Children near ports may suffer lung damage from ships burning fuel oil

Image: Nickel and vanadium, metals released by burning fuel oil may be damaging to developing lungs of children. Source: American Thoracic Society

Researchers at the University of Southern California presented a study this week concluding that the metals nickel and vanadium, emitted by ships burning fuel oil, may be damaging the lungs of children.

Robert Urman, PhD, of the University of Southern California, and his co-authors examined health records of 1,911 elementary school-aged children from 8 Southern California communities who were part of the Children’s Health Study. “Each community varied in concentrations of specific air pollutants including metals,” said Dr. Urman. “Some of the highest levels of nickel and vanadium were found in Long Beach, where significant port activity exists. Examining the differences in health of children across these communities allowed us to identify the effects of these metals. When we analyzed the data, we found that teenaged children in the most polluted communities had an estimated decrease of approximately four percent in their lung function compared to similar children in the least polluted communities.”

For more information, see

SURPRISE! THE AIR NEAR MAJOR PORTS IS BAD FOR KIDS, Newsweek

Metals released  fuel oil may damage children’s developing lungs, American Thoracic Society (Press release and abstract)

 

You can help improve the health of children in port communities.  Click the image below and sign our petition asking the EPA to clean up ports and rail yards!

Pollution doesn't recognize borders.

 

 

How one California community is fighting to keep a massive warehouse — and the pollution it would bring — out of their backyard

Share the Rocha’s story and sign the #ZeroEmissionsNow petition.

Thomas and Kim Rocha chose their “dream community” of Bloomington, California many years ago, because it wasn’t flooded with the traffic they had experienced elsewhere. But in recent years, Bloomington and other sleepy areas of the Inland Empire have become distribution centers with diesel trucks loaded with goods from the coastal ports. When the Rochas found out that a massive warehouse was slated for development behind their home, they knew they had to fight it. There were already two of these “high-cube” warehouses in their neighborhood, and the traffic and pollution was too much already. Mr. Rocha put his experience as a union shop steward to work. He took his letter of opposition and knocked on his neighbors’ doors, to give them information and urge them to fight the proposal.

The Rochas were interviewed by Graciela Larios, Organizing Director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, about their fight for their home and community. Here are excerpts from their conversation, which you can hear on StoryCorps.me.

THOMAS ROCHA:

Well, the first step started the day I received a letter from the planning commission. They wanted to change the property behind our house from “residential” to “commercial” and build a 300,000 square-foot high warehouse right behind us … This  was going to be built 70 feet from my back wall. Seventy feet. You know how close that is? Everybody’s been to a baseball game — Little League. Home to first base is 60 feet … Right now we have two warehouses here, that we were never notified about being built. Or else I would have fought those, too.

KIM ROCHA:

The worst part of Bloomington now is the diesel trucks in the neighborhood, because the trucks do not respect the truck routes, and the trucks are constantly in our neighborhoods. We live about 1000 feet from a high school, also. To me, this just doesn’t make any sense, to build a cube warehouse now, 70 feet from my back door almost. And the kids have their sports, and they’re running track and field, and practicing, and they’re a few feet away from the diesel trucks going down the street they’re running on. It’s just really bad for the neighborhood.

THOMAS ROCHA:

Being in Bloomington, it’s a community of color. At least 75% of us are Latino, Hispanic. We live close to the 10 Freeway (I-10) and a major railroad yard. The 10 Freeway, it is probably the 10th worst freeway-congested area in the United States. That’s all the smog and pollution right there, coming from these freeway trucks and cars. And to be building warehouses on top of that, that’s like three strikes. You’re talking about asthma for the kids. There are people I’ve talked about, when I’m canvassing, telling us, “Well, you know there are people at school they’re complaining their kid’s got asthma now and they want to know why.” Well, “This is why,” I said. The elderly are getting sick.

KIM ROCHA:

It’s making me fight, it’s making me hold community meetings in my home. It’s helping me to have a voice that I didn’t know I had before. I do volunteer work now, trying to get our point across. The more I learn about this, the stronger I’m going to fight it.

PLEASE JOIN Graciela Larios and the Rochas in the #ZeroEmissionsNow campaign to reduce diesel emissions in our communities. Share their conversation and sign the #ZeroEmissionsNow petition.

LEARN MORE about the community where Thomas and Kim Rocha live, and efforts to improve the quality of life there, by following the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice.

