To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Hwy. 99 tunnel: Bertha hasn’t budged while labor dispute continues

The tunnel machine remains stalled because of a stalemate over which union will remove the excavated dirt.


By Mike Lindblom, September 6, 2013

The massive Highway 99 tunnel project has now lost three weeks to delays, as the dispute continues over which union will load the excavated muck onto barges.

It’s unclear how or how soon this stalemate over eight jobs will be resolved so the machine can resume its 1.7-mile trek from Sodo to South Lake Union.

Construction firms intend to use building-trades union members to operate a conveyor belt, scoop dirt with a front-end loader, and position the barges off Terminal 46 along the Seattle waterfront. They say these tasks support the overall $1.4 billion tunnel contract, and a project labor agreement.

But the International Longshore and Warehouse Union says those jobs — two daily shifts of four workers — are in ILWU territory, because they entail moving materials offshore.

So far, the Seattle Tunnel Partners construction team hasn’t tried to send workers past an ILWU picket line, which could provoke a confrontation.

Tunnel-boring machine Bertha has been marooned by the labor dispute for the last two weeks, officials say. Before that, the machine advanced a mere 24 feet since drilling began July 30, slowed by fiberglass rods that clogged a screw-type conveyor.

The machine is supposed to reach South Lake Union in about 14 months.

The machine’s rotary cutting head has broken through the concrete launch pit into Sodo soil, yet the rear of the cylinder remains in the pit.

When drilling resumes, the mixture of excavated dirt and rock will be barged to the Mats Mats quarry near Port Townsend.

Hearings are under way at the National Labor Relations Board office in downtown Seattle, where the building trades have formally accused the longshore union of “economic coercion and threats” to undermine the project labor agreement.

The ILWU signed a contract in April with tunneling firms that included the four waterfront jobs, but an arbitrator said in July the building-trades pact takes precedence.

Testimony at the NLRB resumes Tuesday. The record will be forwarded to Washington, D.C., where the five-member board would issue a ruling within weeks, said regional director Ronald Hooks.
The board will be urged to act promptly, because of the stoppage, he said.

Between 20 and 30 longshoremen a day have walked the picket line at T-46, said Cam Williams, president of ILWU Local 19 in Seattle.

Williams wouldn’t predict what happens next on the waterfront if the NLRB rules against the longshoremen.

“We’ll picket as long as we have to, until a resolution is met,” he said.

The Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) team is led by Dragados USA and Tutor-Perini, employing about 250 construction workers.

Last month, project director Chris Dixon said his team previously offered to split the jobs, so the ILWU would handle the barge mooring, while operating engineers and carpenters run the conveyor and a front-end loader.

Dixon’s spokesman referred questions Friday to the state Department of Transportation, which commented: “STP has a contractual obligation to open the tunnel by the end of 2015 and that is what we are holding them responsible to meet.”

CLEAN AIR: A promise still elusive for Inland region

The federal Clean Air Act of 1970 prompted changes that led to dramatic air quality improvements, but some Inland communities still don’t meet standards


 By David Danelski, September 5, 2013


 President Jimmy Carter amended the Clean Air Act by requiring the EPA to review scientific studies on air pollution health effects every five years and then adjust the health standards for each major pollutant as needed to protect people. 

 An overhaul of the Clean Air Act spurred a new era of tailpipe and smokestack regulations and had bipartisan support unheard of today. It sailed through the House and Senate with just one dissenting vote. President Richard Nixon signed it eagerly.

An overhaul of the Clean Air Act spurred a new era of tailpipe and smokestack regulations and had bipartisan support unheard of today. It sailed through the House and Senate with just one dissenting vote. President Richard Nixon signed it eagerly.

Guaranteeing healthful air for all Americans was a political no-brainer for Congress back in 1970.
The Clean Air Act spurred a new era of tailpipe and smokestack regulations and had bipartisan support unheard of today. It sailed through the House and Senate with just one dissenting vote. President Richard Nixon signed it eagerly.

“This is the most important piece of legislation, in my opinion, dealing with the problem of clean air that we have this year and the most important in our history,” Nixon said at the bill signing ceremony.
Nixon had created the U.S. Environmental Protect Agency earlier that year.

project_barAt the time, public attention focused on smog-choked Southern California, on Midwest rivers so polluted that they caught fire, and on the devastating effects of pesticides like DDT on eagles and other wildlife

Nixon felt that a strong federal role in cleaning up the environment was a political inevitability, so he embraced it, said S. David Freeman, who was an attorney in the Nixon administration and later served as the head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

quoteNixon’s motives also were political, Freeman said an interview. The president feared that if he didn’t take strong actions to protect the environment, Democrats would seize the issue and use it against him in the 1972 election.

