Updated: 01/27/2016 09:19:56 AM PST
Coal cargoes would not be containerized
The author of the Jan. 15 article, "Coal shipments not dangerous to health," is clearly mistaken. There is indeed "a documented human exposure mechanism that delivers a sufficient amount of the agent (coal dust) by uptake through ... the inhalation pathway."
This results in silicosis (black lung disease) in coal miners and asthma and other diseases in people less intensely exposed. Just as airborne coal dust gets into the homes of people living near the rail lines, the tinier particles get into their body. Neither the coal companies nor the Oakland developers dispute that fact. This is demonstrated by the application of surfactant by the former and talk about the use of (nonexistent) enclosed coal cars by the latter.
The letter writer seems to think that the coal will be in containers. The entire purpose of the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal is to handle bulk commodities and oversized goods that cannot be containerized. Otherwise, the containers with these materials would be loaded onto ships at the Port of Oakland like any other cargo, and the new terminal would not be necessary.
Communities up and down the U.S. West Coast have rejected similar coal deals. Therefore, the coal companies are hoping to manipulate the disadvantaged population of West Oakland into becoming their sacrifice zone. The children there are especially sensitive receptors because so many already have asthma. I suggest, as the evidence at City Council meetings demonstrates, that Oaklanders are simply not that gullible. We cannot and will not be fooled by glib assurances.
Can we please engage in an informed and honest discussion of this matter and not a misleading one? Peoples' lives and health are at stake here if you haven't noticed. A simple computer search on "coal in Oakland" will demonstrate how overwhelming the opposition is to this outrageous idea that a tiny handful of people want to foist upon us. We won't let it happen.
David F. Gassman