Ecocem subsidiary’s California planning verdict on the way

Vallejo officials consider residents’ objections to Irish cement maker’s mill proposal

Opponents in Vallejo have already indicated that they will challenge any ruling allowing the Ecocem mill and deepwater berth to go ahead.  Photograph: David Sleator

Opponents in Vallejo have already indicated that they will challenge any ruling allowing the Ecocem mill and deepwater berth to go ahead. Photograph: David Sleator

 

Irish cement maker Ecocem could learn on Tuesday whether local planning officials will approve its proposals for a €45 million cement mill in California.

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’s planning commission is meeting late on Monday to continue considering the proposal having adjourned a debate on the issue last week.

At the first meeting, Vallejo City Hall staff spent two hours outlining why they believe the mill, and a deepwater berth intended to service it, should not be built. Five hours of public comment followed this.

Vallejo city hall staff want the commission to refuse planning permission on the grounds that the mill would increase truck traffic, noise and interfere with residents’ “quiet enjoyment” of their homes.

However, the commission is not obliged to follow the city officials’ recommendations. The debate will resume on Monday night in California and local reports indicate that the commission is likely to decide at that meeting.

That outcome is unlikely to decide the issue finally, as either side has a right to appeal the commission’s decision to Vallejo city council.

Opponents have already indicated that they will challenge any ruling allowing the mill and deepwater berth to go ahead.

Ecocem’s subsidiary intends 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 process cuts greenhouse gas emissions from normal cement manufacture by 90 per cent.

The company proposes shipping in the slag from the far east to the facility built by Vallejo Marine Terminal, the organisation seeking permission for the deepwater berth.