The Clean Air Act set health standards, which are essentially legal limits, for various pollutants in all regions of the nation.

President Jimmy Carter later amended the act by requiring the EPA to review scientific studies on air pollution health effects every five years and then adjust the health standards for each major pollutant as needed to protect people.

One of the most persistent air pollutants in Southern California is ozone, a lung-irritating, corrosive gas that forms when airborne emissions cook in the summer heat. The current health standard for ozone — .075 parts per million parts of air averaged over eight hours — was set by the George W. Bush administration in 2008.

President Barack Obama angered environmentalists in 2011 by delaying the EPA’s plan to impose a tougher ozone standard recommended by the agency’s science advisers. The panel of scientists from around the nation reviewed scientific research and concluded that the Bush standard didn’t sufficiently protect people.

Obama said in 2011 that he wanted to wait until this year to give the economy time to improve. Now the EPA isn’t expected to propose a new standard until sometime next year.

So far in 2013, ozone levels in Southern California have surpassed the current ozone standard on 83 days. The smog season got off to a fast start — in June, only two days met the federal ozone standard in the air basin between the Pacific Ocean and the San Bernardino Mountains.

Riverside as seen from Box Springs Mountain. Ozone levels in Southern California have surpassed the current standard of 83 days so far this year.
The region faces a 2024 deadline to meet the ozone standard every day.

The most recent data also shows that the average levels of fine-particle pollution still exceed the federal standard in Mira Loma, Rubidoux, Fontana, Ontario, South Central Los Angeles and parts of the San Gabriel Valley. Fine particles are linked to heart attacks, brain ailments and shorter lives, among other harm.

We have a long way to go before we realize the vision of the Clean Air Act, Freeman said.
Failure to meet health standards means that some people are getting sick and dying from the air they breathe, Freeman said in an address to health and environmental journalists last year at USC.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study released this month estimated that more than 200,000 people die each year because of air pollution.

“The house is still burning down,” Freeman said, yet “There is no sense of urgency.”

HEALTH: Children are more vulnerable to air pollution effects

Children breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults


By David Danelski, September 5, 2013

A women and child walk along the Mt Vernon bridge that goes over the BNSF Railway San Bernardino Yard on Friday, August 23, 2013 in San Bernardino. 

 San Bernardino children from left to right, Marco Garcia, 8, Bryan Martinez, 9, Frank Contreras, 12, and Rember Mancilla, 6, play soccer together as a semi truck passes by outside the Nunez Sports Field in San Bernardino on Saturday, August 24, 2013.
 San Bernardino children from left to right, Marco Garcia, 8, Bryan Martinez, 9, Frank Contreras, 12, and Rember Mancilla, 6, play soccer together as a semi truck passes by outside the Nunez Sports Field in San Bernardino on Saturday, August 24, 2013. 

Biologically speaking, “children are not just little adults,” says Ed Avol, a USC preventive medicine professor and member of national science committee that advises the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on outdoor air health standards.

Because their brains and other organs are still developing, the toxic effects of pollution can cause damage that has the potential to affect them for the rest of their lives.

“It is like if you mix the cement poorly when you are building the base of a building, the building forever will have a bad base,” Avol said.
Children also get a bigger dose of whatever is in the air:
Compared with adults, they breathe more air per pound of body weight.

They also spend more time outside and are more physically active, which further increases their exposure to air pollution.

Their internal air passageways are smaller, which means more lung tissue surface is exposed per volume of air.

The list of known or suspected potential harm to children is long and getting longer. It includes low birth weight, birth defects, autism, asthma and other lung disorders, learning problems and obesity.

This report was produced in part with a grant from the Lucile Packard Foundation for Chlidren's Health Journalism Fund, awarded by the USC Annenberg School for Journalism.

AIR QUALITY: Warehouse plan closely watched


By David Danelski, September 7, 2013

 Karen Jakpor, a physician and asthma sufferer, has led the opposition against the proposed World Logistics Center mega-warehouse complex sought for Moreno Valley. Jakpor's asthma forced her to give up her practice as an obstetrician and gives her trouble walking up stairs and performing other basic physical tasks. 

 Forklift operator Victor Hernandez navigates through the warehouse at Pacific Mountain Logistics in Ontario. Some believe warehouses will help reduce the Inland region's poverty. Several Pacific Mountain workers -- including CEO and President B.J. Patterson -- began as minimum-wage employees and worked their way up.
 Forklift operator Victor Hernandez navigates through the warehouse at Pacific Mountain Logistics in Ontario. Some believe warehouses will help reduce the Inland region's poverty. Several Pacific Mountain workers -- including CEO and President B.J. Patterson -- began as minimum-wage employees and worked their way up. 

