Clearing the Air
The saga of North Valley residents battling a cement company in their neighborhood may have come to a close. On Wednesday, March 10, the city’s Air Quality Control Board approved a settlement agreement between the Greater Gardner Neighborhood Association and American Cement.
From the top: In 2007, American Cement asked the city for a permit that would allow it to emit three times more cement dust into the neighborhood. Months later, around 70 neighbors voiced opposition, citing air quality, health concerns and increased traffic. The transfer station is blocks away from Mountain Mahogany Community School and La Luz Elementary.
American Cement was purchased by Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua, which pulled the plug on the permit request in early April 2008. A year later, Grupo Cementos upped the ante. The company sought permission to operate the American Cement transfer station 24 hours a day, seven days a week and to emit almost five times as much dust each year. Meetings were held in 2009, and more than a hundred people attended. Despite protests, the permit was granted.
The neighbors appealed, and the Environmental Protection Agency got involved. The federal agency was concerned about the enforceability of the permit.
Weeks ago, the neighborhood and American Cement reached an agreement. Under it, the company will report any excess emissions to the neighborhood and will install Bag Leak Detectors, which will monitor silos around the clock, among other things.
Though the settlement was approved by the board, the city’s Air Quality Division still has to work the new requirements into the plant's permit.