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DAILY BREEZE: Shell to expand Carson facility, let city use land

By Gene Maddaus

Shell Oil unveiled plans this week to expand its Carson tank farm and other facilities, while offering the city much-needed land for a new maintenance yard.

Shell holds 446 acres at the center of Carson, south of Del Amo Boulevard and west of Wilmington Avenue. More than a third of that land is taken up by large, white cylindrical fuel storage tanks — which some neighbors argue pose a threat to air quality.

A dismantled refinery, which was shut down in the 1990s, occupies a quarter of the land.

Shell’s plan is to add another 17 tanks to the 50-plus tanks already on the western third of its property. Shell may also expand the tank farm east into the area now occupied by the defunct refinery, and add a facility there for storing or auctioning cars.

“We plan to rejuvenate the centerpiece property that has been the site of a previous refinery,” said Jason Burnett, area manager for Shell Oil Products US. “It’s a win-win for the city of Carson.”

Carson has been searching for land to build a new maintenance yard for some time. The current yard, said Economic Development General Manager Ron Winkler, is insufficient to keep up with the city’s planned growth.

“In conversing with Shell, we’ve learned that they have a 19-acre parcel,” Winkler said. “They don’t have a need for it. That would give us the additional area we’re looking for.”

The 19 acres are just west of Dolphin Park, and north of 213th Street. They are currently vacant. The city plans to lease the land from Shell, and use redevelopment funds to construct the facilities, which would house the city’s trucks and maintenance equipment.

For the first 10 years, the city would pay Shell $1 per month in rent. After that, the rent would go up to $38,000 per month, according to preliminary terms.

The city might also be able to sublease some of the facilities to other businesses, which would add to the city’s revenue stream. A portion of that rent would be returned to Shell.

Shell also plans to expand its ethanol distribution facilities, which are at the center of its property. That expansion could take place within a year or two of city approval of the plan — apparently putting it on the fastest track.

The expansion of the tank farm is a longer-term project, and could take 10 to 20 years.
  
Burnett said early estimates were that the expansion would add 120 jobs during the construction period, which is expected to last several years.

“This is the end of the beginning,” Burnett said. “This is going to be a very collaborative, long-term project with the citizens of Carson and the redevelopment agency.”

The city has been in talks with Shell for the past four months about creating a comprehensive development plan for the site, Winkler said. Councilwoman Julie Ruiz Raber said she had first learned of it in a recent closed session.

“I think it’s a good thing to get rid of some blight,” Ruiz Raber said. “They haven’t exactly told us what they are going to replace it with, except they’re going to give a spot to the city for the city yards.”

Over the next year and a half, Shell expects to hammer out a deal with the city, firm up its own growth plans, and complete an environmental impact report. Burnett said issues like air quality and traffic would be thoroughly addressed.

The City Council agreed Tuesday, on a 4-0 vote, to proceed with lease negotiations with Shell.

“We’re really just getting started with this,” Burnett said. “It’s part of our long-range vision to provide for the needs of Southern Californians.”

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