LISTEN to other conversations in our StoryCorps project, with people who are fighting for #ZeroEmissionsNow in their communities across the United States.

WSJ Reports on Moving Forward Network. Join our Campaign for EPA to Regulate Port & Railyard Air Pollution!

Photo: University of Southern California

Are you one of the tens of millions of Americans exposed to dangerous diesel exhaust air pollution from ports or railyards?

Diesel exhaust air pollution causes cancer, cardiovascular and lung diseases, and premature death, and has been linked to a growing number of other diseases, including asthmaAlzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, dementia, preterm birth, low birth weight, autismdecreased lung function in children, and hyperactivity.

You don’t have to take it anymore.

How do we stop this assault on public health?  As NRDC attorney Melissa Lin Perella told the  Wall Street Journal, “Until there’s pressure from outside, ports and industry stakeholders will not clean up unilaterally.”

The Moving Foward Network is leading the battle to exert that pressure.  The EPA has the authority to clean up ports and railyards, and millions of us have joined to ask them to stop this assault on our health.

The technology exists to make this possible.  All it takes to make port and railyard operators act responsibly is the political will.

Read the Wall Street Journal Article, Coastal Communities Fight to Slow Seaports Surge, and add your voice to our effort to protect vulnerable communities.

To add your voice and help save lives, please visit the Zero Campaign website, sign our petition to EPA asking them to clean up port and railyard air pollution, and enroll your organization as an endorser.

Booker, Menendez, Durbin, Merkley And Gillibrand Urge Greater EPA Focus On Addressing Air Pollution From Port

Breaking news  – just released by Sen. Cory Booker’s office:

May 11, 2016

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sent a letter to Environmental Protection (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy urging the EPA to coordinate additional action from the federal government to reduce emissions from ports and the freight network to help alleviate the impact on lower-income and vulnerable communities.

‘Across the United States, 13 million people-3.5 million of whom are children-live near major marine ports or rail yards. These low-income and minority communities are disproportionately exposed to high levels of air pollution resulting in serious health problems. Due to this environmental justice concern and the urgent need to transition to cleaner energy sources, we urge the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to coordinate additional action from the federal government to reduce emissions from ports and the freight network and help alleviate the impact on vulnerable communities,’ the senators said.

Of particular concern to Booker and Menendez is the air quality surrounding ports in New Jersey, including the Port of Newark. The Port of New York and New Jersey is the nation’s third-largest seaport and many of its terminals are located near low-income communities in Newark, Bayonne, and Elizabeth, where asthma is now a leading cause of absenteeism for school-age kids. According to the EPA in a recent report, 25 percent of Newark children have asthma and the bulk of asthma hospitalizations take place in children’s early years. Absences caused by this condition have an enormous impact on chronic absenteeism in grades K-3.

A recent Village Voice article detailed how air pollution from the Port of Newark is having an adverse impact on residents’ health and well-being.

Booker has worked in the Senate for years to improve the air quality and reduce emissions at America’s ports. In 2014, an amendment authored by Booker to expand funding eligibility to projects that reduce emissions at ports was passed by the Environment and Public Works Committee. The language authored by Booker to expand eligibility for projects that reduce port air pollution was also included in the highway reauthorization bill that was passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama in December.

A pdf copy of the letter can be viewed here.

Draft environmental study released for biggest coal export terminal in North America – public meetings scheduled

The Washington State Department of Ecology has released a draft environmental study on what would be the largest coal export terminal in North America, near Longview WA, scheduled public hearings in May and June, and is accepting comments.

If you care about global warming and environmental health, please attend one of the public meetings or send in your comments.

Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview is proposing to build and operate a terminal that would handle up to 44 million metric tons of coal annually. The proposed facility would bring in coal from western United States with trains, stockpile it at the facility, and then export the coal by ship to Asia.

Shipping around Longview could expand beyond logs and other products to include sending coal to China.Credit: Sam Beebe/Wikimedia Commons

Shipping around Longview could expand beyond logs and other products to include sending coal to China. Credit: Sam Beebe/Wikimedia Commons

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Jacksonville boosters ignore environmental and economic risks to push dredging and port expansion.

If we learned one lesson from the disastrous dredging of the Miami Bay, it’s not to trust the U.S Army Corps of Engineers to protect our marine environment

See Florida port dredging projects under attack after Port of Miami dredging destroys hundreds of acres of coral reefs, and Miami port expansion kills endangered coral, as environmentalists feared for more information on the Army Corps of Engineers dismal track record.

