Dutra Told to Justify Need for Asphalt Plant, Alt Site Analysis Declared Invalid

Big news about the Dutra asphalt plant this week, as a state agency declared the company must show there is an unmet need for asphalt in the region, which Joan Cooper of Friends of Shollenberger Park and David Keller of the Petaluma River Council argue below is “a steep climb.” The folks with Save Shollenberger Park have suggested letters to the editors of the Press Democrat and Argus-Courier are in order. Read on for their press release.

PRESS RELEASE  – For immediate release.

November 16, 2016

Contact:  

David Keller, Director, Petaluma River Council – (707) 763-9336

Joan Cooper, Founder, Friends of Shollenberger Park – (415) 516-3673

Dutra told to justify the need for asphalt plant in Petaluma: State agency declares Dutra Haystack Asphalt Plant’s Alternative Site Analysis “Invalid”

Dutra is required to obtain a series of federal, state and agency permits and agreements prior to building and operating their proposed, controversial asphalt factory on 38 acres of land including wetlands and sensitive habitat the Petaluma River just outside Petaluma city limits, within Sonoma County jurisdiction.

On Nov. 10, 2016, the SF Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) sent the attached letter declaring that Dutra’s required Alternatives Analysis for the federal Clean Water Act §401Water Quality Certification and compliance with the §404 Wetlands Permit application, is “invalid.”   

Dutra failed to provide important evidence and data necessary for the RWQCB to analyze and legally confirm their Petaluma site as the “Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative.”

Importantly, the Regional Board notified Dutra that, given the existing permitted and operating capacity in the North Bay for meeting regional needs to supply RAP (reclaimed asphalt pavement), Dutra will have to establish that there is an unmet need for additional asphalt production. That will be a very steep climb for them, given that during the County’s project approval process, County PRMD staff already established that there is a surplus of existing, permitted asphalt production capacity in the North Bay to meet current and future demands.  

… the Alternatives Analysis will need to clearly demonstrate that the project is clearly needed to meet the market demand for RAP, and aggregate and sand products in the area. Otherwise, the No Project Alternative will meet the overall project objective and therefore be the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative.”  (emphasis added, RWQCB letter, page 2)

In addition, the RWQCB also is requiring verifiable proof from Dutra:

– that Hot Mix Asphalt or Warm Mix Asphalt cannot be delivered to the proposed service area from more distant alternative sites, given 2-3 hour transport times for hot asphalt;

– that Dutra has permission to use Shamrock’s e-crane (electric crane) for unloading barges of aggregate at Shamrock’s adjacent dock, since none has ever been presented;

– that Dutra can safely moor and unload barges without interfering with other river traffic and uses, and without intruding into the 100′ wide federal navigable waterway;

– that Dutra has not properly analyzed alternative sites’ potential for rail or truck deliveries of aggregate and transport of asphalt products

We are very pleased to see this independent evaluation and objection by the RWQCB. This affirms our longstanding evaluation that there is no necessity for a new asphalt plant here, no less at Shollenberger Park, the Petaluma River and the gateway entrance to Petaluma and Sonoma County. As we have stated clearly, asphalt production is NOT a water-dependent activity.  Most all asphalt plants nationwide are nowhere near water access.

Concerned community members, elected officials, and non-profit organizations have opposed the project for over 12 years. We have worked to inform the public and rally them to preserve and protect Shollenberger Park and the health of all Petalumans.

According to environmental experts, the potential impacts of operating an asphalt factory so close to this sensitive ecosystem, public park and the Petaluma River make this site inappropriate. Over 150,000 visitors to Shollenberger Park per year enjoy and appreciate our most popular City park, and is a great draw for families, runners, school children, birders, eco-tourists and researchers. The Petaluma River has become one of the most popular locations around the SF Bay for rowers and paddlers.

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Dutra Alternatives Analysis is at:  

http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/sanfranciscobay/public_notices/401/durta/Dutra_Alternatives_Analysis_10132016.pdf

Dutra map Dutra aerial

  4 comments for “Dutra Told to Justify Need for Asphalt Plant, Alt Site Analysis Declared Invalid

  1. Linda Longstreet
    November 21, 2016 at 10:54 pm

    Does not sound good to me. What would the emissions be? Seems to be placed locally that would affect many neighborhoods? What does the city say? Again, I know that this is the industrial area but asphalt? I will do some research. Thanks for the notification

    • Christopher Fisher
      November 22, 2016 at 10:09 am

      This asphalt plant has been many years in the making, Linda, and has been approved by the County Board of Supervisors. Fortunately for those of us who appreciate the aesthetics of the entrance to Petaluma, clean air and Shollenberger Park, there remain a couple regulatory hurdles that Dutra needs to overcome. This may be an insurmountable one. If you’d like to get deeper into the project’s background and evolution, I suggest you take a peak at the Stop the Dutra Asphalt Plant site here: http://nopetalumaasphaltplant.com/. The site has not been updated in some time, but contains much useful background.

  2. Susan
    November 20, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Dare we hope?

    • Christopher Fisher
      November 21, 2016 at 4:07 pm

      We do! I had lost hope, but it turns out it had simply been misplaced. Found it again!

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