Cesar Chavez Park and Pier are about 1,500 feet to the southeast of the warehouse.
A plan to build a massive new warehouse on the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal has reignited the fight over truck pollution in Barrio Logan.
If approved by port commissioners on December 8, the Mitsubishi Cement Corporation warehouse, located along San Diego Bay and adjacent to Barrio Logan, would begin operations in 2023.
Diesel truck that can haul 29 tons of rocks, sand, cement. The coalition asks that at least 30 percent of truck trips be electric when operations begin in 2021.
Will zero emissions trucks spare the air?
Not any time soon, a feasibility study has found. Heavy duty electric trucks capable of hauling cement "are not commercially available today." By 2023, the outlook is better but barriers such as range, vehicle cost and charging must be overcome, and "use of zero emission trucks is likely still infeasible."
The state will require more than half of vehicles sold to be zero emissions by 2035 and all of them by 2045. But when the cement trucks start rolling in two years, 2,000 more monthly diesel truck trips, a 50 percent increase, will add to poor air quality throughout Barrio Logan and west National City, neighborhoods already among the most polluted in the state.
"Air pollution from diesel trucks is a very significant problem" in these portside communities, says Danny Serrano, a spokesman for Environmental Health Coalition, an advocacy group calling for a whole new zero emissions plan for the cement trucks.
Cesar Chavez Park and Pier are about 1,500 feet to the southeast of the warehouse, and several schools are nearby. Serrano says children in Barrio Logan have 2-3 times more asthma than the county average. "These trucks will make it so much worse."
The city council passed a resolution in 2018 to divert trucks away from the neighborhood, but some drivers ignore it, says the coalition. Currently the Port of San Diego, the San Diego Association of Governments, and the California Department of Transportation are considering "Harbor Drive 2.0," a new and improved haul road.
Still, diverting trucks away from homes doesn't stop the drift of exhaust. The solution sought by the Environmental Health Coalition is an overhaul of the proposed zero emissions vehicle strategy.
"The only requirement proposed thus far is one demonstration electric truck," Serrano says.
The zero emissions feasibility study, conducted by two consultants hired by the port district, found that battery electric trucks currently have low feasibility for both the 130-mile and 300-mile range. But Serrano says the project's average daily range is 124 miles, and there are several zero emissions trucks available now that can handle that without recharging.
"This was backed up by the Port’s subsequent zero emissions vehicle feasibility study." These trucks are available today, and many more options are expected by 2023, he adds.
The group is urging Port staff to require a different plan that would call for an increasing number of zero emissions heavy duty trucks, getting to 100 percent by 2030.
They recommend that charging facilities be installed in 2021, at least 30 percent of truck trips be electric when operations begin, and that there be a 10 percent increase each year after until all trucks meet the goal.
The challenge is about logistics, not feasibility, Serrano says. It requires businesses to change their operations to accommodate electric trucks.
The Port's response to the call for the cleanest possible trucks is that the mitigation measures proposed are more than sufficient. At least 90 percent of the trucks loading cement at the terminal must have an engine "that emits no more than would be expected of a 5-year-old truck during the entirety of project operations.
These measures are well beyond the requirements of the District’s Clean Truck Program, as well as CARB’s drayage truck, and truck and bus rules."