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The proposed site would require large trucks to cross the railroad at an uncontrolled crossing. Photo submitted

Where We Stand: Asphalt plant threatens Feather River, communities

By Feather River Action

 

According to a public notice published May 10th, 2023, Hat Creek Construction Company, contractor for Caltrans, is planning to construct a “temporary” asphalt plant directly adjacent to the Feather River in Delleker, 2000 feet south (and upwind) of the Delleker residential area, and only 500 feet from homes in the Iron Horse community across the river. The operation would run from April to November, from 6am to 6pm, up to 24 hours/ day for 3 years (but probably longer) mainly to supply Caltrans with asphalt for its Highway 70 repaving project.

The project would generate at least 150 round trip truck trips per day, all crossing the railroad at an uncontrolled crossing, risking accidents and derailments, including possible oil spills directly into to the river. Even in the best case scenario, the plant would pollute the land and the river, which provides drinking water to more than 27 million Californians. If Plumas County is serious about protecting the river and the watershed, as is stated on the Feather River Tourism Association website, this plant cannot be permitted to proceed.

The Humbug Valley (including Portola) is already in federal non-attainment status for the air pollutant PM 2.5, which is increasingly being linked to asthma, respiratory diseases, even cancer and brain damage including cardiovascular damage, stroke, and dementia. With dense smoke from wood burning in the winter, and wildfire smoke in the summer and fall months already burdening the health of the population, an asphalt plant would only add to the health and environmental challenges the area faces. Portola residents report that odors from the sewage treatment plant are routinely carried into town by prevailing westerly winds. Asphalt fumes would likely travel directly into Iron Horse, Delleker and Portola for much of the year, making it impossible for residents to cool their homes by opening windows at night. Only those who can afford air conditioning would be able to keep cool during heatwaves.The noise of the operations would reverberate around the entire valley. In addition to being irritating, noise pollution is associated with heart disease, and other serious diseases. Sadly this is another case of environmental classism, forcing lower income people to bear the brunt of pollution.

The impacts of asphalt plants are well known, and Caltrans and Hat Creek should not be so irresponsible or out of touch to locate one near a residential community and directly next to the Feather River.

The site was historically Feather River floodplain land, and will one day likely revert to being a part of the river again. Given forecast higher river flows in the future, that day may come sooner that we think. All the asphalt byproducts would wash into the river, down to Lake Oroville where they would pollute agricultural water and drinking water.

Several years ago, Hat Creek purchased a 713 acre plot of land in North Portola and planned to construct a sand mine and asphalt plant but were stopped by strong community opposition including from Feather River Action! (FRA!) in 2021, and the land was purchased by local resident Linda Judge and Plumas Sierra Partners to preserve the open space and prevent the mine.

Now Hat Creek is back with an equally ill conceived plan that would harm the entire Portola area. In order to stop this plan, the public needs to get involved now to learn more about the plan and take action. See below.

What you can do:

1. Read the environmental documents and learn more about the project and its impact on the community. Go to this website, and click on “download all attachments” at the bottom of the page to download the environmental documents. Hat Creek and Caltrans are trying to get away with a “mitigated negative declaration” but this project, given its location to the protected Feather River, should be required to do a full environmental impact report (EIR) or be withdrawn.

2. Submit a comment opposing the plant to the Plumas County Planning Department, deadline June 10th, 2023.Send to [email protected] or mail to Tracey Ferguson 555 Main Street, Quincy, CA 95971

3. Volunteer to help FRA! alert and mobilize the public in the area. We could use donations, volunteers, etc. as soon as possible Contact us for more info.

8 thoughts on “Where We Stand: Asphalt plant threatens Feather River, communities

  • Alternative plan?

  • So the stench from the sewer ponds is ok during the hot periods for those who need to open their windows? The trains are going 5 to 10mph at this crossing so the likely hood of a derailment is nothing. Remember cal trans is ran by calif. who requires anyone way too much than necessary as far as environmental stuff so don’t make it sound like caltrans is pulling a fast one…friends!

  • Worked with Hat Creek Const.
    a few jobs, A21 for one, well maintained sites
    , professional drivers, where I was.
    Any industry can be picked apart by an agenda.
    Gaslighting the masses, not the way journalism/city admin was when I attended classes. Such a bias uninformed writer,
    76% of all traffic semi accident are caused created and collected by a 4 wheel vehicle. 45 yrs driver 29 shop recovery started at 6 Yrs Van Horn, Tx Dad’s shop.
    Army DADG deployment, chief inspection lead.
    Valley Aggregate Transport Inc Teamster member. Trk 238.
    149 65 20 49 36 32 80 99 5 50
    70 from Marysville to Ophir to Lake Alminor.
    And Any NorCal airfield including Sacramento airport.

    Fix the canyon .
    Gentleman, Ladies. Good day.

  • This is a twenty mile long rehab project, crews can typically pave 2 lifts for 1 mile per day so saying this plant will operate for 3 years is delusional. This project has a mix of reconstruct to realign curves vertical and horizontal ad well as Full Depth Recycle with Cement. Replacement of approx. 130 culverts, and 10 concrete box culverts. All the paving can only be done during warm weather generally May thru Sept. So the plant would only be operating during a portion of the 5 months during the 3 year construction period and has all the bells and whistles for pollution control. Don’t let the writer gas light you with his agenda.

  • There is so much in this article that is incorrect that it’s embarrassing to read.

  • I suggest Hat Creek Construction use the state (CalTrans property) at the sand shed near Hallelujah Junction (369.77687, -120.04309). Pros and cons of every site, but this site is already used for aggregate storage; it’s away from a waterway, and a residential community. Good air dispersal for fumes from a temporary asphalt plant; less spill risks; easy in and out for trucks, still may be close enough to the paving project to deliver asphalt and be an economically doable for Hat Creek. Also, this site may be permitted for that type of use already. Of course, it’s in Lassen County, so Plumas may lose revenue, and close to the state wildlife area, which may cause some concern and permitting or CEQA issues.

    I recognize the need for repaving Highway 70, but I have no major issues with Hat Creek using the state sand shed site near Hallelujah Junction (or somewhere similar) instead of one yards away from a waterway like the Delleker site.

  • I went through the report by VESTRA Resources report (Mitigated Negative Declaration 686) concerning the impact of this project. The report was prepared for Perry Thompson the president of Hat Creek Construction & Materials, Inc. The whole report is 190 pages and as usual, the interesting parts are either missing or hard to find. There are a couple things I found interesting.

    1) On page 6 the report says that water will be supplied by “the local utility district.” The report then briefly mentions hidden away on page 74 that the proposed plant will get its water from the river based on riparian water rights. This section of the Middle Fork of the Feather River is protected by the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and administered by the US Department of Interior, US Forest Service. https://www.rivers.gov/rivers/feather.php

    2) Attached to the VESTRA report is a US Department of Interior report but it is the Fish and Wildlife Service. There is no Forest service report addressing the impact of the project on the Wild and Scenic river status or the use of river water.

  • I love all these suggestions to use other locations that are owned by others. With that logic, it seems to me that the rest of the argument is somewhat silly.

Comments are closed.

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