Group: port traffic makes Georgetown and South Park residents feel sick

A group on Wednesday released a study saying that a majority of Georgetown and South Park residents believe trucks and other Port of Seattle operations are making them ill.

 The survey, released by Puget Sound Sage, showed that 63 percent of Georgetown and South Park residents surveyed believe emissions from Port of Seattle trucks are making them sick; 56 percent believe truck traffic and poor truck management pose a danger to pedestrians and car drivers; and 75 percent of survey participants want the port to reduce the pollution, noise, and pedestrian and traffic safety hazards it causes. The door-to-door survey of 230 households was conducted summer of 2009.

 “For the past three years, the Port of Seattle has ignored community pleas at public hearings for a health impact study of port trucking,” said Puget Sound Sage Executive Director David West. “In the absence of a port response, residents are taking matters into their own hands, starting with the survey and likely continuing with a public proposal for a comprehensive health study of the neighborhood.”

 Port spokeswoman Charla Skaggs, though, said there’s hardly a lack of response:

She said in an email, “We have a truck plan that was implemented in April and work with the neighborhood associations regularly.  Just this past summer we made overnight parking for up to 100 trucks available free of charge near Terminal 25 South and we have been working with the City for help with enforcing existing parking regulations, rerouting trucks, and reducing idling in and around neighborhoods.”

Skaggs said, “With the Port of Tacoma and Port Metro Vancouver, BC, we adopted the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy.  Our clean truck plan is a component of that strategy.  We have focused  our efforts on reducing emissions in and around our harbor where people live and work – and not just from trucks.  We are also reducing emissions from cargo-handling equipment and the ships that call at our cargo and cruise terminals.”

She added, “Everyone shares the goal of cleaner air; I understand that the plans we are implementing may not mirror the plans favored by others.  We believe that the steps we are taking now will get us to the goal of cleaner air sooner.”

Still, West said the health concerns are real. He and others argue the port is not doing enough.

  • According to Public Health – Seattle & King County, children in the South Park, Georgetown and Beacon Hill area have the highest asthma hospitalization rate in King County, and residents of these neighborhoods can expect to die an average of 2.5 years sooner than other King County residents.
  • The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency reports that the average particulate matter concentration in Georgetown and South Park is the highest in King County, and for Seattle and Tacoma residents living close to freeways, ports or industrial areas, the risk of getting cancer from breathing toxic air pollutants is more than 27 times higher than the national average — 1,000 potential cases per million people as compared with 36 potential cases per million. 

“Once again, lower income communities and communities of color are dealing disproportionately with the impacts of heavy port trucks and airplanes,” said Joyce Tseng, Community Coalition for Environmental Justice board member in a press release. “We know diesel pollution is a major risk factor for cancer and asthma. The port needs to do more to study the local effects on these small neighborhoods, but they have refused to do so.”

“If we are truly serious about our environment, there is no better place to start than in those communities that have taken a disproportionate toll health-wise by living under such conditions,” said King County Councilmember Larry Gossett in the release.

“Georgetown and South Park residents have waited long enough,” said Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata in the release. “It’s long past time for the Seattle Port Commission to lead in reducing air pollution.”

Residents of Georgetown and South Park also have asked the port to institute a comprehensive Clean Trucks Plan, like the one used so successfully at the Port of Los Angeles, but to no avail, West said.

“Current port plans require low-income, independent, contracted truck drivers to foot the cost of retrofitting their rigs so they release fewer emissions, or of buying new rigs at $100,000 a pop,” West said. “This won’t work. These independent drivers cannot afford to pay for retrofitting. It will only delay a realistic pollution solution for years.”

“The port’s current plan to clean up diesel pollution is deeply flawed,” agreed Brady Montz, chair of the Sierra Club’s Seattle Group. “We’re facing daily doses of highly toxic diesel soot in our homes, schools and parks for years to come, and there’s no evidence that the port’s plan will work.”

“Georgetown and South Park residents have waited long enough,” said Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata. “It’s long past time for the Seattle Port Commission to lead in reducing air pollution by adopting a comprehensive Clean Trucks Plan.”

Truckers make an estimated 3,000 trips per day to and from the docks at the Port of Seattle, according to port figures. Many of these trucks drive through Georgetown and South Park, park on local streets overnight, and stop at related businesses in the neighborhood such as truck and trailer repair shops and container storage companies, often leaving their trucks idling and filling the air with toxins and noise.

 

“A hallmark of good public leadership is listening, and the port clearly hasn’t been listening to this community,” said West. “The price for this leadership failure by port officials is being paid by the families in this community. Port neighbors have a right to know what port activities are doing to their health, and a right to ask the port to behave more responsibly.”

 

Individual phone and in-person interviews with residents affected by port trucks can be arranged.

