processing more than 1.4 million northbound trucks.
  • Of that 1.4 Million, approximately 800,000 of those crossings were from the Otay Mesa POE truck crossing. Keep in mind, this does not account for the 2 to 5 hours of idling that these trucks spend cued up at the border waiting to cross.

We are already doing everything we can locally to reduce truck impacts. Working with the City of San Diego, the San Diego Air Pollution Control District, and the Port of San Diego, we are:

  • Working with the City to establish and enforce truck routes;
  • Working with the Port to educate truck drivers on the new routes;
  • Working through AB 617 to incentivize cleaner trucks in our communities and land use strategies to create additional solutions to traffic chokepoints and conflicts; and
  • Pursuing an effort of 3 decades to reform the land use plans in these communities to better separate industrial from residential land uses.

However, local efforts cannot compel a faster industrywide shift to electric trucks and away from fossil fuels. We need action at the state level to require zero-emission trucks in California at the earliest possible. CARB should not invest in false solutions such as polluting natural gas trucks, and these should not be considered under ACT and related rules.

EHC supports this rule in its current form and we urge adoption. We want to thank CARB staff for listening to EJ and clean freight advocates and strengthening this rule.

 

1361

This March, our lives were completely changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Public transit ridership plummeted and unemployment skyrocketed. The pandemic spread, and by April 20, nearly 100 transit workers in the US had died from the coronavirus due to the lack of basic safety measures. The world came to an abrupt stop and we all pivoted to adjust to our new reality.

EHC’s transportation justice work had to pivot as well. Along with community members and partner organizations, we had worked tirelessly for the past two years advocating for MTS to prioritize equity and environmental justice (EJ) communities as it shaped the Elevate SD 2020 ballot measure. Then in April, MTS took Elevate SD 2020 off of the November ballot in response to the pandemic. The potential for an infusion of $24 billion in transit funding over the next 50 years – gone!

The pandemic is still with us. Clean and safe transit is still a critical need. So despite the loss, EHC and the San Diego Transportation Equity Working Group (SDTEWG) have continued our work for transit justice.

And, we are making progress!

On June 18, MTS strengthened its commitment to zero-emission buses by unanimously approving our recommendations to improve its transition plan, which lay out how the agency will move from dirty to clean buses:

  • Prioritize environmental justice communities to get zero-emission buses first
  • Provide a meaningful community engagement process
  • Include workforce training and safety for transit workers
  • Develop more optional scenarios that accelerate the transition
  • Develop greenhouse gas emission reduction analyses to meet state goals

Our communities need and deserve a just recovery. They cannot afford a “return to normal” that locks in decades of toxic pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, which will lead us into another health crisis from worsened air pollution and climate change. EHC stands ready to work with MTS and our transportation justice allies to ensure a just recovery for all communities.

Image credit: MTS