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Attorney General Kamala D. Harris Seeks to Join Suit to Protect Public Health in Mira Loma

Thursday, September 8, 2011
Contact: (415) 703-5837

LOS ANGELES -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced her intention to join a lawsuit challenging Riverside County’s approval of an industrial project next to Mira Loma Village, a community already disproportionately affected by diesel exhaust and noise pollution.

The proposed project, the Mira Loma Commerce Center, would consist of a million square feet of warehouses and industrial buildings, resulting in approximately 1,500 additional diesel truck trips a day traveling next to the low-income, primarily Hispanic residential community of Mira Loma Village.

“The proposed Mira Loma complex carries significant health risks to a community that is already suffering the impacts of what are among the worst particulate pollution levels in the nation,” Attorney General Harris said. “All California residents could be put at risk if developments like this are pushed through by officials without appropriate, and legally-mandated, consideration of the environmental effects on health and welfare.”

Attorney General Harris filed in court Wednesday a motion to join the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) action filed by the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) to set aside the county’s approvals for the project. The judge has set a September 16th hearing on that motion.

The suit outlines the county’s failure to adequately analyze and mitigate the project’s impacts in light of the already serious health and environmental risks suffered by the community. The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) did not sufficiently disclose that the county’s land use decisions result in the burdens of the project being primarily borne by the residents of Mira Loma.

Since the 1990s, Riverside County has approved a series of warehouse projects in the Mira Loma area. There are now approximately 90 mega-warehouse complexes in Mira Loma. Thousands of trucks travel to and from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to distribution centers and warehouses in Riverside County each day. Over 15,000 truck trips a day already flow onto the main roads in Mira Loma.

The residents of Mira Loma have been burdened by the harmful impacts of industrial development for decades. A recent study by the University of Southern California found that the area’s extremely high rate of particulate-matter pollution is linked to stunted lung development and other serious illnesses in Mira Loma children. Mira Loma’s levels of particulate matter and ozone pollutants are significantly higher than both California and federal air quality standards.

“We have battled for more than 10 years trying to protect our families’ health and quality of life. This project is the final straw,” said Penny Newman, executive director of CCAEJ. “We are so grateful to have the Attorney General join us in what us truly a fight for their lives.”

Diesel exhaust is listed as a known carcinogen under Proposition 65. The California Air Resources Board had recommended a buffer zone between a diesel source and residential neighborhoods, schools and parks to reduce the risk of health impact from diesel particulate emissions. While the EIR acknowledged increased pollutants, the county failed to adopt all feasible mitigation measures to reduce air quality impacts. The county rejected the recommended buffer zone as infeasible, but did not explore the possibility of a more limited buffer zone or other comparable mitigation, such as a trees or shrubs, which can reduce particulate pollution by as much as 30 percent.

A copy of the proposed complaint is attached to the press release.

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