 

I would love to talk to you about this.  We have a truck plan that was implemented in April and work with the neighborhood associations regularly.  Just this past summer we made overnight parking for up to 100 trucks available free of charge near Terminal 25 South and we have been working with the City for help with enforcing existing parking regulations, rerouting trucks, and reducing idling in and around neighborhoods.

With the Port of Tacoma and Port Metro Vancouver, BC, we adopted the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy.  Our clean truck plan is a component of that strategy.  We have focused  our efforts on reducing emissions in and around our harbor where people live and work – and not just from trucks.  We are also reducing emissions from cargo-handling equipment and the ships that call at our cargo and cruise terminals.

Everyone shares the goal of cleaner air; I understand that the plans we are implementing may not mirror the plans favored by others.  We believe that the steps we are taking now will get us to the goal of cleaner air sooner.

4 Responses to Group: port traffic makes Georgetown and South Park residents feel sick

  • CATman3406:

    Once again the green coalition of labor backed wacko groups want to take away our right to individual truck ownership. The Clean Truck Plan they want implimented has nothing to do with cleaning up the environment. The green groups employee-mandate attachment of the LA CTP is only a ploy to rid the port of the owner-operator trucker clearing the way making it easier to unionize an entire new work force of drivers now working as employees on company owned trucks. If this was really about environmental pollution the port could establish emmision test standards to certify trucks who wish to enter the port and allow others who fail a certain time period to make those corrections to either meet the new standard or else not get a port permit. It would be a simple issue with a secure decal system in place. At least that gives us the owner-operator trucker the chance to upgrade our trucks. This employee-mandate baloney is just more phoney political propaganda by the green coalition to take away more of our rights in America. What’s next? Ban the small family farmer from owning property? Give us a break!

  • railjockey:

    I am an owner/operator trucker. Most truckers here don’t want anything to do with the Teamsters after discovering their scheme to use the environment as an excuse to ban the O/O trucker from working. They are just causing us more problems we don’t need in this weak economy right now. To the Teamsters air quality is the excuse they have been looking for to increase their membership numbers. They’ll force us to become company drivers while they trample our right to ownership hiding behind this clean air mask. I won’t remain silent while these people attack my right to own a small business. This clean truck plan that includes any part of an employee mandate by the port is anti-American.

  • Can Hauler:

    I’m a little tired of anyone writing stories like this and not seeking all the facts. I’m an owner-operator working the ports for 30 years now. I want the pollution to stop, and I’m willing to do my part. The system in place needs to change the way it sets the rates for owner-operator pay. Why do the ports want to give grants to private companies to subsidize the purchase of new trucks. That money will only draw in the big corporations that will say yes to all the stipulations and still do it their own way. While doing all this they will put the local companies out of business. Change the rates we get paid! If you doubled the pay on a load of imports(say a load of shoes), the cost per pair of shoes would be 5-7 cents. I’m not kidding you! The problem is that every greedy son of a “B” in the chain, that touches the paperwork for that load will double their price. Most of them already make more than the trucking companies does.
    If my pay increased I can afford to do better maintenance and eventually upgrade my truck, with NO public funds. Don’t listen to the Teamsters or Change To Win, their motives are to simply improve their bank account. More mwmbers, more dues, means more money for them to spend.

  • JasonG:

    So the issue here is you want newer cleaner or environmentally friendly updated trucks operating at the port? Than push the federal government to start enforcing the laws on the books which offer protection to the owner-operators such as “truth-n-leasing”. We can then collect on money we are presently getting screwed out of using that to purchase new trucks or update the ones we own now. This is the kind of help truckers really need.

    Get rid of the dozens of unscrupulous motor carriers working the port who are allowed to take advantage of the owner-operator without fear of any government enforcement. Other carriers who try to operate a legitimate business would also like to see them go. It hard to compete fairly in a transportation marketplace where a certain percentage of carriers or their agencies are breaking the law in order to discount rates.

    I’m just sick of hearing that we’ll never be able to purchase decent equipment like the big carriers or upgrade our trucks. That’s BS. I own a 2003 Peterbuilt tractor but I guess that’s considered junk in the eyes of the green army attacking us?

    It’s all about getting paid for the work we already do. Do something about that instead of backing this ignorant so-called green plan to remove the individual driver who owns a truck from intermodal hauling. That’s plain stupid.

    ///“Current port plans require low-income, independent, contracted truck drivers to foot the cost of retrofitting their rigs so they release fewer emissions, or of buying new rigs at $100,000 a pop,” West said. “This won’t work. These independent drivers cannot afford to pay for retrofitting. It will only delay a realistic pollution solution for years, says David West.”///

    This Sage Executive Director David West is just speaking a pre-written script supplied him by the rest of the green coalition gang members.

    Yes, that’s exactly what they act like, gang members threatening hard working truckers with a truck ownership ban. They’re the new green coalition gang conspiring to replace us with company owned trucks. What the Hell does this guy or any of the rest of these thugs know about trucking or truckers? Very little it appears to me…