Ecocem plan for US plant near San Francisco suffers setback

Irish cement manufacturer faces opposition from residents fearing environmental impact

Irish manufacturer’s Ecocem subsidiary Orcem Americas wants to build a grinding mill in Vallejo, close to San Francisco

Irish manufacturer’s Ecocem subsidiary Orcem Americas wants to build a grinding mill in Vallejo, close to San Francisco

 

A US local authority has dealt a blow to Irish manufacturer Ecocem’s plans for a €45 million mill by formally opposing the project.

Ecocem subsidiary Orcem Americas wants to build a grinding mill in Vallejo, close to San Francisco, but faces opposition from residents who fear its environmental impact.

Vallejo city hall has called on the local planning commission in a staff report to deny permission to both Orcem’s factory and proposals for a nearby deepwater terminal.

The planning commission does not have to follow the recommendation but will consider it at a meeting on February 27th.

According to Peter Brook of Fresh Air Vallejo, if the commission denies planning permission, then Orcem and the deepwater berth developer, Vallejo Marine Terminal, can appeal to the city council.

Similarly, if the commission gives the project the go-ahead, those opposed to the plan can also appeal to council.

The city hall planning staff’s report highlights the fact that the mill would result in noise and truck traffic that would “disrupt the quiet enjoyment of adjacent multifamily housing complexes and single-family residences in the project vicinity”.

Cut emissions

The process cuts greenhouse gas emissions from normal cement manufacture by 90 per cent. It proposes shipping in the slag from the Far East to the facility built by Vallejo Marine Terminal.

Nobody from the group was available for comment. Speaking to a local newspaper, Orcem Americas president, Stephen Bryan, accused city hall planning staff of illegally taking pre-emptive action to the commission’s decision-making authority.

“They are effectively telling the planning commission their opinion is still not needed, while at the same time delaying the process unnecessarily and limiting public input,” he told the Vallejo Times-Herald.

Ecocem has operations in Ireland, Britain and France. Vallejo is its first venture in the US. Founded in 2003, it built its reputation on the basis that its manufacturing process dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions.