On December 7, Santa Clara County’s Planning and Development Office deemed Lehigh’s Reclamation Plan application incomplete. The 31-page letter listed a number of areas that require clarification such as, appropriately defining the land areas to be reclaimed, fish and wildlife protection, water quality concerns, new truck routes, and additional truck traffic.
What is Reclamation?
The purpose of the Reclamation Plan is to describe how the mined land will be repaired for a secondary beneficial use, such as open space. Reclamation does not restore land to its pre-mining state. The biggest issue facing residents is that Lehigh intends to convert its Permanente Quarry into a for-profit landfill that would take in 31.2 million cubic yards of off-site clean fill, which translates to an increase in truck traffic. This is a significant change from the approved 2012 Reclamation Plan that would fill the quarry with onsite mining-waste to stabilize the crumbling ridgeline between the quarry and Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve.
From 1939 through 2020, Lehigh’s Permanente Quarry mined for limestone to feed its onsite cement plant that was fueled by petroleum coke, making the site one of the Bay Area’s biggest air polluters. The site has an egregious record of violations across numerous regulatory agencies.
In early 2020, Lehigh stopped blasting for limestone and manufacturing cement. Since then, residents have noticed truck traffic from two new businesses there, aggregate processing and cement distribution. In 2021, with the notable exception of the Lehigh Permanente Quarry, HeidelbergCement AG of Germany sold its west coast operations to Martin Marietta of North Carolina for $2.3 billion. In 2022, Cupertino residents were blinded by bright movie lights when Lehigh leased its site for filming a Sci-Fi movie.
Lehigh has 180 days to respond to the issues flagged by County Planning, County Road and Airports, County Geologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District. There were no comments attached to the County’s letter from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. Additionally, the County and Lehigh will schedule a required community meeting prior to deeming the application as complete.
County of Santa Clara Department of Planning and Development letter to Lehigh regarding Major Reclamation Plan Amendment Application. https://stgenpln.blob.core.windows.net/document/PLN23_100_Letter_Incomplete.pdf. Accessed December 18, 2023.