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San Gabriel mining proposal upsets residents

March 18, 2010 12:48:11 AM PDT
A plan to shift mining operations to a new location at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains is angering many residents in Duarte and Azusa. They don't want their landscape carved up, along with more pollution. There has been some mining on the face of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Vulcan Materials Company says that its new proposal would move mining to a less visible area, but many residents are wondering at what cost.

John and Martha Jansen moved to Duarte 39 years ago and they've enjoyed having the San Gabriel Mountains in the in their backyard. The Jansens are concerned that the proposed mining project will alter the view and send dusty air their way. Martha is battling pancreatic cancer.

"Monday I start again with chemo and breathing issues, not only with my health but the health of one of my girls, who has severe asthma," said Martha.

The Jansens are among the residents in the San Gabriel Valley opposing the company's proposal. The company has already won approval from the Azusa Planning Commission to mine 80 acres on the west side of Vulcan's property, instead of 80 acres that the company had planned to mine on the east side. Vulcan says the proposed plan would not worsen the air quality.

"The South Coast Air Quality Management District, who is responsible for the air quality in our basin, indicated that our new plan would not have a negative impact on air quality," said Todd Priest, Vulcan Materials.

Vulcan says its permit with the city of Azusa allows the company to produce 10.8 million tons a year. Under the proposed plan it would produce 6 million tons. The Jansens say some of their neighbors are concerned about property values going down and they wonder what will happen to the wildlife.

"It's just not right. There are all kinds of aspects that it's the wrong thing for them to do," said John. "But I don't think they are worried about that. They're not concerned about the health of people around here. They're concerned about their profits."

Vulcan has a permit to mine in the city of Azusa until the year 2038. The company says its new proposal would mandate smaller benches contoured into the hillside.

"Benches like these would be removed and replaced with 1- to 2-foot benches, which would allow for natural habitat to increase in the area and cover up where previous mining activity has taken place," said Priest.

The Azusa City Council could vote on the issue at its meeting on April 5 and the public will have an opportunity to have their voices heard.