Ecocem may get planning approval for California plant

Many locals oppose Irish cement maker’s plan to build €45 million facility in Vallejo

Irish cement manufacturer Ecocem may be allowed go ahead with a proposed €45 million mill in the United States after a local council voted to stall a final decision on its planning application pending the outcome of a report.

Ecocem's US subsidiary Orcem Americas is appealing a decision by planning commissioners in Vallejo, California, to refuse it permission to build a grinding mill on the city's waterfront on environmental grounds.

Vallejo city council, which heard the appeal, voted to direct its staff to produce a final environmental impact report on Orcem’s plan. The move allows the council up to January next year to consider the issue and decide on the appeal.

Opponents who attended the council meeting in Vallejo booed the decision following the vote. Local groups who fear the plant’s impact on the environment have been campaigning against the proposal for almost two years.


However, Stephen Bryant, president of Orcem Americas, told local media that the ruling would allow all the facts on the benefits of the company's plans for the area to come out.

Deepwater berth

Orcem and Vallejo Marine Terminal, whose application for a deepwater berth to serve the mill was also refused, are appealing the original ruling against the proposals on the grounds that they are subjective and arbitrary.

Ecocem’s US subsidiary wants to build the factory on the site of an old flour mill on Vallejo’s waterfront. It will grind furnace slag from iron smelting, which can then be used as a component in cement.

The company says this cuts greenhouse gas emissions from normal cement manufacture by 90 per cent.

It intends importing the slag from the far east, hence the need for the deepwater berth. Orcem applied originally in 2015 but met opposition from local groups, particularly those living close to the proposed development.

Ecocem has always maintained that it abided by local planning and environmental laws.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas