The chief of Metrolink today said the commuter rail service will commission a study to look at what if any health risks its Cypress Park maintenance center may pose for surrounding residents. The announcement was made as Metrolink faced growing pressure by community groups as well as local and federal leaders to conduct an extensive health assessment of facility on a portion of Southern Pacific’s former Taylor Yard.
In addition to noise generated by idling engines,residents in Cypress Park and across the river in Elysian Valley have also expressed concern about particulate matter – small particles of pollution that can be inhaled – in the exhaust of the many diesel engines serviced at the center.
Metrolink Chief Executive Officer Michael P. DePallo directed staff to immediately begin preparing “for commission of a health risk assessment (HRA) of the agency’s Central Maintenance Facility” on San Fernando Road next to the Los Angeles River. “This is a significant step to quantify the emissions emanating from the facility and to solidify a baseline,” said DePallo in a statement.
In late May, congressmen Xavier Becerra and Adam Schiff repeated requests that Metrolink undertake the study of potential health risks. Schiff expressed frustration over Metrolink’s resistance to commission the study and for its failure “to address community fears.”
Today, Schiff said he was “pleased” with Metrolink’s response, and” I look forward to working with Metrolink to find the right firm to undertake the assessment so both the agency and residents have confidence in the study and its results.”
Metrolink has taken steps to reduce air and noise pollution at the maintenance center, which is located on San Fernando Road south of Rio De Los Angeles State Park. For example, the agency has reduced the idling time of engines while at the center and also installed a system that allows trains to run on electric power while they are being serviced instead of relying on their diesel engines. In addition, Metrolink has also agreed to purchase 20 locomotives that emit less pollution.