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County Upholds Planning Commission Approval of Lehigh Permanente Quarry Reclamation Plan Amendment

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Today, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors approved the Amendment to the 1985 Permanente Quarry Reclamation Plan for Lehigh Southwest Cement Company, upholding a decision by the Santa Clara County Planning Commission on June 7, 2012.  The quarry, located in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, west of the City of Cupertino, has been an active quarry since about 1903.

The Board’s decision ends a several year process of hearings and community outreach to ensure that when the mining operations are concluded at Permanente Quarry, the site will be restored to its pre-mining condition consistent with the mandatory California’s Surface Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975 (SMARA) requirements.
 
“The Permanente Quarry has been in operation for more than 100 years,” said President George Shirakawa, County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors.  “Today’s action by the Board will lay the groundwork for the restoration of the land when it is no longer being mined.”
 
The Reclamation Plan Amendment modifies and updates the 1985 Permanente Quarry Reclamation Plan.  It also encompasses the additional areas of mining activity located outside the 1985 Reclamation Plan boundary as identified in two SMARA violations issued by the County to the quarry operator. In considering the Reclamation Plan Amendment, the Planning Commission determined that it complied with the SMARA standards and that amending the 1985 Reclamation Plan to encompass all of the disturbed area will correct those violations.
 
One concern raised about the operation is selenium, a naturally occurring substance when water comes in contact with limestone.  The oxidation process produces selenium runoff.  Over the 20 year period of the Reclamation Plan, the company will fill in the pit which will minimize and eventually reduce the occurrence of selenium runoff. 
 
“This Plan is thorough and complete,” said Supervisor Liz Kniss.  “Our Planning Commission has included 89 conditions which address issues in the Environmental Impact Report. There will be annual inspections and Lehigh has posted a $47 million bond to ensure that this reclamation happens as outlined in the Reclamation Plan.”
 
“The Reclamation Plan has been thoroughly vetted by staff and the State Office of Mine Reclamation,” said Nash Gonzalez, Planning Director.  “This has been a particularly complex project that involved extensive public outreach and public testimony over several years.  The Planning Department staff has put in thousands of hours and has handled this matter in a very professional manner.”
 
The approved Reclamation Plan provides for greater oversight.  The 1985 Plan had sixteen conditions.  Not only does the newly approved Reclamation Plan have 89 conditions (which is 73 more than the 1985 Amendment), it also provides for higher performance standards for re-vegetation of all disturbed areas, minimizing selenium runoff and an increased level of reporting and monitoring.
 
The Board also ratified the Final Environmental Impact Report in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act.
 

Media Contact: Gwendolyn Mitchell, Office of Public Affairs, (408) 299-5119
Posted: June 26, 2012