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Hexavalent chromium in TXI cement factory dust spurs lawsuit

by What happened to preventative measures? Sunday, Aug. 24, 2008 at 10:53 AM

Shared statewide concerns for residents living near cement factories regarding presence of hexavalent chromium in the cement dust, from community opposition (Clark Pacific cement in Woodland) to lawsuits (TXI cement in Riverside).

This is a shared statewide concern about the findings of hexavalent chromium particulates in TXI cement factory dust in Riverside, and a local community in Woodland (Yolo County, near Sacramento) struggling with intimidation of activists who oppose the construction of another Clark Pacific cement factory in their county without even submitting an EIR!!

from indybay.org;

Clark Pacific Cement uses threats to avoid EIR in Woodland

No EIR = Violation of CEQA

Friday Aug 15th, 2008 4:15 PM

Woodland's agricultural zoned lands could be lost forever if Clark Pacific Cement succeeds in changing their zoning to industrial. In a region where sprawl and cement are rapidly covering farmland, oaks and other habitat faster than activists can stop them, this serves as a warning of what could happen if promises of "jobs" dominate quality of life, health, ecosystem and wellness of rural communities..
Woodland CA - The Clark Pacific Cement factory has plans to come to rural Woodland, and needs to change the land's zoning from agricultural to industrial. The Yolo County Board of Supervisors have decided that there was no need to have an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) concerning this decision, leaving the public out of the process. Sounds very similar to the environmental policy of the GW Bush regime, to exclude public commentary and the ESA! Permitting industrial development like cement plants that will have significant impacts on the ecosystem without an EIR is also a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) law!!

Local activist Brenda Cedarblade and her Nelson Ranch employees have expressed their opposition publically, only to be threatened and intimidated by unknown gunmen (so-called 'squirrel hunters') and prank callers making violent threats. To this point the Yolo Sheriff has refused to investigate the 'squirrel hunters', even though the shots were fired 1,000 feet above the heads of Nelson Ranch workers Ted Wilson and Fernando Ramirez. Nobody was aware of any flying squirrels existing in this region of CA's central valley! The valley regions's numerous ground squirrels are never airborne, and one would not shoot at them from 1,000 feet away, especially when people are standing directly in the line of fire!!

All this antagonism most likely is coming from the Clark Pacific Cement corporation that promises union jobs for Woodland should the people accept this concrete plant. This sort of threatening behavior by Clark Pacific's hired thugs is unfitting for a corporation that claims to honor workers and support labor unions. To honor workers is to also respect the wishes of the local community, even if residents say "no" to the presence of a polluting and noisy cement plant, and "no" to the platform of "jobs uber alles"..

There are several problems with the approach that exclusively favors "jobs" over the health and well being of the community. concrete plants are notorious for spreading dust and making noise during all hours of the night. There is no reason to believe that Clark Pacific would be any different. Recent coverage in the Flatlander indicates that Clark Pacific may also be engaging in some serious bully tactics against Brenda Cedarblade and her allies to prevent her from stopping this cement plant. In addition, Clark Pacific already operates a cement factory in nearby West Sacramento, so just how much cement do people need in Yolo? Sounds like a potential suburban sprawl development boom coming to Yolo with all the cement that's in the mix..

photos of Clark Pacific Cement factory in West Sac;

For the moment this issue isn't very well covered online, though several sites exist that discuss the pros and cons of allowing agricultural land in Woodland to be converted to industrial zoning for the benefit of Clark Pacific. Unfortunately many of the "pro" sites are also attacking Ms. Cedarblades credibility in a mean-spirited and unfair manner, and this sort of negates their position that their "jobs" will be an improvement for the community. On the websites opposing Clark Pacific, there is also limited discussion, and the Yolano Sierra Club has yet to publish info of this topic on their website. That leaves us with a radio talk show host Steven Webb who appears to be defending Brenda Cedarblade against the threats. Of course he adds on a needless comment about trade unions being problematic in general, comparing their attacks on Brenda to earlier (different) union attempts to regulate Wal-mart's mistreatment of employees. These sort of comparisons serve only to discredit the work Cedarblade and others are doing, as they are certainly not Wal-mart..

