Orcem Cement Project Facing Regulatory and Permitting Issues

The following letter was submitted to the City of Vallejo on November 2, 2015 and has just recently come to the attention of VIB. It is from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and outlines what the commission sees as a number of legal and compliance issues with the Orcem project surrounding the Draft Environmental Impact Report as it currently stands. Of course, any type of industrial development that could impact Bay Area waterways faces considerable regulatory scrutiny, and there are sure to be some efforts at horse trading on the part of Orcem to get things moving. I guess we will see what kind of negotiations or offered accommodations follow, but BCDC is an agency with jurisdiction and teeth and they don’t sound happy.

Note: Image is Redwood City CEMEX Plant


BCDCVMT.draftEIR.Comments (1)



'Orcem Cement Project Facing Regulatory and Permitting Issues' have 19 comments

  1. November 22, 2015 @ 7:49 pm carol

    so glad the state cares & won’t let them get away with it. makes me want to get up & dance.


  2. November 22, 2015 @ 10:13 pm Port Parrot

    So glad to hear that BCDC cared so much about the new Weta Maintenace Terminal on Mare Island that they didn’t even comment on the pilings that have been driven and the public access that will be restricted for a facility that isn’t subject to an EIR. How is the new Ferry Terminal/maintenance facility on Mare Island any different then a marine terminal at Sperry Mills? I know, there is no cement plant. So when the fleet of five boats are being repaired, there is zero risk of spilling oil or diesel into the Bay. In guess the fumes from the 300 gallons of diesel burned per round trip times the number of trips a day are any less polluting then trucks spewing particles on South Vallejo and Sandy Beach as they transport commuters to jobs in SF. Where is the outrage. Oh, I keep forgetting Mare Island isn’t a part of Vallejo.


    • November 23, 2015 @ 6:08 am John_K

      Didn’t notice much ref to diesel exhaust… BCDC seems more concerned with wet stuff. However, if we are considering the arithmetic of diesel exhaust, how many gallons of bunker fuel will ships be burning while berthed at VMT? How many gallons of diesel fuel will be burned by the truck traffic in and out of the VMT-Orcem facility? And on a Spare The Air day, during a temperature inversion, where will the diesel exhaust settle and accumulate?


    • November 23, 2015 @ 6:22 am Billy Goat

      Parrot, the WETA facility doesn’t entail 276 trucks a day barreling through residential neighborhoods. And of by the way, if you count the round trip, that’s double the number of truck trips — 552. Also, even if WETA does increase traffic on Mare Island, the roads there can take a lot of extra traffic before there are problems of congestion & overuse. And yes, you’re right — the WETA facility doesn’t bring a cement mill with harmful toxins and 24/7 operation.


  3. November 23, 2015 @ 7:31 am wharf rat

    ”No cracker for you Parrot” any Mariner worth his salt would know the two projects have no simularities ! your gripe about environmental processes is un-founded as the Weta project went through a multi year review – fully meeting CEQA requirements . The VMT proposal was ”two blocked” from the get-go , Maritime Profesionals found it laughable in it’s inadequesy and ignorance of modern day regulatory environments , yet Im sure those with money ”on the table” are not laughing . When the costs bourne by our City are known few in Vallejo will be laughing , reading the last paragraph kinda says it all ! what City business was defrayed by the numerous Staff hours ”kickin this dead horse” and what did that cost ? , this ill concieved project is ”super cargo” in all respects ! , when those cry not enough Staff – not enough money they should be reminded of this failure .


    • November 23, 2015 @ 5:24 pm Port Parrot

      You are so right. The VMT and the Weta facility have no similarities. The terminal at Sperry Mills is a terminal that will in its first phase accommodate a 650 ft long ship bringing slag from Asia. The second phase of the terminal will have an additional pier that will accommodate two ships of this size. This terminal will be built by removing the existing wooden piles and replacing them with concrete piles. This is very much like the piles that were driven for the Weta terminal. The new Weta terminal will accommodate 5 ferry boats. You know, a ferry terminal. Please explain to me how these two terminals are dissimilar. And while you are at it, please show me the multi-year SEQA review. I assume that since it when through the process that Orcem/VMT is going through that a EIR for the Weta Ferry Terminal exists.


      • November 23, 2015 @ 7:43 pm tramky

        Oh, geez, get real! WETA is a government agency established by the direct and POINTED action of the California state legislature. WETA provides transportation services that are considered to be an important form of mass transit, intended mostly as an alternative to all those ferry passengers instead driving their personal vehicles all around the Bay to get to and from work in San Francisco.

