Members of the Long Beach City Council will soon decide whether to approve or reject two appeals against a new oil storage project near the city’s port.
The new project would create two new storage tanks that can hold 25,000 barrels of oil each, 50,000 barrels in total, near the Port of Long Beach. The new storage tanks would add to World Oil’s storage facility at the port.
But some environmental activists say the city and port have not fully considered the health and environmental impacts of this new storage facility, a claim the port department rejects in its response to appeals.
Two environmental groups, Safe Fuel and Energy Resources California – or SAFER – and another coalition of Long Beach residents and advocacy groups have appealed an October decision by the Harbor Commission to approve the storage project. oil.
For the project, the port has filed a negative initial study and declaration, that is, a study and a declaration indicating that there will be no substantial effects on the environment.
But both groups argue that a project of this scale requires an environmental impact report. Environmental experts from both groups also disagree that this project would have substantial impacts on the environment and the health of local residents.
The city council will vote on Tuesday whether passing the initial study and negative statement complied with California environmental quality law, a staff report said. If the board members say yes, then the project takes another step forward. And if not, the port should perform a different CEQA analysis, such as an environmental impact report.
According to the staff report, the Port Department’s initial review found there was no evidence that this project would have a significant environmental impact.
As part of their appeal, SAFER and the coalition – which includes environmental groups Earthjustice and the Coalition For Clean Air, as well as some local residents – said the new storage tanks would pollute the air of vulnerable communities.
“Over its lifetime, it will emit over 200,000 pounds of toxic air pollutants,” said Kartik Raj, an Earthjustice lawyer in a recent interview with this newsgroup.
And while these new storage tanks won’t handle petroleum, Raj said the storage facilities can still emit chemicals like benzene, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says cause cancer.
But in response to the appeal, the port said: ‘The studies referenced by the Coalition as evidence of underestimation of (volatile organic compound) emissions are just that – studies,’ the report read. Staff. “They have not been approved by any regulatory body for use in determining the significance of environmental impacts under the CEQA.”
Other complaints, among others, are that the new project would create hazardous sludge, but the Port Department says the sludge would not pose a risk if regularly transported and disposed of.
And another is that the project is not prepared for a natural disaster – like the recent tsunami advisory – an issue the Port Department has also said it is prepared for.
Although the port department has said it doesn’t need one, with a project of this scale and some local residents concerned, those appealing want an environmental impact report so they can fully understand how this project may affect their health and their local environment.
“In the eyes of the port and the city of Long Beach, this project could be a drop in the ocean or it could be insignificant,” said Oscar Espino-Padron, another Earthjustice lawyer, “but this perspective ignores that communities are already drowning in pollution from the oil industry.