A big rig travels past the Sketchers warehouse in Moreno Valley. The warehouse sector has created more than 5,000 jobs in the Inland area since beginning of 2012, says economist John Husing,

MoreA big rig travels past the Sketchers warehouse in Moreno Valley. The warehouse sector has created more than 5,000 jobs in the Inland area since beginning of 2012, says economist John Husing, 

Moreno Valley, a city embroiled in scandals that last month saw one City Council member resign after his arrest on fraud charges, also is a testing ground in the struggle to balance the need for jobs and the imperative for clean air.

City staff members are processing plans by a local developer to build a warehousing hub covering the equivalent of 700 football fields. A hearing and City Council vote are expected before the end of the year, but residents already have taken verbal shots at the project during public meetings. At the same time, the remaining four council members face a federal political corruption probe and citizen-backed recall efforts.

Moreno Valley leaders have promoted the World Logistics Center as an economic savior for the job- and revenue-strapped city, where the unemployment rate is 12.9 percent. The Inland region’s rate is 11 percent.

City-hired economists say the warehouse complex could put more than 20,000 people to work and pump as much $2.6 billion a year into the city’s economy.

But the center would be a major polluter, attracting, by one estimate, as many as 29,000 diesel truck trips a day. Air quality regulators say emissions would be comparable to the pollution from an oil refinery. Moreno Valley doesn’t have its own air monitoring station, but it is bordered by three areas — Riverside, Perris and Redlands — that have unhealthful air quality on dozens of days each year.

People living as far as 20 miles away would face an increased cancer risk because of the additional truck traffic along Highway 60 in Jurupa Valley, Riverside and Moreno Valley, according to projections in the city’s environment analysis of the project.

Amanda Markel, 28, who was born and raised in Moreno Valley, said she blames the current pollution for the asthma that has stricken three of her four children, ages 8 months to 8 years. The condition does not run in her family, she said.

Kailyn LaSalle, 14, of Moreno Valley, has been suffering from asthma all her life and takes medication daily to help control her breathing. She has been hospitalized about 20 times, including six stays in intensive care. Her last Christmas was spent in the hospital.
It’s nearly impossible to know what caused the children’s asthma, but research has found that air pollution increases the risk of a child developing asthma and also triggers asthma episodes.

Markel held her baby son, Sawyer, at a picnic table in a park near their home on a recent weekday. Two-year-old daughter Audrey fidgeted at her side. It was good day to be out, one of the few mid-August days when ozone pollution didn’t exceed the federal health standard.

Sawyer was hospitalized in earlier this year for pneumonia, she said, and every day she uses a clear plastic mask attached to a machine called a nebulizer to give Sawyer breathing medication.

“There are days when I am driving, and I can’t believe this layer of filth that we are breathing in constantly,” she said.

She and her husband, an accountant for Southern California Edison, have discussed moving to Northern California, she said. “Redding, California, is beautiful and there is no pollution.”

Redlands economist John Husing, a consultant for government agencies and developers, wrote one of two economic reports for city that said the warehousing center would create tens of thousands of jobs.

Video:  http://embed.vidyard.com/share/jvFqmMDD58gUwjs33vK2ag

He contends that building warehouses should be a higher priority than curbing air pollution because they provide good jobs needed by people who don’t have college educations. The benefits of putting people to work, allowing them to afford better health care and improve their standard of living in other ways, play a far bigger role in improving overall public health than reducing air pollution does, he says.

Husing’s position is that warehouse opposition and air pollution cleanup demands are threatening a business sector that has created more than 5,000 jobs in the Inland area since beginning of 2012. The logistics positions were added in what the state categorizes as warehousing, transportation and wholesale trade sectors.

quoteThere are definitely more warehouses on the way, and not only in Moreno Valley. About 112 million square feet of warehouse space has been proposed since 2010, and almost all of it — 97 percent — is in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, according to one analysis.

“A lot of people don’t want to hear this, but logistics to the Inland Empire is what tech is to the Silicon Valley,” Husing said. “Kill this sector and you are saying to the poor: ‘Stay there.’ The only thing that will be left for them will be flipping burgers and janitorial work.”
Former Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge disagrees.

“We don’t have to give up on air quality to have economic development that meets the needs of our region,” said Loveridge, who now directs UC Riverside’s Center for Sustainable Suburban Development.

Forty years of remarkable air pollution reductions shows Southern California can grow its economy and clean up its air basin, he said.
“We need a vision built on the assets of this region, and I don’t see it as sea of warehouses,” said Loveridge, who served more than a decade on the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

Loveridge said he is not convinced that warehouses will go very far toward reducing poverty. Much of the warehouse work is temporary and pays minimum wage, and thus is “no better than fast food,” he said.