Unfortunately, the desire to desire to gamble with people’s money (tax dollars) often overwhelms common sense.

Despite the fact that the nearby Port of Savannah (just 141 miles away) can already accommodate Post-Panamax ships that carry 6000 ocean containers, and dredging is underway to deepen the port to 47 feet so it can accommodate even larger ships, boosters in Jacksonville, Florida want to invest almost $700 million of (mostly) taxpayer funds to deepen 13 miles of the St. Johns River to the same depth.

But, that’s not the only problem with this plan – additionally, Jacksonville has inadequate rail connections to serve a port – which would cost an additional $200 million of, you guessed it, tax dollars.

Main channel depths at selected ports, USACE

The experts who warn that this is a crap shoot have been ignored.

“Jean-Paul Rodrigue, a Hofstra University professor and an expert in the field of transportation economics, said that cities, including three within 240 driving miles (Jacksonville; Savannah, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina) of one another, are gambling that deepening their ports will bring more cargo ships in spite of the fact that competition among them is a “zero sum game,” in which “whatever somebody gains is going to be at the expense of the other.” He added that, particularly considering the current slowdown of global economic growth, there is not likely to be enough of an increase of traffic to justify all those projects. The bigger ships are not going to create by magic more business,” he said.”

And their dreams ignore St. Johns Riverkeeper warnings of the damage the project is likely to do:

“.. the permit and the proposed project fail to protect our river from the likely damage that will occur from removing 18 million cubic yards of rock and sediment to deepen the river from 40 to 47-feet.

The dredging will result in harmful sedimentation, erosion and shoaling and cause salt water to move farther upstream. The increase in salinity will likely damage or destroy hundreds of acres of wetlands, submerged grasses, and trees in parts of the river and its tributaries, such as Julington Creek and Ortega River. Critical habitat for fisheries and pollution filters for our river will be lost in the process.”

Even more amazing, this work is being proposed to serve just one terminal operator, TraPac, a Japanese company which according to the most recent figures I could find, is operating at about 20 percent capacity.

For more information, check out the references below:

JAXPORT AS AN URBAN GROWTH STRATEGY: COMMUNITY IMPLICATIONS AND PROSPECTS, Northeast Florida Center for Community Initiatives

The siren song of deep water: Ports race to accommodate post-Panamax ships, Aljazeera America

Dredging Project Fails to Protect Our River, St. Johns Riverkeeper

St. Johns River Dredging Factsheet, St Johns Riverkeeper

Army Corps, environmentalists disagree on likely impact of river deepening, Florida Times Union

Port Authority faces roadblocks in quest to realize its potential, Florida Times Union (Jacksonville)

Massive warehouse complex threatens public health

Warehouses are not dangerous when built on a reasonable scale.  However, the trend for the past 10-20 years has been for ever-larger warehouse complexes, concentrating truck traffic and diesel exhaust pollution, and often threatening the health of workers and nearby communities.

A warehouse developer in California’s Inland Empire has taken this to previously unthinkable extremes, proposing to build a four square mile warehouse complex that would generate over 14,000 daily heavy duty diesel truck trips, over 50,000 daily automobile trips, and huge quantities of dangerous diesel exhaust pollution.

Accompanying this proposal were over $600,000 in political donations, allegations of corruption, lawsuits, and more more.  

Several Moving Forward Network members are involved in protecting the public from this unhealthy project, including the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, Coalition for Clean Air, and Earthjustice, which have sued to stop the project.

“To bring this much additional traffic without any mitigation to an area with some of the worst air pollution is criminal,” said Penny Newman, executive director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice. “Thousands of studies have demonstrated that air pollution harms people, especially children. Strokes, heart disease, asthma and other respiratory diseases, including lung cancer, and even low birth weight and birth defects are linked to air pollution, yet this plan has no mitigation measures in place to address these preventable impacts.”