        What is being suggested by this whining about piles and pile-driving? That ferries and their necessary maintenance facilities should be banned from the Bay? That ALL burning of ALL fuels is, on balance, destructive of mankind, of the world, and MUST be prohibited? To what end? To return to the days of yesteryear, where we all ride horses and eliminate all the developments and consequences of the Industrial Revolution? This comes across mostly as an unfortunate peavishness. Ever lived in a place where horses are the primary form of transportation? It is NOT a pretty picture.


        • November 23, 2015 @ 8:45 pm Port Parrot

          Now you need to get real. If you are advocating that the type of Cement that Orcem is going to produce in Vallejo, which is 95% less polluting then Portland cement, is not needed for infrastructure projects in the Bay Area, then all I can say is horses***t. 95% of the stuff you buy is imported into this country by way of ship. I’m whining about pile driving because the VMT EIR goes into great detail on the environmental impact of pile driving on the marine life being effected and the state agencies who regulate these matters. I can’t for the life of me remember the EIR for Weta that discussed the same. If you can point me to the EIR for the ferry terminal, I would be grateful. I can assure you that BCDC and Fish and Game signed off on the dredging for the ferry terminal. Nor do I recall the local opposition to the project clammering for an international youth hostel and historical tourism!


      • November 23, 2015 @ 9:33 pm wharf rat

        Well Port parrot , if your gona bitch about EIR’s it might be a good idea to read them first ! and yes since the high speed catamarans will not carry a cargo of toxic slag from Asia to Vallejo we can agree on that one point , ”the now three ship accommodation is news” , the DEIR states two ships in the latter phases not three (unless you have scuttlebutt to that effect) ?.

        The two projects have nothing in common and serve an entirely different end , one is a people mover
        the other moves toxic shit both from Vallejo to foreign ports and from forigion ports to Vallejo, this is made clear in the EIR’s ”if one were to read them”. Re: the processes , the WETA ”program” process was constructed by professionals using supportable info and fact while fully compliant with CEQA and associated laws , it was foreword looking and had robust public disclosure and transparency , taking into account all the known and expected impacts while providing ”real” mitigation where needed .

        The VMT- DEIR , in contrast was seemingly written in crayon or on bar napkins ! and might go down in history as one of the worst attempts to ”scheme” a CEQA document ever ! (see BCDC response)
        referring to this site as an existing marine terminal is ”comic” there has been no significant cargo moved since WW 2 so ”existing wharf structure” is a stretch as is it’s designation as a deep water port facility , ”never having the depth to handle modern ships it became obsolete in the early 1940’s”
        this reference is as specious as comparing a flour mill to a slag / cement mill , also ”comic” .

        Why you continue to ”Parrot negative” on the WETA facility is a mystery to me , after all we could have ended up with a garbage transshipment operation for SF garbage via barge to MI rail as was attempted by past rail operator’s and their minions such as an actual Council Candidate who they funded for ??? the prospect of numerous rail cars of garbage fermenting in the sun ”leaked” and that
        became less than palatable to our community when they caught wind of it . So CEQA worked this time
        as did the many hard working Citizens who insisted on it’s application and supporting laws to protect us from operator’s and their fermented politics . Please find the below links to the WETA EIR process .

        WTA Program Environmental Impact Report – Full (56 MB .zip) – June 2003



        • November 23, 2015 @ 9:56 pm Port Parrot

          I am not negative on the Weta Ferry Terminal. I am only pointing out that there never was an EIR for that specific project. The EIR you reference talks about a new ferry terminal in Hercules/Rodeo among others, like in Antioch. The site in Rodeo was proposed as it would shave 10 minutes of the run to SF when the boats slow down when they enter the channel. You still haven’t shown me an EIR for the Weta project, because it doesn’t exist and your simple mind can’t accept that.

          Incidentally, why do you keep taking shots at Chris Platzer. that idiot couldn’t get elected dog catcher. Gee, the drydocks on MI are thriving, and the Orcem/VMT will pass thanks to Riley’s Jump Starters.


          • silasbarnabe

            November 24, 2015 @ 7:08 am silasbarnabe

            And with a handle called Port Parrot are you not taking shots at Platzer? FYI the last time the City crossed swords with Baykeepers it cost us tens of millions. I can assure you if the jumpers decide to take them on they will be humiliated.

