Environmental and community groups on Friday tried once more to persuade a court to halt construction of a new terminal in the Port of Los Angeles--a project that, the groups fear, would generate more pollution in an area already plagued by poor air quality.
A state appellate court heard arguments for three hours on an emergency request to halt the project, which is being built within 500 feet of San Pedro homes.
Last week, the coalition of environmental and community groups lost a bid in federal court to stay construction of the 174-acre China Shipping and Holding Co. terminal.
The court is expected to rule on the emergency request Monday.
In a related matter, the state appellate court also agreed to hear arguments in October in a coalition lawsuit that alleges the project is being built without proper environmental reviews.
In arguing for the stay Friday, attorney Gail Ruderman Feuer of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the lead agency in the coalition, called for construction workers to "put down their tools." Waiting for hearings in October would be too late, she said, because the project, which is 60% complete, would probably be finished by then.
Friday's hearing is connected to the lawsuit the coalition filed last year in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeking assurances that state environmental reviews are properly completed on the terminal. A lower court last year ruled against the group, which also includes the San Pedro and Peninsula Homeowners Coalition, San Pedro Peninsula Homeowners United Inc. and the Coalition for Clean Air.
The terminal, the product of a $650-million lease arrangement with the city of Los Angeles, is scheduled to be built in three phases and is to include two bridges, 10 cranes and two wharves.
The coalition's main concern is that China Shipping was given permission to build Phase 1--a 1,200-foot-long wharf--without an assessment of the cumulative effect of the entire project, which Feuer called an egregious violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.
Michael Zischke, attorney for the Port Authority, argued that a 1997 review had taken Phase 1 into account and that reviews for the other two phases would be performed later. Also at issue, attorneys said, is the money the port and city could lose if the project is halted--about $25,600 a day.
Dozens of San Pedro residents attended Friday's hearing and wore buttons reading "Clean Port Now!"