MAC: Mines and Communities

Cemex gets blasted in Dominican Republic & US

Published by MAC on 2010-11-01
Source: Dominican Today, Los Angeles Times (2010-10-20)

The world's third largest cement manufacturer, Cemex, has been accused of polluting a major river in the Dominican Republic.

US environmentalists claim that the company's plans to blast for sand and gravel on a Californian mountain risks contaminating further one of the smoggiest regions in the country.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, local Native Americans are divided over the proposal; some of them having already received pay-outs from Cemex.

EXTERNAL LINK: http://www.jessemorrowmountain.org - The purpose of Friends of Jesse Morrow Mountain, Inc. is to prevent mining on Jesse Morrow Mountain.

 ESPAÑOL

Environment Minister says Cemex Dominicana pollutes major river

Dominican Today

20 October 2010

Santo Domingo - Environment minister Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal yesterday accused some industries of polluting the Higuamo river by dumping waste and warned Cemex Dominicana of drastic measures if it doesn't halt that practice.

The official said Environment conducts a plan to recover the Higuamo that includes forcing the industries to install treatment plants, and affirmed that some have already taken measures, but noted that the sugar mills still dump their waste directly into the river. "They dump the hot water in the river. The Higuamo in some periods has a temperature that averages 40C and a PH of 4.5, at that temperature little life can survive in the Higuamo. That's incredible."

Fernandez Mirabal, interviewed by newspaper El Caribe, affirmed that the authorities managed to get the Cesar Iglesias and Brugal factories to install treatment plants at the river, but the cement maker Cemex Dominicana "continues spilling such a high level of particulates that it pollutes the Higuamo."

He said whenever the authorities ask it to stop contaminating, Cemex Dominicana resorts to its "famous damaged filter. We sent a letter telling them that our flexibility could appear to be complicity and we don't want that, they promised us that they are going to correct it in just a short time because those smaller particulates les enter people's lungs."

As to the alleged delays when companies request Environment Ministry permits, the official admitted being "unwavering," but blamed the technicians hired by them. "They do like the bad doctors who leave a patient hospitalized a few days more to charge more. They say they have to pay me because ‘that minister is unwavering, he's a hard bastard."

No frontal fights

The Environment Minister added that he makes a big effort to recover the Higuamo river, but noted that he's confronted by sectors powerful "the fight cannot be waged directly, frontally, instead in a sustained manner because once we tighten the grip on an owner of a factory that pollutes, the press slams the Environment Ministry."


Mining plan near Sequoia park divides region?

Environmental and cultural interests battle economic needs in Fresno County dispute

By Louis Sahagun

Los Angeles Times

26 September 2010

A Mexican cement company's 100-year plan to blast gravel off a mountain at a scenic gateway to Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks has pitted the environmental and cultural interests of San Joaquin Valley ranchers and Native Americans against the economic needs of the region.

Cemex, one of the world's largest suppliers of building materials, wants to blast and drill 2 million tons of sand and gravel each year on the southern face of Jesse Morrow Mountain, a western Sierra Nevada peak towering over California 180, about 20 miles southeast of Fresno.

Cemex spokeswoman Jennifer Borgen said the mine would supply the region for decades to come, create 40 new jobs and add about $48 million annually to Fresno County's economy.

"It will also actually reduce air pollution and greenhouse emissions," she said, "because the conveyor belts will be covered and the material will be close to customers. As a result, it will cut back on fuel emissions and reduce truck miles."

Opponents, however, fear it could become a major source of hazardous particulates and ozone in a region ranked as one of the smoggiest in the United States.

The proposal has already caused a rift within the Choinumni Tribe, one faction of which has received money and land from Cemex.

Starting in 2012, mine workers would blast down the mountain in a series of mile-long "benches," removing granite to be crushed for building material. After a bench is mined out, the one above it would be restored with topsoil and natural vegetation. Initially, the ridgeline of the mined portion of the mountain would be lowered 400 feet.

The proposal calls for 954 truck trips a day along the two-lane country highway that streaks past fruit orchards, a winery, cattle ranches and panoramic vistas of oak forests and meadows strewn with the remnants of ancient Native American villages.

Now, with the Fresno County Planning Commission preparing to vote on the project's environmental impact report, opponents organized under the banner Friends of Jesse Morrow Mountain are stepping up their campaign to prevent the mine from being built.

"When I first heard about this proposal, my heart fell into my shoes," said Jim Van Haun, who, with his wife, built the 20-acre Cedar View Winery and adjacent Sequoia View Bed & Breakfast in the shadow of Jesse Morrow Mountain in 1998. "It will destroy a priceless view shed and unique ambience."

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