Slugfest over California Shipyard Proposal

Posted in December 8th, 2010
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A large naval battle is currently taking place around Long Beach, California. For the past two years, ship-building conglomerate Gambol Marine Industries has been trying to establish a shipyard on a portion of Terminal Island – a major hub that’s owned and managed by the Long Beach port authorities.

The proposal sounds like welcome news, given much recent hand-wringing over the fact that American heavy industry has pulled up its roots and moved to the other side of the Pacific. The shipyard, according to the company’s own estimates, will bring over 2,000 jobs to Los Angeles County, and generate hundreds of millions in economic activity. Gambol has even agreed to stringent local-hiring rules to keep jobs in the community.

Smooth sailing it’s turned out not to be, as Gambol ran into pitched opposition from Port of Los Angeles officials. There is a long-planned channel dredging project underway at the port, which will allow supergiant container ships to dock at its central terminal and stimulate the local economy, both directly through tax revenue, and indirectly by encouraging businesses like California auto transport companies. Port officials say that the contested site is the planned dumping ground for the mountains of toxic sludge that will be dredged up from the ocean floor, hard-won through innumerable environmental and zoning meetings.

Neither side is willing to give a nautical inch. While both sides are marshaling support among businesses, unions and politicians, the issue may end up being settled in court.