Proposed Vallejo Export Terminal and Cement Plant Could Harm the Bay

Nov 18, 2015

A bulk shipping port and cement plant proposed along the shores of Mare Island Strait in Vallejo could contaminate San Francisco Bay and nearby communities, Baykeeper recently told Vallejo city leaders. Baykeeper is particularly concerned that the terminal would be used to ship dirty fossil fuels such as coal and petroleum coke, a toxic byproduct of oil refining. It’s likely that toxic dust would be blown and washed into the Bay.

The project would also fill several acres of Bay wetlands, reduce public access to the shoreline, and disrupt the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Vallejo Marine Terminal, LLC and Orcem Cement propose to build a deep-water port, a bulk shipping terminal, and a cement plant at the site of a former General Mills flour mill that has been closed since 2004.

The bulk shipping terminal would handle a variety of materials, and the project developers have not ruled out using the terminal to export coal. If coal were exported from the terminal, it would cause problems similar to those that would be caused by a coal export terminal planned for Oakland, which Baykeeper is opposing.

In that case, the Oakland developer initially did not disclose the plan to use the terminal to export coal. Because the coal industry is pushing to export more coal through California ports, Baykeeper is concerned that developers of the Vallejo Marine Terminal may also be planning to do the same.

The Orcem Cement plant would manufacture ground granular blast furnace slag to be used as a substitute for Portland cement, a basic ingredient of concrete and stucco. Blast furnace slag would arrive via ship, and could also be spilled into the Bay during unloading.

Baykeeper pointed out to Vallejo leaders that the Vallejo Marine Terminal/Orcem Cement project environmental impact documents fail to discuss how the export terminal would address the pollution impacts of handling dirty fossil fuels such as petroleum coke or coal. The environmental impact documents also fail to consider or mitigate for the contaminated storm water that would flow into the Bay, or the harm caused by filling wetlands, dredging, and reduced public access to the shoreline.

Sierra Club is partnering with us to oppose this project. Several Vallejo residents are also taking a stand to prevent it. We will continue to oppose the project and expect final environmental documents to be released in spring or summer 2016.

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