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Angeles County | Community News File / Terminal Island

Picketers Decry Withdrawal of Plan to Cover Dust Piles

July 22, 1998

About 80 community activists picketed Tuesday outside the headquarters of a petroleum coke exporter on Terminal Island to demand that the company cover 100,000 tons of the potentially hazardous material.

The Los Angeles Export Terminal filed a request July 2 with the South Coast Air Quality Management District to withdraw its proposal to build domes over the piles, citing financial problems.

The company was scheduled to begin construction on the domes, which are estimated to cost as much as $19 million, on July 31.

"We want to let LAXT know that we're on top of this, that we're watching them and we'll do what we have to do to make sure they uphold their side of the deal," said Dennis Kortheuer, a member of the San Pedro Organizing Committee, a community group.

Petroleum coke, a byproduct of the petroleum refinement process, is used as a fuel in many countries. Fine particles in the coke can travel long distances and aggravate respiratory illnesses, and is required by state law to be controlled.

Export terminal President Gerald Swan said he can no longer afford to build the domes because his business has been hurt by the Asian economic crisis.

Swan said the domes are unnecessary because of other dust abatement methods, such as transporting the coke in covered trucks and watering the piles on windy days. He accused the AQMD of not applying uniform standards.

The air district granted LAXT an operating permit last fall on the condition that the domes be built, said Carol Coy, an AQMD administrator. Coy said the agency is reviewing the company's last-minute request not to build the domes.

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