Mega Rail Project Would Threaten Years of Green Growth at Port of Los Angeles

Southern California International Gateway project violates state and federal law and puts communities at risk.

LOS ANGELES (June 7, 2013) – The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit today in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of Harbor residents living within the shadow of the largest development on Port of Los Angeles property in more than a decade. The Plaintiffs contend the proposed Southern California International Gateway rail yard 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.”

“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. “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.”   

The proposed project would add one million truck trips and thousands of train trips to the local neighborhoods. There are cleaner alternatives for both truck and rail transportation that the City could choose to embrace, but it has failed to do so.   

More than 40 percent of imported goods sold across the country are shipped through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Diesel pollution, the chief carcinogen associated with the SCIG project, is known to cause chronic and lethal respiratory diseases in children and elderly residents. Asthma rates among Long Beach children are the highest in the region, with an estimated 15 percent of Long Beach children suffering from asthma, compared to 8 percent overall for Los Angeles County.

NRDC attorneys and scientists have suggested several solutions to reduce the anticipated pollution associated with the project:

  • 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, attorney with NRDC. “This project will ensure more emergency room visits, lost school and work days and new cases of asthma and chronic respiratory disease for local residents while BNSF pulls in more profits.”