Wrightwood resident B.J. Patterson, CEO and president of Pacific Mountain Logistics, said he worked his way up to be top manager of about 405,000 square feet of warehouses in eastern Ontario that employ about 45 people. He started as a temporary beginning laborer or “lumper” after he served in Desert Storm.

Patterson said he knows of several managers who were laborers, often in non-air-conditioned spaces, and now make more than six figures.

“You start off at minimum wage and work your way up from there,” Patterson said.
One of his workers is Kevin Herrera, 19, who started at $8 an hour shortly after he graduated from high school last year. He now earns $11 an hour as a forklift operator. Herrera said plans to leave the job to enroll in college.

In Moreno Valley, Clarence Varnado, 29, said he is looking for a warehouse job and would welcome a local opportunity. He was hunched over a computer at the city’s Employment Resource Center, reviewing job listings.

The single father a 4-year-old boy, Varnado moved to Moreno Valley five months ago to care for his ailing mother, he said.

Although he has three years of experience working at Walmart warehouses in Louisiana, so far only warehouse operators in the Los Angeles area have shown an interest in him, he said. “It’s too far to commute each day.”

A new warehouse complex in Moreno Valley would be good news for him, he said. “I’d be elated, to say the least.”

Video:  http://embed.vidyard.com/share/jvFqmMDD58gUwjs33vK2ag


In the coming months, the Moreno Valley City Council will decide whether to embrace or reject the World Logistics Center proposed by the Highland Fairview Co.

Many residents have raised serious questions about city leaders’ objectivity. Even before the environmental, health and traffic consequences of thousands of truck trips a day were evaluated, city leaders had launched a public relations campaign promoting the project, at taxpayers’ expense.

The city posted on YouTube two professionally produced videos, complete with background music, that trumpet the logistics center’s economic benefits. In the first video released last year, a narrator says: “Developer Highland Fairview is responding to the city’s bold vision for global connectivity and economic development with a state-of-the-art, next-generation logistics center.”

Truck traffic and air pollution that would result from the center were not mentioned.

In an Aug. 22 speech, Mayor Tom Owings said city has “business-ready land” and described the logistics and health industries as “Moreno Valley’s best fit” for economic development to offset its high unemployment rate.

“We won’t be satisfied until every one of the 10,600 unemployed residents of Moreno Valley has a job,” Owings said in his state-of-the city address.

Highland Fairview has positioned itself to develop a medical complex in the city, as well as the warehousing hub.

 City officials also placed a newspaper advertisement that said they were “collaborating” with Highland Fairview to build the 200-acre medical campus. Earlier this year, the city filed a lawsuit in an attempt to shoot down a competing medical development pursued by March Joint Powers Authority on property three miles from the Highland Fairview site.

Some citizens have spoken in support of the World Logistics Center, but most who come to City Council meetings have been opposed. In August, a rally outside City Hall during a council meeting drew about 200 people protesting the project and perceived corruption in city government.


Karen Jakpor, a physician and asthma sufferer, is a leader among those opposing the World Logistics warehouse complex. She is concerned that council members may be swayed by tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations.

 Dr. Karen Jakpor is a Riverside physician who opposes the logistics center. She and her college-student daughter, Otana, have given public presentations that quantify the anticipated traffic and air pollution, and the health problems associated with it.

She is concerned that council members may be swayed by the tens thousands of dollars in campaign donations made by the project’s developer, or companies and individuals closely associated with it.
Jakpor said she worries that foul play could jeopardize any objective consideration of air pollution and health fallout from the World Logistics Center.

In April, the FBI, IRS and district attorney’s investigators served search warrants at the homes of all five council members, the Highland Fairview offices and the home a real estate broker associated with the developer. Authorities said it was part of an ongoing political corruption probe.

Since then, Councilman Marcelo Co was arrested on fraud charges in a separate case in which he is accused of pocketing $15,000 in state aid that was supposed to be used to care for his ailing mother.
He resigned from the council shortly after his arrest. His criminal case is pending.
No charges have been filed against the remaining four council members or others targeted in the searches.

Jakpor said her activism is motivated by her own severe asthma, a chronic illness that has put her in the hospital dozens of times. She has lost count, she said.

Robbed of breath, she had to give up her practice as an obstetrician and has trouble walking up stairs and performing other basic physical tasks. During an interview, she had to pause periodically to catch her breath.

“I don’t want others to suffer as I have,” she said.

