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Bay Area for a Clean Environment
(formerly "NoToxicAir.org")

Did You Know?

Lehigh Permanente Quarry and Cement Plant west of Cupertino is the only cement plant of the top polluting plants in the U.S. that is directly adjacent to a major population center, located within a 5-mile radius of Los Altos Hills, Los Altos, Cupertino, Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Saratoga.[1] It is also the only major plant in the nation with NO central smoke stack to accurately monitor and scrub emissions. [2] The adjoining quarry, owned and operated by the same company, supplies the limestone used in cement production at the plant. The limestone in this quarry, is particularly high in mercury, [3] a powerful NEUROTOXIN that is especially dangerous to children’s developing brains.[4] Lehigh has a long history of violations in air, water, land, and employee safety regulations from local, state and federal regulatory agencies. [5] In 2010 alone, Lehigh received 185 mining safety violations from the Department of Labor. [6]

Silicon Valley Residents Form Bay Area for Clean Environment
In December 2010, local citizens formed BACE (Bay Area for Clean Environment), a non-profit dedicated to informing Silicon Valley residents about the health and environmental dangers of mercury and other forms of pollution. BACE is working hard to ensure that Lehigh is operating in full compliance with all existing regulations.

Recent actions

BACE FILES VESTED RIGHTS LAWSUIT

On May 27, 2011, BACE filed a lawsuit against Santa Clara County and Lehigh Southwest asking the court to throw out a March, 2011 decision by the County Board of Supervisors granting vested, or grandfathered, mining rights to Lehigh. The Board’s decision, which went against its own staff’s recommendation, allows Lehigh to expand mining activities without applying for a use permit that would place reasonable limits on its operations. [7]

THE STATE TAKES ACTION AGAINST LEHIGH

According to AB3098, quarries in violation of California mining laws cannot supply building materials to government-funded projects. Lehigh has been in violation of state mining laws for more than a decade yet remains on the AB3098-list of approved quarries and has received lucrative government contracts. Finally on July 20, 2011, the state acted to remove Lehigh from AB3098. [8] According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 28,000 signatures on a BACE initiated petition compelled the state to take rare action to hold Lehigh and Santa Clara County (as the lead agency) accountable.

SIERRA CLUB ISSUES A NOTICE OF INTENT TO SUE LEHIGH

On August 24, 2011, the Sierra Club issued a notice of intent to sue Lehigh and its parent company Heidelberg Cement Group for significant violations of the federal Clean Water Act.  According to the notice, Lehigh is liable for illegally discharging millions of gallons of polluted quarry water, high in selenium and other pollutants, as well as tons of mine tailings into Permanente Creek. The notice states that the pollutants enter the Santa Clara Sub-basin aquifer, which is the primary source of drinking water for San Jose and surrounding cities. [9] BACE is supporting this action.

We are Making A Difference.
With Your Help, We Can Do More!

Lehigh is doing everything in its power to avoid being removed from AB3098, including filing a suit against the state to stop its enforcement of the law. [10] On the national level, the head of Lehigh’s parent company has urged Congress to block enforcement of new EPA pollution standards for cement plants. [11]

Community organizing makes a difference, even in the face of powerful interests. BACE will continue to pressure the State and other regulatory agencies to vigorously defend the public’s interest and hold Lehigh accountable.

Please contact your elected officials to express your concern about this issue and please join our mailing list to stay informed.

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LATEST NEWS HEADLINES

Communities Across the Country Bombarded By Pollution Urge EPA to Follow Current Science - Earthjustice News July 3, 2013

Exposure to high pollution levels during pregnancy may increase risk of having child with autism Harverd School of Public Health - June 18, 2013

Is the cement plan causing our Autism epidemic? Harvard Study: "Women who were exposed to the highest levels of diesel or mercury in the air were twice as likely to have a child with autism" - Huffington Post June 18, 2013

Lehigh Cement, Sierra Club reach settlement on Permanente Creek suit - Mercury News - May 2, 2013

Lehigh cement settles Cupertino pollution suit for $10 million -April 25, 2013

Communities Ask Court for Protection from Toxic Air Pollution - April 17, 2013

Cupertino’s Lehigh cement plant and quarry criticized for mercury emissions - March 5, 2013

Are The New Weakened Cement Standards Enough? - January 14, 2013

Christmas Comes Early for Cement Industry - December 22, 2012

EPA imposes new pollution limits on boilers, cement plants - December 21, 2012

Boiler, Incinerator and Cement Cleanup will Cut Pollution and Save Lives - December 21, 2012

EPA Finalizes Clean Air Standards for Industrial Boilers, Incinerators and Cement Kilns/Updated rules provide extensive public health protections, cut costs of compliance - December 21, 2012

Lehigh Quarry’s Toxic Impact on Local Air and Watershed - December 21, 2012

Lawsuits emerge over Lehigh operations: Cement plant sues air quality management district; Regional - December 5, 2012

Lehigh Southwest Cement Company Faces Legal Challenge to Environmental Impact Report - November 29, 2012

Lehigh at the Center of Two Lawsuits - November 29, 2012

KQED News: Rules Tightened on Cupertino Cement Plant, a Big Source of Bay Area Mercury - September 19, 2012

Great presentation at City Hall today by Dr. Gary Latshaw, the Air Quality Chairman of the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club. The slides are available here (34 Megs, Powerpoint). - August 12, 2012

EPA Dirties Clean Air Legacy with Proposal to Weaken and Delay Cement Rule June 25, 2012

Patchcast: County Board ignores residents, votes to let Lehigh expand gigantic waste pile(video) July 9, 2012

Lehigh Prevails with Supes Decision on Reclamation Plan - June 22 2012

Lehigh Restoration Plan Approved; Opponents Stunned by Rock Pile Size - June 11 2012

New Study Finds Skyrocketing Increase in Autism March 29: Group says link to environmental factors shown, gov't should regulate toxic chemicals - April 1, 2012

After Stinging Commentary, County Postpones Cement Hearing - March 9, 2012

Baykeepers names Lehigh as largest source of toxic mercury pollution in S.F. Bay - March 1, 2012

Council to Air District: More Stringent Standards for Lehigh
The actual letter (PDF) - Feb. 9 2012

 
You can continue to the encourage regulatory agencies to vigorously defend the public’s interest. Please sign the two important petitions at the two links below.

1.  Petition:  Hold a Polluting a Cement Plant Accountable by Approving More Protective Regulations
Lehigh Southwest Cement Plant, one of the largest emitters of hazardous air pollutants, in Santa Clara County, is located directly adjacent to Silicon Valley, one of our State's key economic engines as well as a major population center. We believe more protective regulations are appropriate for one of the largest cement plants in the country that is close to a large metropolitan area.
Sign Petition
http://www.change.org/petitions/hold-a-polluting-cement-plant-accountable-by-approving-more-protective-regulations
2.  Action Alert: 
According to a recent Action Alert from EARTHJUSTICE: Everything was going according to plan, but then the EPA abruptly decided to both weaken and delay the health protections for people who live near cement plants. 
Read More

Action Alert
https://secure.earthjustice.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=1335

 

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Copyright 2012 by Bay Area Clean Environment, a 501(c)3 Public interest group.