Letter to the Editor: Impact ‘devastating’ for Cartago, Olancha

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Submitted by Andre Long

Regarding Deb Murphy’s recent article on Olancha (http://sierrawave.net/olancha-cartago-the-gateway-to-the-sierra-nevadas/), here is the stone cold truth about the subject:

Cartago near Owens Lake. File photo courtesy of Scott Palamar

Caltrans has completely disregarded the wishes of the Olancha community from the very beginning of this project.  Why else would they construct a 50-acre open pit material mine and asphalt plant in Olancha at the end of Fall Road? Caltrans expects to remove approximately 765,000 tons of in-situ material and manufacture all the asphalt they need for the bypass (this is their estimate). They also plan to keep the plant indefinitely for future use.  This project would never have been placed in Lone Pine or Bishop.  However, because of the lack of political influence and general poverty of the area, Caltrans is placing this smack in our community while there are many other viable locations for this facility.  The impact will be devastating and will include the following:

AIR QUALITY DEGRADATION

Asphalt plants mix gravel and sand with crude oil derivatives to make the asphalt. The operation of this plant will likely release significant amounts of chemicals into the air including many cancer-causing toxic air pollutants such as arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde and cadmium. Other toxic chemicals will also be released into the air as the asphalt is loaded into trucks and hauled from the plant site, including volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and very fine condensed particulates.

NOISE DEGRADATION

Removal of hundreds of thousands of tons of material will be accomplished using loud manufacturing and extraction equipment such as rock crushers, mixing drums, and excavators and will emit noticeable levels of noise, dust, and vibration.  Plus there will be additional noise of the tractor/trailer rigs that will be coming and going from the facility.

WATER QUALITY DEGRADATION                                                                         

Asphalt plants are also known water polluters.  As this plant will be located adjacent to Olancha Creek, the risk of contamination is real. One example of a dangerous asphalt plant contaminant is polycyclic aromatic compounds.  The entire community gets their water from wells in the same aquifer of the proposed plant.  Any discharge from storm and wastewater is likely to go directly into our wells, springs, and Olancha Creek.

So the next time you say that “CalTrans won’t leave the little communities in the lurch,” please check your facts as this proposed facility is a monumental travesty.  Moreover, we expect our local media to be concerned about environmental justice and support the community and not be part of Caltrans propaganda machine.

Andre Long

Very Concerned Citizen

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13 Comments
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Deb Reese
Deb Reese
2 years ago

Average citizen, you are mistaken. I have never been in favor of widening the existing Hwy 395. I grew up in Lone Pine and have lived most of my 70 years in Olancha. I live up Fall Road. I have attended CalTrans meetings, collected maps, asked questions and picked up… Read more »

Average Citizen
Average Citizen
2 years ago

If any of you in favor of the bypass did your homework, you would know that that dangerous highway conditions occur at any 2-lane to 4-lane transitions. The locals were in favor of widening the highway along the exiting alignment, which would have improved safety and the community. Caltrans based… Read more »

Charles O. Jones
Charles O. Jones
2 years ago

Did your preferred plan include 4 lanes, separated by a median, similar to rest of 395 in the OV?

sugarmags
sugarmags
2 years ago

and the alternative of trucking asphalt in long distances is better? I don’t think so. Oh, and how about the material site used by Caltrans right next to Independence….used for a project and then reclaimed. Didn’t seem to be an issue.

Trouble
Trouble
2 years ago

Folks that are now complaining about the new route, should have fought to fix this problem 20 years ago! Fix the death trap!

Earl Duran
Earl Duran
2 years ago

As an Olancha resident, I live on Fall Rd. I am worried they are going to ruin Fall Rd. with all the Trucks and heavy Equipment day and night. The air quality is already bad, from all the Dust coming off the Owens Dry lake, this is going to be… Read more »

Steve
Steve
2 years ago
Reply to  Earl Duran

Earl, at the last meeting held at the Olancha fire house. Cal Trans made a point of saying Fall Rd. will not be used for the project. All work being done will stay on the new alignment. They are not planing to rebuild Fall Rd or the narrow bridge that… Read more »

Andre Long
Andre Long
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve

In their May 31, 2017, response to LADWP’s comments on the Final Environmental Report, Appendix P, p. 7, Caltrans ADMITS AND STATES UNEQUIVOCALLY that there will be “additional traffic on Fall Road.” Since this open pit mine is in the middle of the project, how else are they going to… Read more »

Michele
Michele
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve

A few years ago a property owner who has a few acres bordering Fall road cleared his land. I am not sure of the reason but I remember the consequences and so does everyone else who lived in the area. That will be nothing when compared to the estimated extraction… Read more »

Steve
Steve
2 years ago

My house is the closest to the plant at about 1/2 mile away. With the environmental laws today I am not in fear of the disaster you think it will be. But I am in fear of the death zone called Olancha and Cartago. Way to many have lost lives… Read more »

andre long
andre long
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Caltrans provided the figure of 1/2 mile but houses on Summer Road are closer to 1/4 mile from the east boundry of this 50 acre open pit mine.

Greg weirick
Greg weirick
2 years ago

Hello, there are 3 plants around Bishop and the one used in Independence to make asphalt was restored and is barely visible today! Batch plants as they are called, are located near highway projects to be environmentally friendly because of all the fuel savings from hauling long distance! Hot mix… Read more »

Charlie
Charlie
2 years ago

He has a good point. Further proof that scales are tipped against residents of Cartago and Olancha.