The company that bought New Mexico-based American Cement has decided to pull the plug on a permit request that would have tripled pollution levels in a North Valley neighborhood. The permit would have allowed the facility to transfer more cement through its doors. The station is a couple blocks from La Luz Elementary at 225 Griegos.
American Cement submitted the permit request in February 2007, but Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua, which purchased American Cement in January, wants to wait to decide whether upping the permitted limits for the transfer station makes sense.
Grupo Cementos’ decision comes as a relief to Near North Valley Neighborhood Association President Claude J. Morelli, who says more pollution would decrease the quality of life for residents who live near the facility on 4702 Carlton NW. "I’m very pleasantly surprised," Morelli says. "Of course, these kinds of things don't tend to go away. We're always ready for them to put in another request later on."
Morelli was one of more than 70 North Valley dwellers who attended a public information meeting two weeks ago. Many residents spoke out against plans to increase through-traffic at the facility. Some at the meeting mentioned that their trees and cars are already covered with cement-dust emitted by the transfer station.
Doug Roark, Grupo Cementos' environmental and process manager, says his company's decision to withdraw the permit request was not affected by the complaints at the meeting. "Rather than going through with the process right now, we'd rather step back and reassess our business strategies," Roark says. "At that time, if we think it's appropriate to request a permit modification, then we'll do it. But what makes sense for a company with two facilities like American Cement may not make sense for a much bigger company like GCC."
Morelli says he's hopeful that in its re-evaluation process, Grupo Cementos will discover another place better suited for transferring cement. "They should find a way to do what they do in the least impactful way possible," Morelli says.
While Roark asserts that his company must keep up with the demand for cement to stay profitable, he says it is committed to taking residents' concerns into account. "We work in that community, and we want to be a responsible business partner," Roark says. "Part of being a successful company is being aware of that."