There are plans to build an Amazon warehouse; residents are worried about pollution

Environmental defenders and the truck drivers' union – known as Teamsters – filed an appeal this week against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) order, which approved the conclusions of the environmental analysis of the Eastgate logistics warehouse project , which would be built on the grounds of the San Bernardino International Airport and that would house the Amazon company.

The appeal, filed in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and citing the San Bernardino International Airport Authority, the FAA and the company Hillwood Enterprises as the defendants, requires reviewing the order issued in December 2019 and force the FAA to prepare an environmental impact statement under the parameters of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

This appeal is part of the fight to stop the construction of the logistics center, which – according to the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAE) – threatens to generate a ton of toxic air pollution on a daily basis.

"The FAA has chosen to ignore the polluting impacts that this new terminal will create for us … According to its own assessment, it will expel a ton of toxic air pollution to San Bernardino every day," said Anthony Victoria, CCAEJ's communications director.

"Corporations must be required to meet strict standards if they are trying to build in a community that suffers the worst air quality in the nation," he added.

Community members asked for protection for their health because they already have poor air quality.

In figures

San Bernardino County today has an "F" rating from the American Lung Association. Of the more than two million inhabitants living in San Bernardino County, there are 35,481 cases of children with asthma and 124,483 adults with the same disease.

In 2018, the American Thoracic Society estimated that cleaning the air in the Inland Empire region, comprised of San Bernardino and Riverside, would save 609 lives and 1,250 people with serious illnesses, CCAEJ said.

The environmental assessment carried out by the FAA revealed that once the terminal operations were built, they would generate 500 truck trips every day for a total of 355 tons of air pollution to the community each year with a total of 7,516 heavy truck trips.

Even so, the FAA ruled in 2019 that there is "no significant impact" for this project, which is cataloged by environmental groups – such as Sierra Club – as a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Yassi Kavezade, representative of the Sierra Club in the Inland Empire, said the communities deserve strong analyzes that can be formalized in a community benefits agreement.

“We continue to set smog alert records in San Bernardino. If we let things stay the same for companies in the Inland Empire, this project will have a high cost for many generations to come, ”he added.

Air conditions are even worse for communities of color, environmental groups added.

According to a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists revealed last year, Hispanics and African Americans are exposed to 40% more fine particles emanating from cars and trucks, compared to Anglo-Saxon people.

Gasoline and diesel combustion are linked to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, both chronic and acute, asthma attacks and hospitalizations.

‘Amazon, we deserve good jobs and clean air’ read on one of the posters.

Fight for health

For Adrian Martínez, lawyer representing the Earthjustice campaign – the one that represents CCAE – the fight is emblematic because large retailers like Amazon "are not responsible for creating good jobs and generating clean air in the communities where they operate."

"The Inland Empire is the heart of a national struggle for healthy air and the creation of decent jobs," he said.

In recent years the warehouse warehouse industry, or logistics centers, have multiplied in the region, rezoning the land to be able to build giant wineries that are very often close to neighborhoods and schools.

These large projects in the long run do not generate the great economic benefits for the community, environmental groups claim.

According to the State of Labor of the University of California Riverside (UCR), only 4 out of 10 jobs in the region pay a living wage.

In addition, the Reveal website, which is part of the Center for Investigative Reporting, revealed in 2019 that the overall rate of serious injuries at 28 Amazon centers in 16 states in the country was more than double the average for the storage industry.

Mario Vásquez, communications coordinator for Teamsters Local 1932, said the urban development company Hillwood Enterprises, which has built 17 facilities for Amazon in eight states, has not taken enough measures to lessen the impact of this project on the working class and communities of color that reside near the airport.

Amazon has said the company is committed to communities, including Inland Empire, investing more than $ 2,000 million and creating more than 20,000 jobs in the area and 34,600 jobs in local businesses.

Regarding the injury rate, Amazon has said that "while many companies record fewer security incidents to keep their rates low, Amazon does the opposite."

“We adopt an aggressive posture to register injuries, no matter how big or small they are. We firmly believe in the environment provided to the employees of our centers, including our safety culture, ”Amazon told this reporter last December.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here