To learn more check out

Smog or jobs? Massive warehouse means mass pollution, Desert Sun

#ZeroEmissionsNow

The Trump Administration Threatens NEPA

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditThe Trump Administration is attacking basic human rights, immigrants, science, women, the environment, low income communities of color. Some attacks are more public than others. We wanted to send you this update on how NEPA can be dismantled without Congressional approval through the administrative/rule making process. NEPA requires federal agencies to […]

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Moving Forward Network Responds to Dangerous Implication of President’s SOTU Remarks

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       CONTACT:  Ira Arlook, Fenton, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2018                […]

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Industrial Lead Poisoning in Los Angeles: Anatomy of a Public Health Failure

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditDear MFN colleagues, Here is a link to a new article about “silos” in government agencies that exacerbated exposure of children, residents and workers to lead from the Exide battery recycling facility in southern California.  Authors are Jill Johnston, who now heads our community outreach and engagement program at the University […]

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Senator Booker Announces The Environmental Justice Act of 2017

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditOn October 23rd U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was joined by local community leaders and advocates from across New Jersey and the nation in announcing a landmark bill that represents a major step toward eliminating environmental injustice. This Bill would strengthen protections for communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous communities. […]

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Elena Rodriguez of LBACA on the power of community & environmental justice in Long Beach

LBACA Header

The Long Beach Press Telegram ran a wonderful opinion piece yesterday by Elena Rodriguez of the Long Beach Alliance for Children with Asthma, a member of the Moving Forward Network.

LBACA’s mission is to improve the lives of children with asthma in Long Beach, California. Elena, her organization, and many others in Long Beach worked for many years to stop the BNSF Railway from building a dirty dangerous intermodal railyard in their community.

They won.  If BNSF wants to proceed, they will need to do with do it in a way that doesn’t cause more asthma attacks, or sicken others in the surrounding community.

Please read the commentary below, and the next time someone tells you a dangerous, unhealthy project is “a done deal”, remind them of the proposed Southern California Intermodal Gateway”, and what people working together in Long Beach achieved.

Long Beach community played role in preventing SCIG rail yard

The Trump Administration Threatens NEPA

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditThe Trump Administration is attacking basic human rights, immigrants, science, women, the environment, low income communities of color. Some attacks are more public than others. We wanted to send you this update on how NEPA can be dismantled without Congressional approval through the administrative/rule making process. NEPA requires federal agencies to […]

Read More

Moving Forward Network Responds to Dangerous Implication of President’s SOTU Remarks

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       CONTACT:  Ira Arlook, Fenton, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2018                […]

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Industrial Lead Poisoning in Los Angeles: Anatomy of a Public Health Failure

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditDear MFN colleagues, Here is a link to a new article about “silos” in government agencies that exacerbated exposure of children, residents and workers to lead from the Exide battery recycling facility in southern California.  Authors are Jill Johnston, who now heads our community outreach and engagement program at the University […]

Read More

Senator Booker Announces The Environmental Justice Act of 2017

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditOn October 23rd U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was joined by local community leaders and advocates from across New Jersey and the nation in announcing a landmark bill that represents a major step toward eliminating environmental injustice. This Bill would strengthen protections for communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous communities. […]

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Are U.S. taxpayers wasting billions of dollars on East Coast port expansion?

Photo: U.S. Department of Transportation

(Updated on Friday, April 28 to reflect a new Wall Street Journal article and Datamyne Port Report)

American taxpayers have spent billions of public dollars to dredge harbors, raise bridges, and make other infrastructure improvements to East Coast ports in anticipation of new larger container ships bringing manufactured goods from Asia by way of the Panama Canal, bypassing the West Coast ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

As we have reported here several times, international shipping experts have long been dubious of the wisdom of some of those investments.  See Florida – Land of ‘build it and they will come” port dreams for one example.

Some of the costs have been dearer than money. In the process of reckless and poorly planned dredging, the U.S. Corps of Engineers has done irreparable damage to our environment. See Florida port dredging projects under attack after Port of Miami dredging destroys hundreds of acres of coral reef.

And ports want tens of billions more in public dollars, as evidenced by a near constant drumbeat of news articles touting the necessity of more spending. See the recent article in Dredging TodayU.S. Ports Plan Big Investments In Capital Projects.

“AAPA then contrasted that number with what it believes is the “best-case” scenario for investments by the federal government into  U.S. (East, West, and Gulf Coast) ports, including their land and water-side connections, through 2020. The answer was just $24.825 billion.”

Large investments are needed to implement zero emissions technologies to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions, and protect the health of port workers and the millions of people who live near ports, railyards, and freight routes.  But are additional investments by US taxpayers to expand the capacity of East Coast ports a prudent use of tax dollars?

Though East Coast ports have experienced volume increases in the last few years (See the Datamyne Port 2015 Port Report, released on Thursday), an article published in today’s Wall Street Journal casts doubts there will be any substantial shift going forward:

“The change in volumes “is going to be pretty minor,” said David Egan, head of industrial research in the Americas for CBRE. ‘Most of what we thought was going to happen has already happened.'”

