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Diane Bailey’s Blog

Trucks Continue to Idle in West Oakland

Diane Bailey

Posted August 16, 2012 in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment

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Diesel truck idling persists at the Port of Oakland posing a health hazard to workers and the surrounding community.  With California’s strict idling limits long in place and a positive recent enforcement report from the state Air Resources Board, you would think that truck idling is no longer a problem.  Yet Webcam views at the port reveal repeated long lines at one port terminal, leaving drivers to wait for hours exposed to the fumes and contributing to hazy conditions for everyone.

Margaret Gordon, Co-Chair of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, always has her ear to the ground on issues impacting her West Oakland community – including residents and truckers.  She brought this problem to our attention several weeks ago.  At that time the truck lines at the port lookSSA Port of Oakland Gate 7 26 2012.pnged endless, leading to significant idling emissions (The image to the right show trucks outside the Port of Oakland SSA terminal on July 26th, 2012).  In addition to the environmental impacts, truck drivers serving the port are having a hard time turning around loads to make a decent living, with the excessive wait times to get inside the terminals.   These are drivers who are likely still paying off recent upgrades to their trucks to cut down on air pollution, a significant step that can only be commended. 

After learning of the lined up trucks idling at the port, we relayed the concern to the Air Resources Board, which promptly contacted the local Air District, both of which should be credited with a quick response.  The Air District sent enforcement staff to StopIdleCar.JPGthe port right away (see the vehicle at left).  However, we would prefer that the port and terminal operators prevent a situation of truck lines and idling in the first place.  Further, the port and terminal operators should be posting the No Idling signs that the Air Resources Board has printed, as required by the Diesel Enforcement bill, AB 233.  These were slated to be posted in priority environmental justice communities, but It’s not clear whether any of the signs have been posted in or near the Port of Oakland.

Several weeks later, we are still hearing from truck drivers about long lines getting into certain terminals.  This is one of several webcam images showing the long lines on August 15th and the hazy air quality conditions.

SSA13Aug152012.jpg

Finally, it must be noted that we are grateful for active members of the community of West Oakland bringing issues like this to our attention.  At the same time that Margaret Gordon was trying to do something about long lines of idling trucks, she was removed from her seat on the Port of Oakland Commission.  This is terrible news for the community of West Oakland, which lost a powerful and well respected environmental justice voice on the Port Commission.  The Port of Oakland released a cheerful newsletter today including an announcement of the newly appointed Commissioners, yet was silent on the fact that they pushed Margaret Gordon off the Commission, effectively squashing the voice of the community. 

Who at the Port of Oakland is looking out for the interests of the community now?  And when will they get the excessive wait times for trucks serving the port under control?  

 

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Comments

Brian BeveridgeAug 21 2012 03:16 PM

Great story. It should be noted that the terminal operators get a waiver of the state idling rule if they have a container pick-up and delivery appointment system in place. Appointments are supposed to reduce wait times, but the systems are not standardized or designed with trucker input. For the most part the appointment systems allow the terminal operators to deflect responsibility for those long lines of idling trucks.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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