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Objecting to the mine plans

Editor’s note: The article referred to by Dave Valle in his letter below is the first in a series of articles planned about the proposed mine expansion. As word of the mine proposal reached Plumas News, a reporter was assigned to look into the issue. She researched its history, current status and future plans and presented the initial article. She concluded the article by stating it would be the first, as she would continue to gather more information. She is in the process of interviewing many of those opposed to plans. She will also interview those who are in favor of the mine. This is a long process, which will include public hearings that will also be covered. 

 

The article “Process Underway to Expand Portola Mining Operation” by Westmoreland in Plumas News online January 6, 2021 describing the proposed mining operation in NE Portola paints a very benign picture of the proposed mine. The reason this mining proposal “has drawn much attention” is because it is a large 50 year expansion eventually involving over 250 acres (The existing sand and gravel mine is only 10 acres and infrequently used). This is not just another small sand or gravel operation in the middle of nowhere. There are over 200 homes and commercial properties within a mile of the mine site. People are very concerned about the resultant noise levels from the excavation, grinding and hauling. The dust particulate pollution potential is troublesome especially since Portola is already experiencing increasing, dangerous particulate pollution levels. Also, elevated noise and dust levels would likely occur from the expected average 32 round-trip truck trips per day up to a maximum of 700 round-trip truck trips, many of which could be at night. And this mining operation will draw 50,000 gallons of well water for processing which may affect the aquifer of neighboring residential wells. The blasting, though probably infrequent, may even affect existing old, fragile water lines of the City of Portola system, which city crews already scramble to repair during mild earthquakes. What’s also misleading in this article is describing it as a a “part-time” operation. The mining company is projecting a maximum 240 day operation depending on material need, 12 hours per day, sometimes 6 days per week, plus up to 60 days a year a 24 hour operation. Then there are concerns and questions about the very vague and lacking plan descriptions of an on site asphalt plant and lime production operation. Also, there are concerns whether Plumas County can adequately monitor such an operation. Read the mining and reclamation plan submitted to the county, look at maps of of its location to see how close it is to homes, and recognize and report the concerns of the citizens affected.

Dave Valle

Portola

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