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Environmental Group Threatens Lawsuit After City Council OKs Rail Yard

LOS ANGELES ( — An environmental advocacy group threatened to file a lawsuit Thursday following a City Council vote to approve a new rail yard for the Port of Los Angeles.

KNX 1070's Jon Baird reports the $500 million project is expected to bring more jobs - and potentially more pollution - to Southern California.

Environmental Group Threatens Lawsuit After City Council OKs Rail Yard

The City Council voted 11-2 in favor of the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) near-dock rail yard, which will allow Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) to begin construction on railroads that will shorten the distance trucks loaded with cargo need to travel before transferring the containers to rail, instead of traveling 24 miles up the Long Beach (710) Freeway.

Located within four miles of the San Pedro Bay ports, BNSF said SCIG will increase the competitiveness and accommodate future growth of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which handle more than 40 percent of the nation's container cargo and account for more than a million jobs in California.

City Council members cited the scheduled opening of a new set of locks at the Panama Canal to accommodate larger container ships in 2015 as a reason to improve the port's cargo handling ability.

According to BNSF, the project will create 22,000 new direct and indirect jobs in Southern California, including 14,000 new direct and indirect jobs in Los Angeles by 2036.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, however, acknowledged that not everyone is in favor of the project.

"I am proud that we have one of the cleanest and greenest ports in the world," Villaraigosa said in a statement. "I realize, however, that some community members remain concerned about the project. I have asked the Port and my staff to continue discussions with them to try to address those concerns."

David Pettit, a senior attorney at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said he expected to file a lawsuit over the impact that diesel emissions will have on the community.

Petitt alleges that while the SCIG may reduce the number of trucks traveling on the 710 Freeway, more trucks will likely end up on the streets of Wilmington.

"These are little particles that go in your lungs and never come out," said Petitt. "In fact, there will be a million truck trips a year in the Wilmington and Long Beach neighborhoods."

It was unclear when NRDC - which had previously called the fight over the SCIG a "moral issue" - would take legal action.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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