Coal and petroleum coke storage by Kaiser International Corp. at the Port of Los Angeles has been ordered halted by city officials, who said such activities are not permitted under existing zoning.
The Los Angeles Harbor Department was served an order last week by the city Department of Building and Safety to curtail the storage of the materials at the 10-acre loading area at Berth 49 and Berth 50. City officials said that while the area is zoned for manufacturing and industrial uses, the storage of coal and petroleum is not permitted.
Port spokeswoman Julia Nagano said the Harbor Department, which leases the site to Kaiser, would appeal the order to the city's chief zoning administrator. She said the port would not comment on the order except to say it believes that storage of coal and petroleum is permissible at the site.
Under the municipal code, the company can continue to store the products at the site while the port appeals the order.
City officials said they began checking zoning records after receiving a written complaint from the Coastal and Harbor Hazards Council, a small San Pedro watchdog group. The group has complained that the Kaiser operation was excessively noisy and should not be allowed to operate so close to residences. The nearest residences are at least half a mile away.
"It seems to all of us involved that by allowing Kaiser to operate there, it is another blatant lack of caring for the neighborhood by the Harbor Department," said Bea Atwood Hunt, president of the council.
Hunt added that some boaters who have slips adjacent to the storage facility at Watchhorn Basin have complained to the council about soot from the petroleum coke and coal piles.
According to Jim Carney, chief inspector of Building and Safety's Conservation Bureau, inspectors were initially uncertain if the port was violating any zoning laws by allowing coal and petroleum coke to be stored at the site, but decided it was after receiving an opinion from Chief Zoning Administrator Franklin Eberhard.
Order Called Ludicrous
Richard Holdaway, general manager of the Kaiser facility, called the city order ludicrous. He said Kaiser, which has operated at the site since 1983, only stores coal and petroleum coke there for brief periods before loading the products aboard ships for export overseas.