Our community has several concerns with the WesPac Crude Oil transport and storage facility that is being proposed for the city of Pittsburg.
Disregard for the neighborhoods: The neighborhood adjacent to the WesPac project was built at a time when the African-American population could not purchase homes anywhere else. It was built specifically for them and has remained a minority, low- to very low-income neighborhood.
The Population and Housing chapter of the draft EIR talks about the city as a whole. The only impact, which is shown as "less than significant," says, "It is not anticipated that the proposed project would reduce nearby property values. However, while it is reasonable to anticipate that some existing homeowners may decide to relocate as a result of the reactivation and operation of the existing terminal, it is not reasonable nor foreseeable to anticipate that these homes would be left unoccupied."
So what WesPac is saying is, "Let them move, it is not our problem. These people are less than significant."
WesPac talks about other industrial properties that have not affected home values. What its analysis fails to point out is that there are adequate buffers between those industrial properties and homes. Dow Chemical purchased the property to its east in order to create a buffer between them and homes. There is no buffer between the WesPac project and the homes, schools and churches.
Jobs Creation: WesPac talks about creating 295 temporary jobs and 40 permanent jobs. This could have a positive effect if WesPac were to guarantee that 50 percent of its total work force, both temporary and permanent, would be dedicated to Pittsburg residents. If WesPac is expecting the residents of Pittsburg to accept all of the negative impacts, then it should be willing to employ our people.
Noise impacts: As stated in the draft EIR, environmental noise is defined as "unwanted sound resulting from vibrations in the air. Excessive noise can cause annoyance and adverse health effects. Annoyance can include sleep disturbance and speech
interference. It can also distract attention and make activities more difficult to perform (EPA, 1978)."
Any noise above the current ambient noise level is "unwanted" and will affect the homes, schools, churches and other sensitive receptors in the adjacent neighborhoods.
WesPac claims that any unwanted noise will be coming from the movement of the railcars during the night. It says that because the railroads cannot be regulated by either local or state government, it is not its problem.
Spills/Releases: WesPac states that, "Generally, small leaks and spills (up to 50 barrels) would be easily contained with contingency measures employed at the terminal."
An accidental release of 2,100 gallons (50 barrels x 42 gallons) of crude oil may be small by the project's standards, but it is quite significant not only to the water habitat, but also to the neighborhoods east of the project. This "insignificance" relates to several areas of the EIR, which show that no mitigation measures are required or that the impact is "significant but unavoidable."
Hazardous Materials: In light of the four derailments and explosions that have occurred within the last six months, including one in Quebec that took the lives of 47 people and literally destroyed a town, we need to take a much closer look at how we will protect the population of Pittsburg. We also know what partially processed petroleum can do, as witnessed by the explosion at the Chevron refinery in August 2012.
We already know the explosive power of crude oil. We also know that the chemicals that make up crude oil are a danger to those who breath its vapors. We have been told by WesPac that explosions and releases to the environment are either less than significant or are significant but unavoidable.
WesPac describes 130 impacts that this project will have on the environment and the residents of Pittsburg. It shows that 97 of those impacts are "less than significant." At what point does that many "less than significant" impacts cumulatively create a significant issue?
There are 13 impacts that are "potentially significant." These are the only impacts that have any mitigation measures attached.
The final 20 impacts are being listed as "significant but unavoidable." Any project with that many unavoidable and unmitigated impacts should not be allowed in Pittsburg.
This project will negatively affect our city for generations.
Frank Gordon is a resident of Pittsburg and is part of the Pittsburg Defense Council, which is trying to stop the approval of the WesPac oil terminal in Pittsburg.