Jakpor said she just can’t move away because of her family’s ties to school, church and jobs in the region. Her husband, Riase Jakpor, is a professor San Bernardino Valley College.

Kevin Herrera uses a forklift to move merchandise at Pacific Mountain Logistics in Ontario. Warehouses have proliferated in both Riverside and San Bernardino counties.


The World Logistics Center is part of a larger push for warehouse development growing out of post-recession increase in the volume of cargo arriving at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
The amount cargo processed at ports is now approaching the pre-recession levels of more than 15 million 20-foot container units annually, and the number is projected to double within 15 years, according to the ports.

Husing and logistics industry leaders say the demand from online retailers for customer order fulfillment centers will further increase the potential for warehousing. Amazon.com opened such a center in San Bernardino last year, creating 700 jobs.

The logistics center in Moreno Valley would account for more than a third of the 112 million square feet of warehouse space proposed in the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s jurisdiction since 2010.

In the past, warehouse development resulted in increased cancer in the Inland area, according an air district analysis published in 2008.

Between 1998 and 2005, the northwest Riverside County community of Mira Loma saw many of its dairies leave and warehouses move in. Warehouses also were built along interstates 15 and 215.

In that time, Riverside County’s cancer risk from diesel soot and other toxic air pollutants increased 2 percent, while overall cancer risks in Southern California air pollution dropped by 8 percent, according to the air district report.

Air quality regulators attributed the Riverside County increase to higher volumes of truck traffic serving the warehouses.

Critics of the World Logistics Center say the city hasn’t disclosed all of the air pollution consequences of the warehouse complex and has not detailed any of the costs to the community associated with health care and making the city a less desirable place to live.

Questions also have been raised about the center’s location in eastern Moreno Valley, where residential development had once been planned.

Regional transportation planners have envisioned warehouses concentrated along Interstate 710 in Los Angeles County, west on Highway 60 and north on Interstate 15 and along parts of I-215.

In an interview last year, Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments, said the Moreno Valley stretch of Highway 60 doesn't have the capacity to handle traffic from the World Logistics Center.


Just how many truck trips the World Logistics Center would generate depends on who is offering the estimate.

Moreno Valley’s draft environmental impact report predicts 14,600 trips. A critique of the report by the South Coast air district said the number was low and could be as high as 29,000 trips a day.

An estimate of trips based on the square footage of a warehouse — a formula recommended for planning purposes by the Institute of Transportation Engineers, a nonprofit professional group based in Washington, D.C., that is endorsed by business groups — would put the number at 26,620 trips a day.

Iddo Benzeevi, president and CEO of Highland Fairview, said in April that environmental study estimates are based on worst-case scenarios. He said his 1.8 million-square-foot Skechers building, which opened in eastern Moreno Valley in 2011, has produced only a small fraction of the truck traffic anticipated in the environmental reviews.

Skechers officials did not respond to calls and an email seeking information about the number of trucks the serve its Moreno Valley warehouse.


The city’s draft environment study of the much larger logistics center doesn’t delve into many of the potential health effects reflected in hundreds of scientific studies.

The report describes a significant cancer risk from diesel soot to people living near Highway 60 from the eastern side of Moreno Valley, where the logistics center would be built, and west through Riverside and the Jurupa Valley to Interstate 15.

But cancer is just one of several health risks associated with diesel pollution.

A well-documented short-term health effect of diesel exposure is lung inflammation that can trigger and increase the severity of asthma attacks.

Other immediate health effects of exposure to diesel exhaust include coughs, headaches, lightheadedness and nausea. In studies with human volunteers, people who had allergies became more sensitive to their allergens, such as dust and pollen, after exposure, according to a California Air Resource Board fact sheet.

Of more concern, short-term term exposure to fine-particle pollution can trigger heart attacks, according to a 2010 review of scientific literature by the American Heart Association. Diesel soot is one of the more toxic components of fine-particle pollution.

The proposed World Logistics Center seeks this wheat field in Moreno Valley. The city's environmental report on the center cites a 1998 state report that said not enough data existed from health studies to calculate the short-term health effects of diesel pollution.

The city’s environmental report on the World Logistics Center cited a 1998 state report that said not enough data existed from health studies to calculate the short-term health effects diesel pollution. And, because the health risks can’t be quantified, they should be deemed “less than significant,” the report said, “and no mitigation is required.” It was prepared by LSA Associates of Riverside.

Melody Turner, a California Air Resources Board spokeswoman, said the 1998 report — “Identifying Particulate Emissions from Diesel-Fueled Engines as a Toxic Air Contaminant” — was not meant to guide the preparation of such environmental studies.

