First the Carr Fire, Now a Proposed Asphalt Plant Expansion

In case this is the first you are hearing of this, I will try to be brief and objective while reining in some fairly strong emotions.

They want to build an asphalt plant in my neighborhood. 

More specifically, Crystal Creek Aggregate would like to expand its existing operations to include around-the-clock asphalt production, as well as expansion of existing quarry operations, including cement recycling.  

Hold on, but that’s business, right?  A man’s got a perfect right to expand and improve his business.  Normally, yes.  Absolutely.  Crystal Creek Aggregate has been our neighbor for more than 20 years.  Good neighbor, in fact.

But when they plan to make a product that creates toxic fumes and substances, generating noise pollution at all hours of day and night, all to produce a product that undermines the value of my home … well, it’s time to draw a line.  It’s not all about economics, anymore.  I believe that Crystal Creek Aggregate’s proposal crosses the line into  the right we all share to a certain quality of life.

Speaking of lines, draw a circle on the map that encompasses a one-mile radius around Crystal Creek Aggregate, and lo and behold, therein lie both the towns of Keswick and Shasta. 

Oh, and there’s Middle Creek, the Sacramento River, the Sacramento River Trail, The FB Trailhead and much of the French Fry Trail.  Extend that circle a paltry half mile and we’ve taken in the Highland Park, and Land Park Subdivision, the sparkling new subdivision of Salt Creek. 

All those places are in fairly close proximity to the proposed plant, and some of its fumes and particulates are bound to escape and simply go with the wind, as they say. 

I’m no scientist, but there are plenty of hazards to take into account. If you have the stomach for it, Google “hazards of asphalt plants”.  You’ll be unpleasantly surprised.

Now, the matter of silence: If I’m not mistaken, that circle we drew includes a whole lot of folks who might want a say in the quality of air they breathe, and the health of the land and waters they hike, ride bikes through and fish, as well as their properties’ value. 

Why then, aren’t people complaining and making any noise?  C’mon, at least some of them.  Perhaps, it’s because they have not been notified.  Perhaps they didn’t receive the letter that landed in our mailbox on Feb. 20; a one-pager with a map and some vitally important information.  It explained how to be heard and to whom we could mail our comments and concerns.  

I’ve asked around.  It’s been hard to find many who know anything about that letter. It turns out that an invisible line of roughly 1000 feet from my home appears to delineate the extent to where this notice has reached. Isn’t it curious — or make that, a little scary — that something of this importance could receive such scant public notice?  I choose not to speculate on motives or policy.  Doing so takes a toll on the blood pressure.

You may recall that my wife and I lost everything in the Carr Fire. 

I’ve shared that experience here on A News Cafe, twice, in fact. First, I wrote about how the Carr Fire destroyed our home. A year later I wrote an update. 

Since then, we’ve rebuilt and begun what I can only call a new lease on life.  For more than a year, despite COVID and all the crazy politics, Donna and I have been pretty damn happy, celebrating life in a new home.  It was a good story, one that looked as if it had a happy ending until, well, until a week ago when that letter arrived.

It feels like a kick in the gut.  OK, true, I am doing it; I’m unashamedly playing the sympathy card.  Forgive me. It’s only because there’s so much at stake.  The challenge is daunting.  I need to convince you, the local population especially, that an asphalt plant west of town is not in our collective best interest.  

If I am correct, if there are indeed a lot more of us who would be concerned about this asphalt plant if everyone just had the facts, here is where you can find not only the letter, but see the initial environmental study, as well as contact info: www.co.shasta.ca.us/index/drm/planning/eir/crystal-creek-aggregate.

I thank you for reading this. I hope you’ll feel as alarmed about this situation as I do, and when you do, I hope that you’ll alert others so they can be informed, too. 

Jim Dowling

Jim Dowling is a retired teacher and ex-railroad brakeman/conductor. He takes pictures, gardens and, on occasion, spins a decent yarn.

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