Despite environmental concerns, Port of Auckland will allow sand and gravel plant.


OAKLAND — With the promise of millions of dollars in lease revenue, city port officials will allow construction of a sand-and-gravel plant that environmentalists and even the state attorney general warn could destroy West Oakland. Air pollution will increase further.

Eagle Rock Aggregates, a Vancouver, Canada-based company, will store large quantities of construction materials in open air at an 18-acre marine bulk terminal at the port.

The 12-year lease — approved by the port’s board of commissioners last week — is expected to generate between $1 million and $6 million annually for the city’s port, where officials have pushed to boost economic activity and often Emphasis is placed on the creation of local jobs.

Residents and environmental advocates in nearby West Oakland neighborhoods have said for years that the area experiences disproportionately worse air pollution, and The study is shown Twice the rate of asthma hospitalizations and emergency room visits as other parts of Alameda County.

Still, a lawsuit by environmentalist group the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project — backed by the state attorney general last year — is expected to reach a settlement that would allow the plant to be built.

Despite assurances from Eagle Rock that transporting the material would involve less emissions than previously planned, it appears the plant itself will operate without a cover to prevent air pollution.

Port officials did not comment on the lease agreement. A spokeswoman for the port said details of the settlement would not be made public until it was “fully implemented and effective”.

Semi-trailer trucks line up on Middle Harbor Road as they arrive at the Port of Oakland, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in Oakland, California.  (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
Semi-trailer trucks line up on Middle Harbor Road as they arrive at the Port of Oakland, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, in Oakland, California. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Much of the pollution in West Oakland comes from the neighboring port, freeways, rail activities and other industries that produce diesel particulates, carbon emissions and other toxic hazards.

“We’ve pushed the port authority to start being accountable for what comes off their sites,” Margaret Gordon of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project said in a recent interview.

Last year, state Attorney General Rob Bonta. Joined the environmental group’s legal battle. against building the plant, agreeing that the millions of tons of construction materials stored there could allow dust and particles to float into the community.

“The Eagle Rock Aggregate Terminal will only increase their pollution burden, resulting in shorter life spans, more emergency room trips, and chronic illness,” Buonta’s office said at the time.

Other regional agencies — including the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission — have publicly called on the port to do more to mitigate the plant’s impacts.

Port officials note that, as part of the settlement, Oakland-bound ships will use shore power — a fuel alternative — while berthed in the port.

Feeling that concerns had been addressed, port staff spoke in a staff report of the potential “revenue generation and portfolio diversification” that the Eagle Rock plant would generate.

“Furthermore, the project provides much-needed construction materials, all of which will be used for a number of local (and regional) construction projects that will support housing, the local economy and local jobs,” the report states. are,” the report said.

The port board is expected to bring the lease agreement back for a second reading and final vote in the coming weeks.

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