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Residents near US ports say expansions taking heavy toll

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WASHINGTON — The big trucks roar out of Port Newark, N.J., like a beastly herd, snorting, grinding gears and belching exhaust as they rush through the predominantly black South Ward neighborhood.

‘‘In one hour, no matter when we count, we have about 400 trucks come through,’’ Kim Gaddy said.

The diesel trucks help move $1 billion worth of cargo annually in and out of Port Newark, a cornerstone of the nation’s third-largest port system — the Port of New York and New Jersey — and the source of tens of thousands of jobs. But the pollution exacts a heavy toll on residents, advocates say. And they fear it could get much worse.

Environmentalists and residents say that particulate-matter pollution from trucks contributes to poor health.

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