Long Beach port expansion plans move forward after final environmental impact report

Plans for a $750 million expansion at the Port of Long Beach's Middle Harbor are moving forward. KPCC's Molly Peterson says the port released a final environmental report today.

Molly Peterson: Shipments through the harbor complex are down by double digits. But Art Wong from the port of Long Beach points out that unemployment's in the double digits too. Wong says the Middle Harbor project could mean a thousand temporary jobs over the next decade, and 14,000 permanent jobs when it's done.

Art Wong: We expect the economy to bounce back. Ports around the country are moving forward with projects that will compete with our facilities here. We need to upgrade because we need the best facilities so that we can continue to keep these jobs here.

Peterson: The state connects thousands of deaths a year to air pollution from the ports. Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Adrian Martinez says plans for Middle Harbor would be like dropping another port the size of Vancouver's into an already busy place.

Adrian Martinez: The project needs to make sure it reduces pollution from ships and locomotives. Another thing is to make sure there's enough mitigation for community impacts. That's the biggest issue, just making sure the community's not shortchanged in this deal.

Peterson: The port's recommending $15 million to reduce pollution in surrounding neighborhoods. Long Beach harbor commissioners will vote to move the project forward by the middle of this month.

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