Shawn Smallwood, who has a Ph.D in ecology from UC Davis, is also speaking out against the Clark Pacific proposal. He has provided expert testimony to the Yolo County Board of Spervisors on how this cement factory would damage the air quality of the region and that an EIR is most definitely needed before anything gets approved. Smallwood states that there is no option for skipping the EIR as significant environmental impacts will need to be mitigated..

Here's Dr. Shawn Smallwood's statements as found on the radio website;

"An open letter to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors:

We are writing to express our deep concern about how Brenda Cedarblade and Ted Wilson have been treated since they acted on their right under the California Environmental Quality Act to challenge the Yolo County Board of Supervisors' decision to certify the Negative Declaration on Clark-Pacific's proposal to build and operate a pre-cast cement factory on land that is zoned agricultural.

It has come to our attention that the county is preparing to inspect the Historic Nelson Ranch and to possibly revoke conditional use permits related to the operation of Brenda and Ted's horse boarding business on the site. This action, if true, appears to be retaliation for Brenda and Ted's CEQA challenge. Retaliation by the government sets a precedent that could seriously threaten the use of CEQA as a tool to protect the environment by Californians.

We are concerned about the personal attacks and harassment being directed toward Brenda and Ted.

We ask that you and your colleagues investigate who is behind the harassment directed toward Ted and Brenda. We request that you intervene on plans by county staff to use CUP revocation as a means to retaliate against Ted and Brenda for their CEQA action. We ask that you do what you can to protect our ability to use CEQA as it was intended, and that you provide adequate protection of the civil liberties of the residents of Yolo County.

SHAWN SMALLWOOD, Davis and 12 others"

above statement found @;

Yolo environmental info from Yolano Sierra Club;

Value of farmland in Yolo and Sacramento Valley;

Despite the numerous complaints from myself and many others concerning the use of pesticides, herbicides and other practices of agribusiness on local farmland, it would be an even worse scenario if this zoned agricultural farmland was converted to an industrial zoned cement factory. Recovery and restoration of industrial agribusiness farmland to a more sustainable smallscale organic and permaculture farming community will be even more difficult if a cement factory stands on top of what once was soil..

When looking at the most destructive components of suburban sprawl smothering the remaining breathing soil of our Earth, cement and asphalt are the top two contenders for this 'award'. We need to protect any remaining open space, farmland, oak woodlands, wetlands and other natural habitats before our valley becomes one big strip of cement and asphalt. There's way too much cement covering the ground already, we cannot permit another cement factory to smother the soil with their impermeable material..

In other regions, cement factory dust is linked to cancer, as the materials used for cement processing often contain carcinogenic particulates like (hexavalent) chromium 6;

Living with the white dust from a cement factory
Residents of the neighborhood where high levels of chromium 6 have been measured in the air tell of health problems.

By Janet Wilson
April 16, 2008 in print edition B-1

The air above the TXI Riverside Cement Plant was blinding white Tuesday, blocking out the blue sky. For as long as Mary Alfonso, 79, can remember, dust from the factory has been a feature of life on “the Hill” just above it.

When she and her husband moved to the neighborhood near the border of Riverside and San Bernardino counties 52 years ago, they joked about its uniqueness because all the roofs were white.

“Then my car turned white – and it started out green!” said Alfonso.

The dust was annoying, and people in the neighborhood assumed it wasn’t good for them. But despite complaints over the years, they said, no one ever cleaned it up completely.

On Tuesday, residents of “the Hill” learned that the South Coast Air Quality Management District had found high levels of hexavalent chromium, a toxic carcinogen, in dust blowing from the outdoor “clinker piles” of the century-old plant in the Rubidoux area. And to add insult to injury, no officials had notified them.

“It would be nice if they even told us there was a problem,” Alfonso said as she leaned on her cane outside her neat stucco home.

The high hexavalent chromium levels, revealed Monday in The Times, were first detected by staff from the AQMD in January. But AQMD executive officer Barry Wallerstein said it would have been irresponsible to notify neighbors of hazardous emissions then, before the agency had pinned down the cement plant as the source."

entire article @;

Same deal in Riverside;

AQMD detects high levels of hexavalent chromium, cites Inland cement plant

10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Press-Enterprise

"Southern California air pollution regulators say they will crack down this week on a cement plant north of Riverside because dust laden with potentially harmful levels of cancer-causing chromium has been blowing off the property for at least the past two years.

