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Protect Air Quality in Truckee

Is it time for the Teichert asphalt plant to move out of town?
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By Truckee Residents United to Protect Air Quality in Truckee

Our lovely mountain town has an asphalt manufacturing plant in the middle of it. That plant, which operates in Martis Valley and is visible from Glenshire Drive and Interstate 80, is located within a gravel mine site. Teichert, owner of the plant, is proposing to expand the scope of their permit to formally encompass recycling of asphalt materials. While recycling sounds like a good, environmentally responsible thing to do, upon closer investigation it is not. And, an asphalt factory of any sort in our town may no longer be appropriate.

The Martis Valley quarry was first permitted for limited aggregate mining in the 1950s. A conditional use permit for the asphalt plant was added and approved by Nevada County in 1983. Now that Truckee is a town, an asphalt plant would not be approved under the current zoning of resource conservation (RC) and open space. The last time the Town took a look at the permits for this operation was in 2002. Although the mine and plant are required to be reviewed every five years, it hasn’t been done in 15 years. Now is the time to examine whether this mine and factory are appropriate for our town.

Since 2000 the population of Glenshire has grown by 80 percent. We understand that Teichert is now the only large asphalt plant in our area and has likely expanded its operations since 2002, resulting in an increase in truck traffic, plant emissions, operating hours, etc. Residents who live near the plant report noise issues, noxious fumes, and constant ash and dust particles. Many residents state that they can’t open windows in the summer due to the odor and particulates. The plant is allowed to operate 24 hours a day. Is this an appropriate use under our zoning laws?

California law requires projects that may impact the environment to undergo a rigorous environmental impact assessment under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). We believe that such an assessment needs to occur, especially since Teichert is requesting an expansion of the use of the plant to formally include recycling asphalt for an unlimited period, even after mining operations stop. Asphalt production involves use of toxins and carcinogens such as benzene, toluene, and perchloroethylene. Recycling of asphalt may add its own chemical risks as well as increased dust and emissions from the transport and processing of the additional material. What protections need to be put in place to ensure that these operations don’t harm residents, spoil our beautiful environment, or decrease our property values? It’s time to encourage Teichert to move this plant to another of their facilities that isn’t in our town. At the very least, we need to ensure that a thorough environmental assessment of this facility is performed. After a 15-year hiatus from oversight, a closer look is undoubtedly needed.

Please consider attending the Planning Commission meeting on Mar. 21 at 6 p.m. at the Town hall to voice your concerns. Please put your thoughts in writing and/or email by Mar. 17 for the Town Planning Commission’s consideration, c/o Kirk Skierski, assistant planner with the Town of Truckee, kskierski@townoftruckee.com.

~ Visit facebook.com/protectairqualityinTruckee/ to like and share this initiative.

 
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The Opinion Page is your place to spout off. This section contains letters to the editor and longer My Shot pieces. Also, the Spout features two bimonthly perspectives — In the Past, delving into Tahoe Truckee history, and In the Moment, an artistic musing of a moment today.

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May 12, 2017