Submitted by Andre Long

Regarding Deb Murphy’s recent article on Olancha (https://thereal395.com/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:


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.


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