On Wednesday, April 26, at 6:30 PM at Cupertino Community Hall and on Zoom, various oversight agencies will give updates on the Lehigh Cement Plant and Permanente Quarry, along with an opportunity to ask questions. This meeting will also be recorded. Sign up here
On April 18, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved two decisions regarding the Lehigh Cement plant:
1. Santa Clara County will obtain a legally-binding commitment from Lehigh to not rebuild its cement kiln. Following an industrial accident in 2019, the kiln sputtered through to the beginning of 2020. During this time, the Bay Area Air Quality District (BAAQMD) received a plethora of phone calls reporting excessive pollution from the cement plant. The cement plant subsequently ceased operations and instead became a distribution center for imported cement.
The kiln, which is fueled by petroleum coke, incinerates locally-mined limestone and other imported materials to manufacture clinker. This portion of the cement-making operation creates the most air pollution. The clinker is ground in a mill, mixed with other materials, and stored in giant silos for distribution.
During a County meeting in November 2022, a Lehigh representative testified that the company would not rebuild its kiln because it would be too expensive to comply with modern pollution regulations but would retain its Conditional Use Permit in order to continue manufacturing and distributing cement.
Lehigh Cement Plant
2. The County will create a policy framework guiding restoration and future development of portions of the 3500-acre Lehigh site, in cooperation with the City of Cupertino. The only land that Lehigh can develop is in Cupertino.
Supervisor Simitian announced three goals: close the cement plant, stop mining the quarry, and begin restoration and reclamation of the property. The cement plant’s kiln and active mining shut down three years ago.
Reclamation, which is required to occur concurrently with mining is grossly overdue.
The 2012 County-approved plan stipulates that mining-waste-rock piled upon over 300 acres would be placed in the quarry pit to protect water-quality and to shore up the crumbling ridgeline at Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve.
Instead, the County is awaiting a new proposal that would transform the quarry into a for-profit landfill for waste rock, with an estimated 600 truck trips per day for 30 years. In March, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Water Storage Exploratory Committee rejected the idea of turning the quarry into a lake for water storage.
To attend the Lehigh meeting in person or via zoom to learn about the organizations that are in charge of regulating the facility, click here
April 18 2023 Board of Supervisors items 20 and 21: http://sccgov.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=14890
November 17 County Housing, Land Use, Environment, and Transportation Committee (HLUET) item 5: http://sccgov.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=14&ID=13084&Inline=True
March 29 2023 Santa Clara Valley Water District Water Storage Exploratory Committee item 5.2: https://s3.us-west-1.amazonaws.com/valleywater.org.us-west-1/s3fs-public/WSEC-Agenda-03292023.pdf