According to an environmental notice released by the Port of Los Angeles, the Port acknowledges that it has not carried out several vital pollution-reduction measures it agreed to following a legal settlement reached several years ago.
The 2001 lawsuit was brought against the Port by the Natural Resources Defense Council on behalf of community groups and residents claiming that the Port was improperly contributing to pollution.
Among the 11 of 52 measures the Port agreed to make but has not complied with include its failure to reduce noise, traffic and air pollution when it allowed for the expansion of the China Shipping North American terminal. Specifically, the Port has not acted on its promises to require all ships to slow down as they approach the docks and shut down their diesel engines – in order to reduce harmful emissions. Also, trucks and tractors used at the Port have not been fueled by less-polluting gas.
The China Shipping North America terminal is one of the busiest at the publicly-owned port.
In response to the discoveries of the Port’s failures, officials blamed previous administrators and promised to fix the problem.
Many individuals and groups are incredibly unhappy with this news. Mark Lopez, who heads the East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, stated that, “This whole time we’ve been led to believe that this is a much cleaner project than it has been.” He said the pollutants could lead to “untold health consequences to the community.”
The legal settlement reached over a decade ago required the Port to set aside $50 million to combat the effects of more ships, trucks and cargo-moving equipment.
Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka told community members at a meeting last week that, “We are faced with an unfortunate issue of delayed implementation,” and that, “We are committed to ensuring that something like this never happens again.” Seroka noted that the measures agreed to “had never been attempted anywhere in the world. The Port believed, at the time, that these measures, although far-reaching, were realistic.”
David Pettit, an attorney for the Council, said he “never thought for a second that [the measures agreed upon] wouldn’t happen. My belief is the Port has known for years that the mitigation wasn’t happening and didn’t tell anybody. This issue now is what to do about it.”
Interestingly, the Ports disclosure of its failures closely followed a public records request from a small newspaper seeking information on the mitigation measures.