CCC to Hold CEMEX Plant Hearing at July Meeting
The California Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission are reviewing sand mining operations at the CEMEX plant in Marina to save the coast from further erosion. (Photo: Steve Zmak).
The Ventana Chapter has been following studies on the erosion of the shoreline around the CEMEX Lapis plant in Marina since 2008. The shoreline from Monterey to the Salinas River is currently eroding at about 4 feet per year as a result of mining activity from the CEMEX 400-acre plant site. This sand extraction and dredging operation is the largest human contributing factor to erosion on the California coastline.
CEMEX mines about 300,000 tons of sand annually from a dredge pond at the edge of the beach. A conclusion of the Regional Sediment Management Plan (Phillip Williams and Associates, 2008) funded by the California Department of Boating and Waterways is that the sand dredged from the pond is derived from the ocean and that this operation is a primary cause of beach and dune erosion in southern Monterey Bay. In 2016, Southern Monterey Bay was identified by the U.S. Geological Survey as having the highest average erosion rate in the State of California.
The California Coastal Commission (CCC) has been looking into CEMEX for possible violations of the Coastal Act for the last few years. In March, 2016 the CCC threatened to issue a cease and desist order over the violations and the two parties have been in negotiations ever since.
Last month, the State Lands Commission sent a letter to CEMEX demanding they obtain a lease from this state agency that regulates offshore drilling, and start paying royalties or cease operations. (PDF of State Lands letter here) A lease application would require scrutiny under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Furthermore, the commission added that if CEMEX does not apply for a lease, complete environmental review and pay royalties, it could face penalties. This issue will be heard at the CCC July 12-13 meeting in Marina at California State University Monterey Bay.
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