The Port of San Diego halted talks on Wednesday with a Nevada based company trying to build a cement warehouse at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.
The project would have dramatically increased diesel truck traffic through San Diego’s portside communities.
Mitsubishi Cement Corporation wanted to ship 600,000 metric tons of cement-making materials to the Port owned terminal, put it in a warehouse, then truck that material around Southern California construction sites.
The project would require between 4,000 and 10,000 diesel powered trucks to drive through Barrio Logan and National City as the material is delivered to Southern California customers.
Local residents were outraged by a project that they called a “mega polluter.” They lobbied hard against the plan when the Port first rejected the proposal in 2020 and again when the project resurfaced last year.
More than 800 people delivered letters or emails to the port asking the agency to reject the proposal.
“We have some of the highest diesel pollution and air pollution in Barrio Logan and National City higher than 95% of the state of California,” said Diane Takvorian, a co-founder of the Environmental Health Coalition.
Mitsubishi was asked to reshape the plan which was rejected in 2020, however, the new proposal failed to offer significant emission free alternatives to the high number of diesel truck traffic the project would create.
The project did not face a vote in front of the Board of Port Commissioners but the public agency acknowledged discussions about moving forward have ended.
“I don’t think it’s completely dead,” Takvorian said. “But I think they got a very clear statement from the community that they will not tolerate this level of pollution.”
“What can we do to make sure we are mitigating our impact and the community is getting something in exchange for our business operations, so we make sure people are not being treated unfairly.”
Rafael Castellanos, Chair of the Board of Port Comissioners
The project is still featured on the cement company’s website, promising to repurpose a port warehouse, create jobs, and establish a local source of cement.
The material is currently trucked into Southern California from the high desert or the Port of Long Beach.
The Port’s Board Chair Rafael Castellanos says the Mitsubishi business model relied too much on fossil fuel vehicles and portside neighbors were not having it.
That required the local agency to reassess.
“Look at what the long-term view is and make different decisions based on where you’re trying to get,” Castellanos said. “And in this case it’s time to step back and re-evaluate how we might get there and continue to work and see if we can hit our goals.”
The Port recently adopted a Maritime Clean Air Strategy that created the roadmap for the agency to move toward zero emission vehicles at its waterfront locations. That includes replacing fossil fuel powered vehicles wherever possible.
“What can we do to make sure we are mitigating our impact and the community is getting something in exchange for our business operations, so we make sure people are not being treated unfairly,” Castellanos said.
Castellanos said approving such a massive increase in diesel truck traffic would keep the Port from hitting goals to have facilities be emission free by 2030.