A congressman and a councilman-elect are urging Metrolink to assess the health risks of its operations at Taylor Yards on surrounding communities in Cypress Park and Elysian Valley.
People living in northeast L.A. have long expressed concern about diesel particulate matter emitted by locomotives and other equipment at the Metrolink facility. So far, Metrolink has resisted community calls to conduct a health risk assessment.
Congressman Adam Schiff said Taylor Yard trains are noisy and dirty. “Metrolink has consistently failed to address community fears about the health risk of living near the facility and stonewalled calls for a health assessment," said Schiff.
L.A. City Councilman-elect Mitch O’Farrell also boosted calls for a study. “As a Councilmember, I will demand nothing less than a health risk assessment, because if we don’t have a baseline of where we are now, then we won’t know how to proceed,” said O’Farrell.
Metrolink has long defended its operations at Taylor Yards, pointing out that mass transit helps keep freeway maintenance and construction costs down, even as it touted its efforts to cut emissions.
Last year the yard's neighbors wrote to Metrolink’s John Fenton arguing that “with more than 30 locomotives serviced daily, often idling for 2 or more hours each, they are creating a hazardous environment for our community’s health and our children.” Following petitions and public meetings, Metrolink began running a quarter of its trains on electric power while they were idling, and taking other measures to cut pollution.
Northeast LA Residents for Clean Air Coalition has commended Metrolink for its voluntary measures to cut emissions. But concerns about the health effects of diesel soot loom large, inflamed by the World Health Organization’s finding last summer that particulate matter from diesel engines causes cancer.
Last year KCET’s Departures talked to Ceci Dominguez, a 40-year Elysian Valley resident:
When you went to the doctor, you didn't question him, you drink your medicine. You listen to what the teachers have to say about your children. We now realize that's not the case with our air quality. No one is watching this yard. What about the health of our community? We have now become the caretakers.