As reported by the Mercury News in their article entitled Cupertino: Residents get update on Lehigh Cement Plant from Supervisor Simitian, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian hosted the second annual community meeting on Nov. 16, 2016 to update area residents about the Lehigh Cement Plant, located close to Cupertino and many surrounding communities.
In addition to more than a hundred residents attending, the meeting was attended by representatives from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, Santa Clara County Planning and Development Department, Santa Clara Valley Water District, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Santa Clara County Counsel and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
In 2014, Simitian first requested an increase in oversight of Lehigh, whose cement quarry and plant are located in the foothills of unincorporated Santa Clara County just outside Cupertino city limits and city jurisdiction. The meeting was designed to allow all of the agencies to talk with each other and answer residents’ questions and concerns.
As reported by the Mercury, “most questions from residents centered on environmental concerns related to the facility: water pollution, air pollution and particulates in the air.”
Simitian asked Wayne Kino, director of compliance and enforcement with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, if a new stack that was installed at the cement facility is helping with air quality. Lehigh converted its more than 32 stacks into a single stack, Kino told the audience.
“What the stack did for us, and for you, was put all emissions into one location where Lehigh could install monitors to monitor what is coming out of their process,” he said. “In that, it gave us certainty in what is coming out.”
Kino said overall, the emissions situation at Lehigh is better than it was last year. He said the new stack is also higher, which causes more dispersion and waft, meaning fewer emissions reach the ground level.
As far as particulate matter settling on cars in neighborhoods near the facility, Kino said Lehigh developed a dust mitigation plan, and a “fugitive dust rule” is also in the works for the Bay Area at large, which would affect Lehigh. He said much of the dust is probably caused by trucks hauling materials in and out of the facility. He added that particulate matter can be a health risk to susceptible individuals such as children and seniors.
Some residents claimed that noise from Lehigh has increased since the new stack went in, especially between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Michael Balliet, director of the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, said since January, the department has gone to Lehigh 10 times to monitor noise levels in neighborhoods around the plant.
Two of those times, the facility was in violation, and the department issued citations.
So, there is some good progress but a lot more left to accomplish. These agencies only seem to act in response to pressure from the community.
To read the full Mercury article by Kristi Myllenbeck, click here: “Cupertino: Residents get update on Lehigh Cement Plant from Supervisor Simitian.“
On September 30, 2016, Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc. and Hanson Permanente Cement, Inc. each filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division. The cases are pending before the Honorable J. Craig Whitley and are jointly administered under Case No. 16-31602.
News coverage from Global Cement:
More information on the case can be found here:
Dear Clean Environment Supporters,
On Thursday, July 28 BACE (Bay Area for Clean Environment) suffered a legal setback when a state appeals court upheld an earlier decision ruling that vested rights to conduct surface mining operations existed on much of Lehigh’s roughly 3,500 acre quarry in the hills west of Cupertino and Los Altos.
BACE filed a lawsuit on behalf of Santa Clara County residents following a February 8, 2011 decision by the County Board of Supervisors declaring that mining operations on 13 of 19 parcels of land qualified as legal nonconforming use. This meant that Lehigh could expand its operations into those parcels without public review and consideration of public health and welfare that a use permit and mining permit would require. (16 page court decision)
Obviously it is a disappointing ruling, but BACE remains committed to protecting citizens health, quality of life, and our local environment. The legal challenge that you all supported delayed any expansion at the quarry for more than five years and, more importantly, united neighboring cities in supporting our efforts for the first time. The Town of Los Altos Hills, City of Los Altos, Town of Portola Valley, and the City of Sunnyvale, joined the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, Committee for Green Foothills, and Breathe California in an amicus brief supporting BACE’s appeal. Local communities and their elected officials are aware as never before of the presence and impact of this major industrial facility in our midst. But we have much more to do.
Our Work Continues.
Legal: BACE has a second lawsuit that will be heard by an appeals court next month. This case focuses on what BACE considers serious deficiencies in Lehigh’s current reclamation plan. (read our complaint)
Noise: BACE will be creating a petition on Change.org to support the City of Cupertino’s efforts to reduce the noise levels from Lehigh. If you hear a persistent humming, especially in the evening and at night please click here and sign our petition. You do not need to be a Cupertino resident to sign the petition. We need to send a clear message to Santa Clara County that regulates and enforces the noise ordinances.
Expansion: Finally, we need to prepare to fight any mining expansion by Lehigh. If you are deeply concerned about any expansion of surface mining in our local foothills please contact BACE. Write us a brief message about your concerns and how you might be willing to help with this particular issue. We will respond to every message.
Thank you for your continuing support.
— The BACE Team
Please forward this email to your friends, family, and neighbors.