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West Oakland Residents Oppose Proposed Port Of Oakland Sand And Gravel Storage Site

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- The Port of Oakland's Board of Commissioners will consider a proposed sand and gravel storage facility on their property at a meeting later this week, but the proposal is facing strong opposition from some West Oakland residents who say they are tired of having to live with the dirty air coming from the Port.

A company called Eagle Rock Aggregates wants to put an open-air sand and gravel storage and distribution facility on 18 acres of Port property, just behind Berths 20, 21 and 22.

The material would be shipped in from Canada and off-loaded using an overhead conveyer system where it would be stockpiled in large mounds before being sent to construction projects in the area. Neighbors worry that some of it would be sent to them, as well.

"It's a loose rock facility," said Brian Beveridge, Co-director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project "And so, when you throw rocks around, you create dust and we're really concerned about what they call particulate matter."

He said West Oaklanders already suffer four times the pollution levels of other parts of the city and that the company hasn't properly studied how much fine dust would be created and what health impacts there could be. Some workers at the Port are against it as well.

Bill Aboudi is President of AB Trucking and says the proposed site is already being used as a vital staging area for truckers trying to pick up and deliver at the congested Port.

"The container space is in high demand," Aboudi said. "We don't know where to put stuff. Now they're moving truckers out of the area for this proposed project, which dumps the truckers into the community or further out from Oakland, when our business is here in Oakland."

Eagle Rock declined an on-camera interview Tuesday, but a statement from the Port of Oakland said the facility would provide important construction material to the Bay Area and went on to say that "the proposed project has several environmental-related features that exceed current regulatory requirements including electric trucks for delivery of construction materials, measures to minimize dust from the project site, and an aggressive strategy to reduce vessel emissions."

But Beveridge said "minimizing" or "reducing" new emissions is an admission that the Port will be sending more pollution into the area.

"You know," he said, "I'm not if the business of figuring out how the port should be run or where aggregate facilities should be. I'm in the business of saying, you can't dump on this community anymore."

The environmental group's attorney said they intend to sue the Port for violating the California Environmental Quality Act if they approve the project without more study about the possible health effects of the dust that would be created.

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