“Since 1998, there’s been a vast amount of literature on the adverse health effects of exposure” to particle pollution and diesel soot, Turner wrote in an email.

John Terell, Moreno Valley’s planning official, said several people who submitted letters to the city raised concerns about the how study didn’t delve into health effects other than cancer. Those and other concerns about the report will be addressed in a final version expect to made public in October, he said.


Moreno Valley city officials commissioned two economic analyses of the project, one by Husing and the second by Los Angeles-based Beacon Economics. Both focused on economic benefits and did not examine potential costs.

A more balanced analysis should also look at the costs of increased traffic congestion, health care, and how such projects could reduce real estate values as people seek healthier and less congested places to live, said Jon Haveman, an economist for the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.

Jordan G. Levine is the author of the Beacon analysis, which concluded that the World Logistics Center would bring in some $2.4 billion annually.

He said in an email that his analysis focused on “jobs, economic output, and state and local tax revenues” because his firm was asked by the city to estimate those benefits.

“It is up to the community and policymakers to weigh these and other benefits against the costs of such a project –– health, environmental, and otherwise,” Levine said.

Some economists have calculated health-care costs for pollution-related asthma.

A recent study found that a childhood asthma case in Riverside costs on average $4,000 a year.
Sylvia Brandt, associate professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, followed up on an analysis by University of Southern California medical school researchers who estimated that 700 Riverside children have asthma because of their exposure to traffic pollution.

Brandt’s analysis took into account the billings for medication, emergency rooms visits and hospitalizations, as well as indirect costs such as the lost work time for parents who had to stay home with ailing children or take them to medical appointments.

quoteIn Riverside, the cost of childhood asthma related to freeway air pollution added up to about $2.8 million year, according to Brandt’s study, which was published last year in the European Respiratory Journal.

Brandt said her focus was narrow, quantifying just one cost faced by certain families living near freeways.

“Asthma is a life-long cost,” Brandt said by telephone. “It is a real burden we are putting on these children.”


Amanda Markel, the Moreno Valley mother of three asthmatic children, said the toll is not just financial.

She described how last spring her baby, Sawyer, then 4 months old, had coughing fits and great difficulty breathing. He became lethargic, “like a rag doll,” she said.

She took him to a Kaiser Permanente urgent care, where his severe coughing resumed as she sat with him in the waiting room.
“He was starting to turn colors,” she said.

“Other people in the waiting room were getting worried for me,” Markel said. “One woman was like, ‘Pound on their door!’ and so I was banging on the door and no one was coming. And she went running down the hallway to find a nurse …

“When they finally got him hooked up to the machines, it was a relief. He was able to breathe, finally.”

Her asthmatic baby was diagnosed with pneumonia, and Markel spent the next two days with him in the hospital. She said asthmatic children are more likely to see cold-like symptoms escalate to pneumonia.

Amanda Markel, 28, gives her 8-month-old son, Sawyer, a breathing treatment at their home in Moreno Valley. Out of her four children, three suffer from asthma, which she blames on current pollution levels. Sawyer was hospitalized earlier this year for pneumonia, his mother said.
These days, she regularly uses a nebulizer to treat Sawyer’s and Audrey’s asthma.

On the south side of Moreno Valley, Tiffany LaSalle, an emergency room technician, lives just north of the city’s emerging warehousing district southeast of March Air Reserve Base.

LaSalle said she struggles to control and clean up dust that gets kicked up by nearby truck traffic and warehouse construction two blocks from her home.

The dust aggravates her daughter Kailyn’s severe asthma. Kailyn, 14, has been hospitalized about 20 times, including six stays in intensive care. Her last Christmas was spent at Riverside County Regional Medical Center.

She said her daughter’s hospital bills have been as high as $50,000, but they are covered through the federal Supplemental Security Income program because Kailyn’s asthma is so severe she is considered disabled.

An asthma attack starts with a dizzy feeling, Kailyn said. “You feel like a fish out of water. I am just fading away. I can’t have any air. I can’t breathe. … And it just scares me too much.”

Tears rolled down her mother’s cheeks. “It sucks that as her mother I can’t do anything to take it away to make her feel better,” she said.

LaSalle added that she is reconsidering her decision five years ago to move to Moreno Valley, but doing so would be financially difficult.

“I specifically moved away from LA County to get away from pollution. And I came here, and I feel I am being forced out again,” LaSalle said.

Kailyn LaSalle, 14, has been suffering from asthma all her life and takes medication daily to help her breathing.

Loveridge, the former Riverside mayor, said he recently spent several hours driving around Moreno Valley to get a better idea of the large areas now slated for warehouse development.

The region is at a crossroads, he said. “It is a question of what we want to be as a region when we grow up. Do we want to be warehouses?”

