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Tank removal near wetlands spurs opposition

Published 12/2/2009 on Press-Telegram

LONG BEACH – An effort to remove several
giant container tanks from near Los Cerritos Wetlands – by avoiding a
complete environmental analysis – has provoked a solid front of
opposition.

The site had once been earmarked for a Home Depot design
center, but property owner Tom Dean lost a lawsuit filed by
environmentalists who challenged the merits of an analysis of the
project's potential impacts. A new plan calls for a vehicle storage
lot.



"A junk yard in our back yard?" said Pat
Towner, president of the University Park Estates Neighborhood
Association on Wednesday.

Environmentalists also expressed concerns about possible contaminants.

The
city, which is the lead agency on the project, issued a notice late
Tuesday that it will seek a Negative Declaration – a status that would
bypass time-consuming environmental impact review of the Studebaker LB,
LLC tank removal project.

A Negative Declaration would state that the project has no significant environmental impacts.

Craig
Chalfant, a city planner with the Department of Development Services
who is assigned to the project, declined comment, except to say that a
hired consultant had concluded no full environmental study is needed.

Environmental activist Don May, in a telephone interview
from Hawaii, disagreed, saying the tanks have a long history of storing
toxic substances, and that the soil could also be highly contaminated.
He said the site needs review by state






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environmental regulating agencies.

Long
Beach attorney Mel Nutter, former chairman of the state Coastal
Commission, noted that a prior lawsuit was won because of issues linked
to the site's potential environmental impacts.

"What makes it less significant now?" he said.

The Studebaker LB, LLC, tank project, at 400 N. Studebaker Road, is east of the Loynes Drive intersection.

The
site contains six above-ground storage tanks (ASTs), conveyance
pipelines, and containment berms, the city staff reported. The four
large tanks originally stored Fuel Oil No. 6, which once fueled the
adjacent power plant. The smaller tanks have been used to store
distilled oil.

"The project site ... permits" vehicle storage industrial land use, according to a staff report.

However,
environmental activist Towner said the state Coastal Act requires any
project for the site to be "coastal dependent industrial use." That
could include industries such as fisheries, or canning, some operation
that needs to be near the ocean, she said.

"A junkyard is not coastal dependent," she added.

Copies of the city documents are available for review at www.lbds.info/planning/environmental_planning/environmental_reports.asp

 

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