Aerial photograph of the proposed site. Photo submitted

Letter to the Editor: Who paid? Delleker asphalt plant would make locals pay the price

In response to Mr. Rose, who inquired about the postcard our group sent out regarding the asphalt plant proposed by Caltrans/Hat Creek near homes and businesses in Delleker/ Iron Horse/ Portola, thank you for your inquiry. The postcard was organized and designed by Feather River Action! a Portola-based grassroots group working to defend the Feather River from harm and building community. We are grateful to the many local donors who helped fund the postcard, concerned residents who care about protecting quality of life and the integrity of the Feather River. Join us!
A notification postcard is something the county planning dept. should require when a development risking significant impacts to local residents (such as the asphalt plant in Delleker) is proposed. This is a case of individuals from the community taking up the slack in providing necessary public information when local governments fall short.
The postcard was mailed to all postal addresses in 96122 and will be mailed this week to Mohawk Valley addresses in 96103 and 96106. We are actively raising funds to pay for these mailings and donations from the community are requested. Not everyone reads letters to the editor or is on facebook and many are not aware of what is planned and how it might impact their lives. We are also raising money for environmental analysis and to identify the (long list of) inaccuracies and misrepresentations in the environmental study from Hat Creek Construction/Vestra. If you enjoy the quality of life in Plumas County, and support our efforts to organize the public to stop this plant, please consider a donation to Feather River Action! PO Box 682 Portola CA 96122 (paypal also available). We welcome new volunteers. You can e-mail us at [email protected].
Stopping this badly placed asphalt plant will NOT prevent Highway 70 resurfacing. Caltrans has used asphalt from Reno and Susanville for projects before. If the plant is built in Delleker, on the other hand, it will create blight, lowering property values, and dampening economic recovery associated with the Beckwourth Peak Trail and outdoor recreation. The last thing you want after riding a 20 mile single track trail or hiking all day is a lungful of toxic asphalt emissions from the cloud hanging over the river and local meadows. People and their dollars would go elsewhere.
The heavy industrial plant would operate up to 24 hours/day emitting light, air, water and noise pollution, that includes 150 truck trips/ day, as well as many toxins and known carcinogens such as benzene, heavy metals and small particulates into an area already dealing with dangerous air pollution made worse by valley floor inversion layers, with wildfires in the summer and wood smoke in the winter already leading to unsafe exposures.
Perry Thompson, owner of Hat Creek Construction said publicly that the plant would run for at least 3.5 years and offers no assurance that he will not operate the plant at the site permanently. The plant would be built within the FEMA 100 year floodplain. The site floods regularly, and though Hat Creek Construction claims the FEMA floodplain designation is wrong, video of the flooded site from only six years ago do not lie: Oily spills would be carried into the Feather River and run downstream, collecting in pools and impacting swimming, fishing, and recreation as well as the health of the river and all of the life who depend on it. Twenty-seven million Californians get their drinking water from the Feather River.
At the Portola City Council meeting on May 24, where dozens of residents spoke out against the plant, and where the council inexplicably chose to sit on their hands and not support the people’s request for formal opposition, Perry Thompson of Hat Creek Construction presented his company as a family business that cares about the communities they operate in. Yet at the meeting when local business owners expressed concern that they might lose their own businesses due to the impacts of the asphalt plant, Hat Creek suggested that as a consolation they could work for Hat Creek instead! When air quality issues were raised, Mr. Thompson asserted that residents should stop using woodstoves.
Hat Creek’s representative filmed people up close in their faces with a tablet device, as they were speaking. Many people commented at the meeting how intrusive, intimidating and disrespectful this was. Mr. Thompson’s claim at the meeting that the communities he operates in have great relationships with him is simply not true. Residents in Litchfield, living in close proximity to a Hat Creek asphalt plant, are woken up regularly at 4 a.m. to heavy truck traffic. When these people reached out to Mr. Thompson requesting an alteration in the truck schedule, Mr. Thompson allegedly told them they could sell their homes and move.
Whether or not you agree with asphalt plants in general, this one would be poorly located, near several residential and commercial areas that would suffer significant and harmful levels of noise and air pollution and directly on the banks of the Middle Fork Feather River, leaching toxins into the river, flowing to reservoirs that people irrigate with and drink from. This is not wise land use.
People have only this week, though Sat. June 10th, to read the environmental report and submit comments and opposition to the Zoning Administrator Tracey Ferguson via [email protected] with the subject line “Hat Creek Construction Site Development Permit CEQA MND 686 Comment.” You can cc. the Plumas County Board of Supervisors (where this may end up) at [email protected].
Do it today, or regret it tomorrow. As for Hat Creek and Caltrans, perhaps it’s time for a rethink on this (inappropriate) riverfront site.
Josh Hart