          • January 1, 2016 @ 1:10 pm two block

            Have you tried the WETA main website ?

  4. November 23, 2015 @ 2:40 pm Peter Brooks

    Here is another letter sent to City Hall expressing concern over ORCEM and VMT.

    This is from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.



  5. November 24, 2015 @ 8:01 am Anon

    Human Health Risk Assessment for Iron and Steel Slag
    December 2011

    Human Health Risk Assessment for Iron and Steel Slag December 2011

    PREPARED FOR: National Slag Association Pleasant Grove, Utah

    ToxStrategies, Inc.
    23142 Arroyo Vista
    Rancho Santa Margarita, California USA

    Finally on pg 88.

    This updated, thorough analysis demonstrates similar conclusions to the previous assessment that the environmental applications of iron- and steel-making slag are not considered to pose a hazard to human health.



  6. November 24, 2015 @ 11:49 am Publicus

    Oh goody! The National Slag Association has funded a study that proves that Granulated Blast Furnace Slag is perfectly safe. Nothing to see here. But US Steel’s own Material Safety Data Sheet lists the same stuff as both hazardous to human health and extremely toxic to aquatic organisms. Who to believer. A trade organization with a vested interest in promoting their product or maybe the steel industry’s leader in the US. We know how trade organizations use propaganda. The cigarette industry funded study after study that “proved’ that cigarettes were perfectly safe. And now we have the fossil fuel industry still funding climate change denial studies. I guess we should be used to this kind of propaganda and just ignore it. Bottom line. If some organization stands to profit, best to ignore them.


    • November 24, 2015 @ 5:24 pm anon

      The MSDS is an important component of product stewardship and occupational safety and health. It is intended to provide workers and emergency personnel with procedures for handling or working with that substance in a safe manner, and includes information such as physical data (melting point, boiling point, flash point, etc.), toxicity, health effects, first aid, reactivity, storage, disposal, protective equipment, and spill-handling procedures. SDS formats can vary from source to source within a country depending on national requirements.

      Do you work with slag or are you an emergency provider (ha!)? Did not think so. Are you worried about warnings, such as: Harmful if absorbed through the skin. Harmful if swallowed. Causes moderate eye irritation. Avoid contact with eyes, skin, and clothing. Keep out of reach of children.
      Contact with eyes may cause irritation. May cause skin irritation in susceptible persons. Possible gastrointestinal tract irritation. May cause irritation of respiratory tract.
      Inhalation of dust may aggravate asthma. Skin, Eyes, Inhalation, Ingestion

      Move person to fresh air. If person is not breathing, call 911 or an ambulance, then give artificial respiration, preferably mouth-to-mouth, if possible. Call a poison control center or doctor for further treatment advice.

      Sounds bad? That is the MSDS warning for Vigoro® Super GreenTM Lawn Fertilizer Plus. Thousands of lbs. is sold and spread out every year from Home Depot, Lowes, ect…. Just because there is an MSDS for a product does not make it an automatic danger to a community. Even “Goat Milk hand lotion’ has a MSDS warning.

      Have a link where ToxStrategies, Inc., Rancho Santa Margarita, California USA has bad science for their report? Sorry for the rhetorical question….did not think so.


      • November 24, 2015 @ 5:57 pm wharf rat

        Heard one of the project proponents claimed the GGBFS was so safe he would eat it ! bet they will not make that claim for pet coke . ”todays specials” GGBFS in bowl with milk and honey or pet coke
        sandwich with lettuce and tomato on Irish soda bread served with choice of sides .
        Tonights desert special ”coal cobbler” .


      • November 30, 2015 @ 9:30 am Peter Brooks

        Let’s remember that ORCEM can change over to Portland Cement anytime they want. If no one is buying their precious green cement they’ll switch to Portland. It’s in the DEIR.


        • December 7, 2015 @ 2:04 pm Ben

          Ah yes, the Portland cement conversion factor. Who would use “green” cement absent some financial incentive to do so? Perhaps the tree huggers and/or governments or agencies. Profit seekers? Not likely.
          Maybe the writers of the EIR should qualify the gas house effect by saying if all green cement is used the pollutants will be x grams, at 50% green cement they increase to y grams. At 99% then the pollutants are z grams. But you can contract cancer at m grams. Truth is an elusive factor best reserved to those who speak amongst themselves of it.


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