Hexavalent chromium has been measured outside the plant at levels as high as 35 times the regional average, South Coast Air Quality Management District officials said Tuesday.

The air district will cite TXI Riverside Cement's plant for dust violations and demand that the company take immediate steps to reduce dust, said Barry Wallerstein, AQMD's chief executive.

Hexavalent chromium is the same toxic material that contaminated drinking water in the desert town of Hinkley, the subject of the movie "Erin Brockovich."

"We don't want to see people exposed to hexavalent chromium, and the AQMD is going to make sure that risk is reduced," Wallerstein said Tuesday in a telephone interview. The air district will demand that the company find ways to contain the dust, which residents say billows from the plant.

It also plans to develop a rule regulating hexavalent chromium emissions from the two cement plants in its jurisdiction. The other one is California Portland Cement in Colton.

A TXI official said Tuesday that the company will cooperate with the air district to address the problem.

Unusual hexavalent chromium levels were detected in 2004 to 2006, but the air district did not begin investigating in earnest until January and did not verify that TXI was the source until Friday, Wallerstein said."

article found @;

There seems to be a pattern with cement dust containing hexavalent chromium. Is this plan by Clark Pacific Cement really something good for the people and ecosystems of Woodland? How does "more jobs" balance out with the risk of inhaling a carcinogenic particulate on any given day of the week??

Added Comments;

Regarding The Nelson Ranch Coverage On The Equestrian Radio Network

by Richard Van Owen

Sunday Aug 17th, 2008 8:26 PM

First, it was Richard Van Owen’s talking points, not Steven Webb’s used on Equestrian Radio Network that was referred to.

Our comparisons to Union tactics, regarding Wal-Mart, had to do with CEQA. The Unions successfully used CEQA to stop the construction of two Wal-Marts in Bakersfield, California. Brenda Cedarblade, is using the same tactic to stop the construction of the Clark Pacific cement plant in Woodland, California.

Make no mistake Union brass were one hundred percent behind the attacks on Brenda Cedarblade, and the Historic Nelson Ranch. Not only did Brenda, come under attack, but so did her supporters as reported; including us. We had Rent A Goons travel 500 miles south, to intimidate us, by trying to smear our staff and students.

How do we know who hired these Goons? According to one Rent A Goon, he and six others were hired at a rate of $275hr plus expenses by Union brass (names withheld on request), to do whatever was necessary to stop Brenda, from using CEQA against the project. Our Rent A Goon decided that it was overkill and some actions were downright illegal, wanting no part of it! In an interview, he ended up agreeing; that the plant was going to be harmful to the ranch and the health of the staff and horses, with all the cement dust and other pollution resulting from the construction and operation of the plant. After visiting our place, we think we turned him into an environmentalist, by seeing first hand the damage done to our area by our local cement plant.

Allot of money changed hands, some of Brenda’s close and old friends were offered thousands of dollars to turn on Brenda, and divulge information to help with a character assassination of Brenda Cedarblade & Ted Wilson; her husband. I know first hand, some very close to Brenda took the bait (cash), turning over information to these Goons. Other information came from tapping phone calls, planted listening devices on the ranch, and very expensive background checks.

We are sorry you were offended by the facts, but we are the ones in addition to Brenda, that had to deal with them. The Unions, not Clark Pacific, hired the Goon at our doorstep. Sure, Clark Pacific may have put them up to it; just as the big grocery stores sick the Unions on Wal-Mart. Why not go after non-union K-Mart or Target? They both treat their employees like cattle dung, and pay them even less; their stuff is made in the same China as Wal-Mart’s are. Could it be that K-Mart and Target are not a threat to mega companies like Albertson’s or Safeway? Albertson’s is owned by one of the most anti union originations we have in this nation, and have done everything they can think of to screw their workers. Including implementing the right to work laws, AKA the right to screw worker laws in states they control.

Supporting workers is one thing, justifying or denying the bulling tactics of the Unions is another. I for one always want to know who is behind the curtain, pulling the strings of the Rent A Goon at my door.

For the record: Our Cement Plant up the road from us, is more than likely behind allot the illnesses and early deaths from cancer, bladder and lung disease in the area. Our water has the texture of chalk powder, the dust raining down is very coarse, and the trees have burn marks near the top. We know how harmful a silent cement plant can be to our health.