The small city of Beaumont recently said no.

In July, the City Council vote 4-0 to reject a 5 million-square-foot warehouse project after 22 residents told council members they didn’t want the traffic and pollution and aesthetic changes it would bring.


The Press-Enterprise is hosting a free public forum on air pollution's health effects, economics and policies.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12
Where: Central Middle School, 4795 Magnolia Ave., Riverside.
Speakers: Ed Avol, professor of clinical medicine at USC’s Keck School of Medicine; Kenneth A. Baerenklau, UC Riverside associate professor of environmental economics and policy; Susan Nakamura, planning and rules manager for the South Coast Air Quality Management District

AIR POLLUTION: Winning the battle involves government, technology, lifestyle


 By Janet Zimmerman, September 6, 2013


 Benito Perez, of Temecula, uses a public charging station for his 2011 Nissan Leaf electric vehicle as he stops for lunch at a McDonald's in Riverside. Much has been done to improve air quality in recent decades, but more work is needed to reduce levels of the Inland area's worst pollutants.

Much has been done to improve air quality in recent decades, but more work is needed to reduce levels of the Inland’s worst pollutants — nitrogen oxides, ozone and particulate matter — that threaten residents’ health, regulators said.

Federal, state and regional air quality officials have imposed rules to reduce emissions from cars, diesel trucks and buses, refineries, power production, factories and even nail polish and fireplaces. In the coming years, there will be further changes to the cars we drive and the way our communities are laid out to facilitate walking and ease congestion.

One of the key measures by the region’s air pollution control agency, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, is a residential wood-burning ban when air quality reaches unhealthful levels, spokesman Sam Atwood said.

 Harmful fine-particle pollution, known as PM2.5, is released when wood is burned in fireplaces; it is similar to the soot from diesel engines. The “Check Before You Burn” program took effect in 2011, but rules will be tightened this fall to further limit when residents can light a fire at home between November and February.

The air district is developing its 2015 air quality management plan for ozone. The driving force behind the document is an ambitious vision for the next 20 years and beyond of low- to no-emission standards for just about everything, Atwood said.

Among other efforts:

--The air district is helping develop a one-mile demonstration project for zero-emission truck lanes in the Port of Long Beach and along Interstate 710. In the port, trucks would run on overhead electric catenary lines, like those used to power light-rail trains; they would burn compressed natural gas while on the road.


Bruce MacRae, vice president of government affairs for UPS, introduces the company's new fleet of electric delivery trucks in July. A 2010 study has found that powering cars with electricity instead of gasoline would reduce smog-forming volatile organic compounds by 93 percent and nitrogen oxides by 31 percent.

 --Expect a switch from gasoline-powered cars and trucks to more electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. A 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that powering cars with electricity instead of gasoline would reduce smog-forming volatile organic compounds by 93 percent and nitrogen oxides by 31 percent.

--The future will bring increased generation of power from renewable sources such as solar and wind to reduce the burning of fossil fuels in energy production that contribute to emissions of nitrous oxides, ozone and fine particles.

Under state law, utilities are required to have 20 percent of their retail sales from renewable sources by the end of this year, 25 percent by the end of 2016 and 33 percent by the end of 2020.
--In the works is a change in land-use planning that minimizes residents’ exposure to road and industrial pollution through thoughtful placement of schools, homes and industry.

The Southern California Association of Governments, the policy and planning organization for six counties and 191 cities, is implementing Senate Bill 375, which encourages “more compact, complete and efficient” communities to reduce driving.
quote”Reducing air pollution in the region takes a co
ordinated effort,” said Hasan Ikhrata, the association’s executive director. “Technology like zero-emission cars and solar panels are important. But we also need to look at ways to reduce congestion and give people more transportation choices. This involves locating housing closer to employment centers or transit centers, or investing in infrastructure to make sure that the capacity can meet the demand.”
In the meantime, individuals can take steps to protect themselves from the effects of air pollution, such as eating healthy foods and not living or exercising near busy roadways, experts said.

In a study last year, doctors at the Imperial College of London found that vitamin C, an antioxidant, can neutralize free radicals that contribute to cancer and respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder.

Dr. Lilian Calderon-Garciduenas, an environmental toxicology professor at the University of Montana, has studied children living in highly polluted areas. She found inflammation of the brain, similar to the process involved in developing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. The children also exhibited cognitive deficits and structural brain abnormalities and had respiratory and cardiovascular damage.
To combat such problems, Calderon-Garciduenas recommends providing children with good quality food, reading and physical exercise to stimulate their brains, and to reduce their exposure to passive activities such as video games.