An article in the LA Times makes a similar point about shifts in shipping volumes.

“… estimates by cargo analysts suggest that only around 5% of those products would be diverted through the canal, because the trip from Shanghai directly to the East Coast is two weeks longer than the one from Asia to Los Angeles, O’Connell said.

Check out these news articles.  What do you think?

East Coast Ports to See Muted Boost From Panama Canal Expansion-CBRE, Wall Street Journal

Competitors are eating into L.A. ports’ dominance, LA Times

Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the positions of the Moving Forward Network or its members. All errors are the responsibility of the author.

The Trump Administration Threatens NEPA

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditThe Trump Administration is attacking basic human rights, immigrants, science, women, the environment, low income communities of color. Some attacks are more public than others. We wanted to send you this update on how NEPA can be dismantled without Congressional approval through the administrative/rule making process. NEPA requires federal agencies to […]

Read More

Moving Forward Network Responds to Dangerous Implication of President’s SOTU Remarks

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       CONTACT:  Ira Arlook, Fenton, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2018                […]

Read More

Industrial Lead Poisoning in Los Angeles: Anatomy of a Public Health Failure

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditDear MFN colleagues, Here is a link to a new article about “silos” in government agencies that exacerbated exposure of children, residents and workers to lead from the Exide battery recycling facility in southern California.  Authors are Jill Johnston, who now heads our community outreach and engagement program at the University […]

Read More

Senator Booker Announces The Environmental Justice Act of 2017

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditOn October 23rd U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was joined by local community leaders and advocates from across New Jersey and the nation in announcing a landmark bill that represents a major step toward eliminating environmental injustice. This Bill would strengthen protections for communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous communities. […]

Read More

Don’t miss “Activists Defeat SCIG – Court Strikes Down BNSF Railyard Project”

Photo: Jesse Marquez, executive director of Coalition for a Safe Environment (Source: Random Lengths News)

After a ten year battle, Moving Forward Network members and other organizations defeated an effort by the City of Los Angeles and one of the richest companies in America, Berkshire Hathaway, to build a polluting rail yard, the BNSF Southern California Intermodal Gateway (SCIG), directly adjacent to the community of West Long Beach, California.  The rail yard would have been next to schools, homes, and businesses, and brought huge quantities of deadly diesel exhaust pollution into the air and residents lungs.

SCIG from SCPR.ORG

The Berkshire Hathaway project was stopped by a California Superior Court judge, who ruled that the City of Los Angeles and its Port failed to perform adequate environmental analysis before approving the massive SCIG railyard, which would be constructed adjacent to many residents, schools and businesses in West Long Beach.

capture andrea quote

This was a wonderful win for the community, achieved in large part because of over a decade of hard work by community-based organizations.

Could others do this in their communities? Could you?  Yes!

For inspiration and information on how community-based organizations defeated a dangerous plan by a wealthy company, check out this excellent article by Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor of Random Lengths News.

Activists Defeat SCIG: Court Strikes Down BNSF Railyard Project

To help give community-organizations more tools to protect workers and nearby residents, sign our petition asking the EPA to regulate air pollution from ports, rail yards, and freight corridors.

 

The Trump Administration Threatens NEPA

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditThe Trump Administration is attacking basic human rights, immigrants, science, women, the environment, low income communities of color. Some attacks are more public than others. We wanted to send you this update on how NEPA can be dismantled without Congressional approval through the administrative/rule making process. NEPA requires federal agencies to […]

Read More

Moving Forward Network Responds to Dangerous Implication of President’s SOTU Remarks

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       CONTACT:  Ira Arlook, Fenton, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 31, 2018                […]

Read More

Industrial Lead Poisoning in Los Angeles: Anatomy of a Public Health Failure

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditDear MFN colleagues, Here is a link to a new article about “silos” in government agencies that exacerbated exposure of children, residents and workers to lead from the Exide battery recycling facility in southern California.  Authors are Jill Johnston, who now heads our community outreach and engagement program at the University […]

Read More

Senator Booker Announces The Environmental Justice Act of 2017

Share Tweet Share +1 RedditOn October 23rd U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) was joined by local community leaders and advocates from across New Jersey and the nation in announcing a landmark bill that represents a major step toward eliminating environmental injustice. This Bill would strengthen protections for communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous communities. […]

Read More

 

 

 

 

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