Richard Van Owen
Equestrian Radio Network


Added Comments;

Encouraging whistleblowers to speak out

Restoring dignity to unionized workers

Saturday Aug 23rd, 2008 1:38 PM

Thanks for the quick comment. Am glad that union activists were able to use CEQA to shut down anti-union Wal-mart developments, and am also glad that Brenda Cedarblade and other eco-regional activists are using the very same CEQA to prevent a potentially dangerous cement factory from spewing their hexavalent chromium dust in Woodland. That doesn't sound like there's very much similarity there other than CEQA can be used by different parties (labor unions, individuals, neighborhoods, environmental activsts, etc..) for different reasons as it exists to protect the environment from polluting corporations..

There seems a greater possiblilty in people with ethics coming forward and exposing the individuals responsible for hiring thugs to intimidate Brenda Cedarblade and her allies. Clearly the Clark Pacific cement corporation itself is winking and nodding their approval to threats and having some corrupt union officials do their dirty work? Labor union members always need to stay aware of internal corruption so that unions as a whole are not tainted in scandals like this one..

It would be good to investigate the Clark Pacific local union branch and the recent activities of the union leadership as it pertains to their mutual interest in opening another factory in Woodland. Here is what i could locate from Associated General Contracters (AGC) ;

"Clark Pacific

1980 S River Rd West Sacramento, CA 95691-2888
Contact: James Clark
Phone: (916) 371-0305
Fax: (916) 372-0323
Email: info [at] clarkpacific.com
Website: http://www.clarkpacific.com



Clark Pacific has been in the architectural precast, thinshell, G.F.R.C., granite and structural precast industry for approximately 30 years. During this time, Clark Pacific has established an excellent reputation for quality precast work throughout the states of California and Nevada. Clark Pacific performs all phases of the precast project using experienced in-house engineering, production, and erection crews which enables us to provide a full cycle of service to our clients. Due to our expertise and high level of experience, we have been and will continue to be instrumental in solving many of the design problems encountered in precast concrete projects."

profile found @;

Maybe the links between jobs, construction and suburban sprawl is more entrenched than i thought and there is a real collusion between the corporation's management and the union leadership when it comes to countering community opposition to potentially polluting industrial development..

Maybe the people of West Sac living near the current Clark Pacific cement factory need to read about the findings of hexavalanet chromium in Riverside's cement factory dust, and the people of Woodland certainly need to know about this before approving another cement factory in Yolo county..

That being the case, it is easy to understand how Clark Pacific management and the union leadership have a shared interest in stifling dissent and learning of this important neighborhood health care matter..

The latest from Riverside is a lawsuit;

"Brown Sues Cement Plant For Hexavalent Chromium Exposure"

July 08, 2008

"RIVERSIDE--California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. and District Attorney Rod Pacheco sued TXI International, a Riverside cement plant, for exposing people to the potent carcinogen hexavalent chromium without providing warnings to the community as required by law.

"Dust, which contained elevated levels of cancer-causing hexavalent chromium, escaped into the air in violation of state law," Attorney General Brown said. "California is suing the company to get them to stop their practices which cause chromium exposure."

In late 2007, the South Coast Air Quality Management District discovered that ambient quantities of hexavalent chromium, a potent carcinogen, were up to 50 times the level that would trigger a mandatory public warning under Proposition 65, the state´s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. Investigators traced the source of the chromium to dust piles on a four acre plot at a cement factory operated by TXI International.

Since 2006 the company knew that there were four acres of uncovered and unwetted dust piles that contained chromium at a cement plant it operated. The company knew that fugitive emissions from the dust piles were spreading into the surrounding areas, including the nearby Fleetwood Motor Homes facility, where the emissions caused exposure to hexavalent chromium to persons living, working, or otherwise present in the area."

article cont's @;

Sounds like Clark Pacific may have something else to hide in West Sac??
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Mr. Apricot Boy Monday, Aug. 25, 2008 at 6:30 AM
Protection of community is first priority do we ignore hexavalent chromium? Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2008 at 3:05 PM
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Baird Holm Law of Nebraska Hired to Take Down California Rancher is Clark Pacific to blame SNACKS Wednesday, Dec. 03, 2008 at 10:43 PM
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