May 19, 2020 – SAN DIEGO, CA – National City residents today joined Environmental Health Coalition (EHC), industrial and labor organizations to give virtual testimonies at San Diego Port Commissioners Board Meeting. Through live and written feedback, they called upon the Board to reject a proposal by Austal USA to build a major ship repair facility in West National City.

While the decisive vote on the Austal proposal was welcome news for the community, the Board of Port Commissioners took a second action, adopted unanimously, to continue to explore opportunities for ship repair operations on Port Tidelands. This leaves the door open for additional industrial activities that will threaten the health and well-being of National City residents.

The proposed Austal ship repair facility would have created a significant new source of air pollution in one of the region’s most impacted communities. National City, a designated AB 617 environmental justice community, already ranks in the top 95-97 percentile for diesel particulate matter (PM) in California. It has one of the San Diego region’s highest rates of asthma-related emergency room visits for children and seniors.

“I disagree with allowing a new shipyard in National City, as it contradicts the dedicated efforts to protect communities disproportionally impacted by air pollution,” testified Silvia Calzada, a National City resident, asthma patient, and longtime member of EHC’s Community Action Team. “It is clear that shipbuilding and ship repair will significantly increase air pollution in my community."

In addition to worsening air quality, ship repair operations such as Austal’s use toxic materials and generate hazardous wastes threatening nearby communities, and the land and marine ecosystems of San Diego Bay. These include poisonous, hazardous, and flammable materials such as lead, zinc, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

David Flores, EHC Air Quality Director, strongly urged the Port Commissioners to protect public health and stay the course on emission reductions. “Any new shipyard operations will be a deviation from the Port of San Diego’s commitment to improve local air quality and significantly reduce maritime-related emissions, and a great disservice to portside communities such as National City and Barrio Logan already disproportionately impacted by high levels of air pollution.”

“National City is park-poor but has won commitments from the Port to expand Pepper Park, stated Danny Serrano, EHC Campaign Director. “The Port must act to ensure that new uses near within the Pepper Park area will not be incompatible with the park expansion or bring further sources of pollution that would negatively affect the park users.”

National City and Barrio Logan can simply not endure the disproportionate pollution and land use incompatibilities associated with any new shipyards in their communities.


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Founded in 1980, Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) builds grassroots campaigns to confront the unjust consequences of toxic pollution, discriminatory land use, and climate change. Visit online at