“Large marine vessels can emit as much pollution as 350,000 current model-year cars in just one hour.”

Port of Stockton Selling Neighbors Down the River


The Port of Stockton (“Port”) has proposed developing a West Complex on Rough and Ready Island that will create a host of unacceptable environmental, public health and safety impacts and is totally incompatible with neighboring residential land uses. The Port has mislead the public, violated the law, and failed to disclose and mitigate all of the consequences of the proposed West Complex development.

The West Complex Development

The West Complex Development Plan (“Project”) calls for eventual development of approximately 1,400 acres of land and using seven formerly dormant berths at Rough & Ready Island. The Project would increase annual port calls from 20 to 150 ships.

Two years ago, the Port promised to prepare an environmental impact report (“EIR”) to fully analyze, disclose, and mitigate the Project’s potential environmental impacts before commencing the Project, as required by the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). In plain violation of CEQA, the Port began leasing warehouse space, conducting sleep-disrupting shipping activities from berths 18, 19 and 20, and laying tracks for an intermodal rail road almost immediately after promising to study the effects of those very same activities. None of these activities have been analyzed in an EIR.

Quality of Life

Shipping activities at Rough & Ready Island occur only 400 feet from recreational facilities and approximately 600 feet from residences across the deep water ship channel. The harmful impacts from the proposed development will be felt by residents of Atherton Cove, Atherton Island, Boggs Tract, Brookside, and Riviera Cliffs. The development would make the Port “noisier, brighter and dirtier. The earth will vibrate. Dust and fumes will fill the air.” Navigating The Future, The Stockton Record, at E-1 (Jan. 15, 2004).

The Port’s premature and illegal implementation of the Project has already caused noise and vibration that rattles homes and wakes neighboring residents throughout the night. The noise impacts will only grow more intense and affect more communities with full development of Rough & Ready Island.

The Project would add stadium-style lights creating daylight in neighbors’ bedrooms as they try to sleep.

The Project would add 54,023 vehicle trips and 8,850 truck trips to Stockton area roadways every day. This will create serious traffic congestion along Charter Way, Eighth Street, Fresno Avenue and other key routes.

Air Pollution

The Project would create unacceptable air quality impacts due to choking diesel exhaust from 130 additional ships per year, the tugboats that assist them, and hundreds of thousands of trucks that will idle at the Port for hours.

Large marine vessels can emit as much pollution as 350,000 current model-year cars in just one hour.

Diesel exhaust is associated with severe health effects, such as cancer and asthma. The California Air Resources Board estimates that diesel exhaust alone causes 70 percent of Californians’ risk of cancer from air pollution. Diesel particulates are associated with serious health effects ranging from heart and lung diseases to early death.

The Port has not proposed even the simplest of measures to reduce air quality impacts that are used by other Ports in California, such as: purchasing lower-emitting yard equipment; providing subsidies for retrofitting diesel trucks with cleaner engines or pollution control technology; retrofitting tugboats; providing dockside electrical power to reduce vessels’ reliance on diesel generators.

The Port acknowledges that the Project’s addition of almost 63,000 daily vehicle and truck trips to Stockton area roadways will exacerbate existing poor air quality in the area, but has not proposed any meaningful measures to address this problem.

Public Safety

The Project requires large marine vessels to maneuver past berthed vessels at the narrowest part of the ship channel, increasing the risks of collision and spills of hazardous materials. The Port has not analyzed these risks and has no plan for avoiding them.

Ground-borne vibration and bank erosion from increased ship traffic associated with the Project creates an unacceptable risk of causing fragile delta levees to fail, with the resulting potential for catastrophic flooding.

Water Quality

The Port’s proposed dredging of the Stockton Deep Water Ship Channel would stir up and resuspend toxic sediments in the deep water channel, threatening fisheries and human health.

Through discharge of contaminated stormwater and dredging, the Project would decrease dissolved oxygen concentrations and otherwise exacerbate poor water quality, thus threatening the fall-run chinook salmon and other species.

Ballast water discharged by marine vessels carries invasive species that threaten ecosystems and cause damages that cost U.S. taxpayers millions of dollars annually. The Port has not adequately analyzed the ecological and economic impacts due to the ballast water from the 750% more ships that the Project would bring through the Port of Stockton each year.

The West Complex Development is a Bad Public Investment

The Project’s promised job benefits are illusory. The Port has promised that the proposed Project will create family-wage jobs for Stockton residents. However, they have provided no support for this claim. In fact, at the shipping activities will likely generate only part-time jobs for mostly non-residents. Moreover, these jobs could be generated without this Project if the Port simply used its existing East Complex facility to full capacity.

The Project is not needed to accommodate new shipping. The Port has the capacity to expand shipping operations at the existing East Complex, which is currently underutilized. This would avoid the most serious environmental impacts of the West Complex development, and would preserve the quality of life for long-term residents of the area.

The Port’s expansion comes with a high price tag for the public. The federal government has literally given the Port Rough & Ready Island. The Port plans to fund its development in part through contributions from the federal, state and local governments.

There Are Better Uses for Rough & Ready Island

The Port has dismissed without any meaningful analysis numerous alternative Port uses for Rough & Ready Island that would be more compatible with neighboring land uses. For example, in its proposal to the Navy to acquire the island, the Port proposed to develop a recreational marina with a picnic and park area on the island. Despite this promise, the Port’s draft EIR all but ignores this common sense use of the island. Rough & Ready Island could also be used for commercial warehousing, light industrial, and office buildings, thereby removing blighted conditions and creating permanent jobs for Stockton-area residents. But the Port’s draft EIR likewise fails to meaningfully consider this alternative.