Elsewhere, she had recommended that people exposed to pollution consume foods high in anti-oxidants, such as broccoli and dark chocolate, she said in an interview with Montana Public Radio.

TRUCKING: A job opportunity for former dairyman


By David Danelski, September 7, 2013

Jose Rodriguez and his wife, Maria, with their truck near their home in Jurupa Valley. The family makes a living moving goods around the nation.

Jose Rodriguez cared for calves at Inland dairies for about 20 years, until an exodus of the farms from Chino, Ontario and Jurupa Valley left him looking for work.

After some construction jobs, he saw a chance for a new career. In 2001, he spent about $2,000 for training to become commercial driver and soon was hired by a trucking company.

He saved his money and, in 2004, bought a truck — a 2000 model Peterbilt tractor with a flatbed trailer — and went into business for himself. He has since added a second truck, providing work for a cousin and his son, Roberto, who is a student at Cal State San Bernardino.

“This is better,” Rodriguez, 53, said of his trucking business. On this day, he was headed east from Los Angeles on Highway 60, on his way to Phoenix with a load of heavy machinery strapped to his flatbed.

“I make more money, and I can sometimes take two or three days off,” he said.

Rodriguez can attest that the flow of goods through the Inland region provides job opportunities. He also knows that cutting air pollution from trucks is a priority — and, in some cases, a hardship.
He has until Jan. 1 to retrofit his Peterbilt with a state-approved particle trap that will greatly cut the truck’s soot emissions.

As he navigated late-afternoon traffic in the San Gabriel Valley, he said he didn’t know whether it be would better for him to invest in a new truck or buy the particle trap.

He eventually opted for the filter, which will cost him about $15,000, said his son, Roberto. “We are going to have to finance it. We have to have working capital.”

The particle traps are required under California AirResource Board rules approved in 2008. They call for a phase-in of truck and bus particle traps or replacement of older vehicles; the goal is a 90 percent reduction in toxic diesel soot emissions by 2023.


Jose Rodriguez prepares his truck for a job. California Air Resource Board rules call for a phase-in of costly truck and bus particulate traps or replacement of older vehicles.

State officials estimated the new rules would cost the California trucking industry $5.5 billion by 2023, but the California Trucking Association said the cost would be much higher, as much as $1 billion a year.

The resulting pollution cuts are expected to save about 9,400 lives in California between 2010 and 2025 and at least $48 billion in illness-related costs, according to air board estimates.

Jose Rodriguez has little trouble staying busy, a testament to the tremendous volume of goods that need to be moved through Southern California every day.

During one week earlier this year, he picked up a load of pipe in Rialto and hauled it to Idaho. After making the delivery, he took on a shipment of composite decking material in Meridian, Idaho, and by Thursday, he had delivered it to a Home Depot warehouse in La Mirada.

Then it was off to Long Beach to load up and secure several tarp-shrouded heavy machines from China. Getting the machines on board and tied down took about three hours.

With extra room left on flatbed, he headed to Fullerton, intending to retrieve additional cargo.
He changed direction, however, when Roberto, his son, advised him by cell phone of a better opportunity. By checking Internet listings of loads available for independents, Roberto Rodriguez found a better-paying load in Los Angeles, where plastic containers of boiler cleaning fluids were destined for Phoenix.

Roberto Rodriguez said he finds loads for others truckers, too, allowing him to earn brokerage fees.
His father had been gone about 12 hours by the time he returned to a truck yard in Jurupa Valley to drop off his rig. After a dinner break, he would head east to Phoenix after dark to make his deliveries. And his son was on a hunt for a load to take back California the next day.

“Economically, we live better because he works as a truck driver,” his wife, Maria, said in Spanish through an interpreter. “But it is hard because … he works longer is gone more.”

POMONA: Person hit by train from Riverside, dies (6:15 P.M. UPDATE)


By Brain Rokos, September 5, 2013

A man was fatally struck by a Metrolink train that began its trip in Riverside on Thursday, Sept. 5, when he walked around the lowered gates at a crossing in Pomona, police said.

A Pomona police spokeswoman said the man, whose identity has not been announced, was about 42 years old.

Witnesses said that about 9:20 a.m., a westbound passenger train approached the Hamilton Boulevard crossing, and the warning lights flashed and the crossing gates lowered. Still, the man went around the gates. He died at the scene. Police said there were no other trains passing at the time. They don’t believe that the man committed suicide, the spokeswoman said.

The passengers on the 409 Metrolink train that departed the downtown Riverside station were bused to the train’s last destination, Union Station in Los Angeles, according to a Twitter message from Metrolink. The train resumed its trip about three hours after the incident.

Map shows approximate location of fatality