By Dr. Washington Burns
As an Oakland resident who has dedicated my life to advancing the community, particularly public health issues such as asthma, I am proud to support the Oakland Global Trade and Logistics Center, which is truly transforming the decommissioned Oakland Army Base and bringing a myriad of economic benefits to our community.
I spent my teen years in West Oakland and returned in 1995 to be on the founding board of the Prescott-Joseph Center, where I have served as volunteer executive director for 19 years. Our mission is to improve the lives of the under-served residents of West Oakland.
I am a clean air advocate who served on the Maritime Air Quality Improvement committee of the Port of Oakland and brought the Breathmobile Program – a mobile asthma clinic – to West Oakland. I also partnered with the Port of Oakland on an initiative to mitigate air pollution from diesel burning trucks.
After reviewing the plans for the project, specifically the Oakland Bulk and Commodity Terminal, I can say with absolute confidence that all commodities that may be shipped through the terminal can be done so safely and in a way that does not impact the health and safety of Oakland residents or the environment.
The terminal operator – Terminal Logistics Solutions – has committed to go above and beyond industry standards and use enclosed rail cars and covered dome storage facilities. Commodities will be transferred, completely enclosed, from rail to ship mitigating any concerns whatsoever of dust and debris. In my opinion, there is absolutely no danger to Oakland residents.
Additionally, the community benefits package that has been developed is outstanding. The project will create 11,970 jobs once fully built out and generate $300 million in annual regional employment income. And, the project is required to have at least half of construction hours and hires for ongoing operations be allocated for Oakland residents, with an emphasis on West Oakland.
I am a proud supporter of this project and the best-in-class standards it will set in terms of both environmental protection and community benefits.
Washington Burns, M.D. is executive director of the Prescott-Joseph Center, director of the Breathmobile Program, Chairperson of the Alameda County Asthma Coalition, and a member of the Regional Asthma Prevention Advisory Committee.