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Guest Commentary by Dr. Lee Rogers
| Monday, Sep 10, 2012
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Aggregate blasting at Palo Verde Sand & Gravel

Lee Rogers, M.D.

On Saturday, I toured the location for the proposed Cemex mine with Andy Fried from Safe Action For the Environment (SAFE).  The location is about 3 miles North of Hwy 14 off of the Soledad Canyon Road exit.  It’s a long walk to the mine site, up a private road in disrepair.  The first thing I noticed was the wind.  It was constant and blowing dust and the leaves on brush.

The mining plan calls for weekly blasting at the mountain.  If you’re unfamiliar with what a typical blast looks like, look at the video above to see blasting at an aggregate mine on a mountain that looks similar to the terrain in Soledad Canyon. Note the dust fallout after the blast and imagine that dust being carried by the typical winds in the SCV, not to mention the occasional strong Santa Ana winds.  Significant dust would also be created from loading and hauling of the aggregate.  Winds would carry this particulate matter throughout the valley.  The minerals exposed during mining would be carried by rains into the waterways, risking contamination.

The second thing I noticed was the traffic noise from Hwy 14.  I was standing on the South side of the mountain to be leveled and couldn’t see the highway, but I could clearly hear the road noise.  The North side of the mountain is visible from the Highway and it is likely that mining operations could be seen from the road.

The Environmental Impact Report estimates 1,200 rock trucks per day would enter and leave the mine.  This added traffic along a congested Hwy 14 adds to the commuter problems of the Santa Clarita Valley and the Antelope Valley, which already has the longest average commute time of any similar sized community in the US.

These factors cannot be mitigated.  The only way to prevent the impact is to stop the mine.

Nearly 120 local organizations oppose the mine and the City of Santa Clarita’s recent poll indicates a majority of citizens disapprove of it.  But how do we stop it?  The City and interested parties have exhausted legal options.  It requires a legislative solution in Congress to cancel the mining contract.  Senator Barbara Boxer has introduced S.759, which would stop the mine and all parties have agreed to it, including Cemex.

The problem is that a companion bill is needed in the House of Representatives and our Congressman, Buck McKeon, has refused to introduce the legislation.  I’ve called on him numerous times to put aside politics and take care of our community.  The Santa Clarita City Council sent him a clear message with a 5-0 vote asking that he work with Senator Boxer to help stop the mine.  McKeon has stated he will not act during this session of Congress.

I have vowed to make this my top priority if elected to Congress.  There are few things that your US Congressman can do to directly impact your life, but this is one and for our community’s sake, it must be done.

 

Dr. Lee Rogers, a Simi Valley podiatrist, is the Democratic challenger for California’s 25th Congressional District seat in the Nov. 6 election.

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