USA: conservation group eyes Davenport cement plant

USA: conservation group eyes Davenport cement plant
Published: 03 October 2013

Tagged Under: USA Cemex land rehabilitation 

Los Altos-based Sempervirens Fund, one of several conservation groups to recently secure 8500 mountainous acres above the Davenport cement facility, formerly owned by Cemex, is interested in acquiring the plant site as part of an ambitious plan to permanently protect the sparsely populated, postcard-beautiful coastal mountains above Santa Cruz.

The idea is in the very early stages, but Sempervirens Fund recently received a US$10,000 grant from the Center for Creative Land Recycling to further explore the environmental concerns at the site.

"Instead of having an industrial use we could have something really nice there that serves the community and serves the area," said Reed Holderman, Sempervirens Fund's executive director.

The plant is still owned by Cemex, which is working on remediation and a closure plan that is not expected to be approved before 2014.

That plan is likely to address soil and asbestos issues, as well as several above-ground fuel tanks. The plant has been the site of reported spills and clean-ups over the years, and there are deposits of cement kiln dust, including an exposed site containing an estimated 850,000 cubic yards of caked dust that fills a small valley.

Sempervirens Fund is in limbo until this plan is completed and Holderman said one possibility is to take over the land at no cost and continue the clean-up. He said other parties are interested in buying components of the plant itself from Cemex.

In addition to the 8500-acre property known as the Cemex Redwoods, Sempervirens Fund has been active in conservation efforts throughout the Santa Cruz Mountains. The group envisions piecing together what has been called "The Great Park", a protected expanse of coastal ranges running from Pescadero to Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz County Board Chairman Neal Coonerty, who represents Davenport, said he was excited about the possibility of Sempervirens Fund's involvement. "We definitely want to see a reuse of the property. We don't want to put a fence put around it and just watch it rust. We're delighted that Sempervirens Fund has in interest in it," Coonerty said, "adding the group's involvement seemed like a natural fit."