Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Names, Terms and Abbreviations used on this Site

Bay Area Air Quality Management District [BAAQMD] – a public agency that regulates the stationary sources of air pollution in the nine counties of California’s San Francisco Bay Area: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, southwestern Solano, and southern Sonoma. The BAAQMD is governed by a Board of Directors composed of 22 elected officials from each of the nine Bay Area counties, and the board has the duty of adopting air pollution regulations for the district.

Clinker – In the manufacture of Portland cement, clinker is lumps or nodules, usually 3-25 mm in diameter, produced by sintering limestone and alumino-silicate during the cement kiln stage.  Clinker is ground (usually with the addition of a little gypsum, that is, calcium sulfate dihydrate) to become Portland cement.  Clinker is the binder part of cement. which is only anout 15% of concrete.  The rest is sand, rock, and water.

Conditional Land Use Permit [Use Permit, Conditional Use Permit, permit] – A permit which enables a municipality to control certain land uses which could have detrimental effects on the community.

East Material Storage Area [EMSA] – The area on the Eastern side of Lehigh Cement adjacent and slightly North of where clinker is manufactured.  Lehigh quarry is currently using this area for the dumping of mining waste (overburden) for which they were cited twice in an NOV in 2006 and another in 2008 by the County for illegal dumping.  On February 8, 2011 after a public hearing the County voted that Lehigh had vested rights over this property and nullified the previous issued NOVs.

EPA’s amendment to the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollution [EPA Final rules, NESHAP, National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollution] – The August 9, 2010 EPA final amendment to the Clean Air Act which includes toxic pollution from the cement industry.  This amendment is currently under attack by the Portland Cement Association and House Republicans.

Green House Gas – A gas in the atmosphere which allows the energy of sun light to enter the atmosphere and heat up the air and ground at or near the surface of the earth but prevents the heat (longer infrared waves) from the earth from radiating back through the atmosphere into space.

Health Risk Assessment [HRA] – A methodology for determining is the total emissions of toxic substances from a facility pose a significant risk to nearby inhabitants used by BAAQMD.  This methodology evaluates the risk of each chemical independently and uses the cumulative risks of all chemical to determine a numerical value of health risk.  If this number exceeds one then a significant risk to health is determined to exists.  This should trigger a health risk event requiring that nearby residents and schools be notified.

Lehigh Southwest Cement Company Permanente Plant  – The current occupants of the cement plant and quarry located next to the city of Cupertino.  Lehigh is owned by the Heidelberg Cement Group headquartered in Germany (2007- present time).

  • Hanson Permanente Cement Company  – Previous owner of the cement plant and quarry (1986-2007).

  • Kaiser Permanente Cement Company – The original owner of the cement plant and quarry (1939-1986).

Mercury [Hg] – a metallic element that is liquid at room temperature and can turn into a gas and combine with other chemicals when heated in a cement kiln to 2750oF.  It is a powerful neurotoxin.

Mercury Ranking – EPA national Ranking of the top 100 mercury emitting cement plants in the nation.

Methylmercury – the most toxic form of mercury is produced mainly by microscopic organisms in the water and soil.  More mercury in the environment can increase the amounts of methylmercury that these small organisms make.  Methylmercury is typically acquired through the food chain and increases in concentration the higher it is ingested in the food chain.  Large fish often have high concentrations of it from eating smaller fish and so on.

Neurotoxin – A toxin that acts specifically on nerve cells (neurons), usually by interacting with membrane proteins such as ion channels.

Notice of Violation [NOV] – An official notification letter issued by a regulatory agency that a regulated entity is in violation of rules, guidelines and regulations.  I is customary that the agency issuing the notice concisely define the violation at issue, the corrective actions or optional actions to be taken, and deadline by which the violations should be corrected.  Fines are also frequently levied to act as deterrents.  There is typically an appeal process.

Petroleum Coke – the byproduct (what is left over) after cracking crude oil to produce gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, motor oil, etc. used as a source of fuel often supplementing or replacing coal.  This is the fuel currently used to heat Lehigh Cement’s kilns.

Quarry [open pit mine] – a type of open-pit mine from which rock or minerals are extracted by their removal from a large open pit.

Regulatory Agency – A National, State, or Regional government agency responsible for regulating and enforcing laws and regulations specific to a specific category or class of regulation.

Santa Clara County Department of Planning and Development Planning Office [Santa Clara County, SCC, SC County, County] – The Planning Office is a division of the Department of Planning and Development. Our primary function is to plan and regulate land use and development within the unincorporated portions of Santa Clara County.

SMARA [Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975] – SMARA was enacted by the California Legislature to address the need for a continuing supply of mineral resources, and to prevent or minimize the negative impacts of surface mining to public health, property and the environment.  The Department of Conservation’s Office of Mine Reclamation (OMR) and the State Mining and Geology Board (SMGB) are jointly charged with ensuring proper administration of the Act’s requirements.

Synergistic Interactions of Substances [synergistic toxicity] – Two or more agents or pollutants working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently.  These results might make otherwise mildly toxic substances by them selves many more time toxic when exposed in combination.  The Health Risk Assessment does not take this into account and thus is seriously flawed.

Title V  Permit [Title V] – The Title V Program requires BAAQMD to issue comprehensive operating permits to facilities that emit significant amounts of air pollutants within its jurisdiction.  The primary intent of the Title V is threefold: 1) Enhance nationwide compliance with the Clean Air Act, 2) Provide the basis for better emission inventories,  3) Provide a standard means to implement several other programs in the federal Clean Air Act.

United States Environmental Protection Agency [Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, USEPA] – an agency of the federal government of the United States charged with protecting human health and the environment, by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.

Vested Rights [Nonconforming use] – A  zoning variance where a parcel of land may be given an exception from current zoning ordinances because the intended use of the parcel can be proven to predate the current zoning ordinances thus making it non-conforming use.

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