SAN DIEGO - A battle is brewing over the Port of San Diego's plan to expand the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.
The Port has drawn up plans to reconfigure the terminal, where massive cargo containers are loaded and unloaded daily. Dole is a primary resident at the facility that the Port said last year generates more than $3.5 billion every year for the San Diego economy. An expansion would increase that considerably.
On Wednesday, the Environmental Health Coalition said an expansion would also increase the pollution in the nearby community of Barrio Logan.
"We have hundreds and hundreds of semis coming through here," said Barrio Logan resident Brent Beltran.
Beltran said the expansion would add more tractor-trailer traffic along Harbor Drive, which borders Barrio Logan. The Environmental Health Coalition said the neighborhood already has some of the worst air quality in the state. It said it also has three times as many hospitalizations because of asthma than any other part of San Diego County.
"If you're going to expand it to the point where say a hundred more semis are on the streets, that's a hundred more semis that are putting pollutants in the air," said Beltran. "We end up getting more pollution. We end up getting more traffic, more parking issues."
The Port of San Diego emailed 10News a statement regarding the EHC's comments:
"Environmental stewardship is a guiding priority of the Port of San Diego. The Port commissioned an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to fully study the potential impacts, mitigation measures and alternatives for the proposed Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal modernization plan.
A draft of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was circulated for public review from June 30 to August 18, 2016, per the California Environmental Quality Act and our standard 45 day comment period for gathering stakeholder input. We received nine public comment letters which the Port is taking into consideration and will provide responses with our final draft EIR.
We appreciate the interest and concern our community has expressed in this significant project, as well as their support in ensuring we are balancing our responsibilities to be environmental stewards and regional economic drivers, both of which allow us to serve our people and our community."
Beltran, however, isn't buying it. He said he will fight the expansion as much as possible.
"I don't think other communities would put up with what we have to put up with in Barrio Logan," he said.