Report: Vallejo Plant Will Not Have Disproportionate Impact on Residents

A recently released report concluded that a proposed marine terminal and cement facility in Vallejo, Calif., will not have a disproportionate impact on minority or low-income residents living near the site, reported the Vallejo Times-Herald. Air quality, greenhouse emissions and transportation associated with the project would not impose an undue burden on those groups, according to the Environmental Justice Analysis (EJA).

Under a combined project, Vallejo Marine Terminal (VMT) would re-establish industrial uses on the site through the removal of a deteriorated timber wharf and construction of a modern deep-water terminal, while the Orcem California, Inc. component will involve the construction and operation of a “green” cement facility. Orcem would import most of the raw materials it uses via ships docking at the proposed 39-acre VMT wharf.

The city released a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) last September, which indicated there are several significant and unavoidable impacts from the project. Noted impacts include the release of nitric oxide and greenhouse emissions, destruction of buildings which are historically significant, operational noise from the facility and vibration sounds from rail transport. Unavoidable impacts also included queues at rail crossings and delays for emergency vehicles at crossings.

After the release of the DEIR, numerous residents called for the EJA, contending the project, if approved, will harm minority and low-income residents living near the site. The firm that conducted the report stated it analyzed the facility’s ability to produce portland cement, which is known for its environmental impacts due to the emissions released during production.

Orcem previously stated they are interested in producing ground granular blast furnace slag, which they contend, is less polluting than the production of portland cement.

“We are very pleased to see that the Environmental Justice Report proves definitively that there are no disproportionate impacts on low-income or minority communities due to air quality, nitrogen dioxide, greenhouse gas emissions or for traffic,” stated Steve Bryan, president of Orcem.

Bryan did take issue with one finding in the report that suggested rail transport associated with the project has the potential to disproportionately impact low-income residents who live near the railroads.

“We were surprised to see the report was published based on inaccurate operating assumptions for noise, and that the report then incorrectly identifies disproportionate noise impacts for low-income populations who live along rail lines,” Bryan said. “The report’s authors should have been aware that the railroad company does not move rail at night and therefore the noise analysis should show that there are no significant noise impacts for anyone. We will request that the report be corrected regarding noise and be resubmitted to the city and the public.”

The project is slated to go before the city’s planning commission within the coming months.

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