Petaluma City Council Meets on Dutra CO. Asphalt Plant Proposal Last Night

Our Community’s Finest Hour (s) We Stand United Against the Dutra Asphalt Plant Proposal

 From 9 PM to well past 11 PM, the Petaluma City Council heard testimony from regular citizens, technical experts, naturalists, rowers, teachers and docents, environmentalists and birders – all raising their voices to defend and protect the health, education, economic viability of Petaluma. It’s unanimous – the Dutra Asphalt Plant located at Haystack Landing is a bad idea. It’s a legal battle waiting to happen. Our Council asked for additions and comments on the strong letter they are sending, signed by all seven members, urging the Sonoma County Supervisors to deny Dutra a Use Permit to operate this huge Asphalt Plant at the gateway to Petaluma and the entire county.

 When was the last time our Council spoke with one voice?  This is serious - this plant would impact our health and viability as a community and it seems like we can’t control our own fate. But we can! Yes we can!

One speaker recalled that Petaluma has a history of leadership in environmental progress, that our former Mayor, Helen Putnam took our zero growth quest all the way to the Supreme Court. Joan Cooper, Friends of Shollenberger Park member said: “There’s a new wind blowing, now that President Obama has been inaugurated, and this wind doesn’t have cancer causing PAHs in it.”

Although counties all over the US are looking hungrily towards “Obama money” coming down the pike for their infrastructure projects, would President Obama be happy to hear this money is being used to pollute and degrade open space, go against the will of the community, and invest in old polluting technology with greedy, questionable owners?

Teachers and Docents spoke about the thousands of children who learn about nature and science with Shollenberger as their natural laboratory. These children would be at risk with polluting Path’s and diesel exhaust pumping out of Dutra’s site across the rive. A chemist spoke about the stupidity of placing a plant with these toxic by-product across from public open space. “It would be as stupid as taking a tube from the exhaust pipe of your truck and sticking its other end into the cab.”

 A father talked about Shollenberger as a place where parents go for respite, quietude, and for those who believe a sense of God. Chief Docent of Shollenberger Park and Heron and Egret Colony Official Observer, Bob Dyer spoke about the impact of loud noise, lights, truck on the viable and growing nesting place of these birds in the trees on site.” Egrets and Herons choose their nesting place,” he said and if disturbed they will choose to leave. David Keller, Friends of the River spoke about the underestimation of the toxic air and water quality impacts of the plant. He warned that Dutra Co. will say that their proposed plant will be safe, and these impacts mitigated, but actual observation of a working plant in Irvine by Keller, showed how toxic, unfiltered and unsupervised the release of PAHs (Blue smoke and particulates were as trucks entered the so called negative out flow tunnel and how intense the diesel exhausts of trucks lining up to pick up loads of hot asphalt was in the surrounding area.

Most bone-chilling was the testimony of a San Pedro Road Alliance member, who detailed the decades long struggle against Durra Co.s practices at their quarry site in Marin Co.  The subject of a Marin Co. Grand Jury Investigation,  Dutra ‘has failed to comply with court orders to modify their hours of operation and has made the neighbors and homeowners’ lives a  nightmare of blasting, diesel truck  traffic, and lawsuits to protect themselves from this company’s activities. He warned the Council of Dutra’s tactics of delay, failure to produce documents that detail their operations, deep pockets. “You are just at the beginning!”

Citizens urged the Council “to put some teeth, preferably canines” onto their letter to the County Supervisors and to meet with them personally to carry the voice of the Petaluma Community to their ears. Major Pam Torliatt urges the citizens to stay involved, contact their supervisors, and attend the 2 PM  Feb 3, 2009 Hearing  in Santa Rosa. She directed us to focus our comments not only on the toxic impact of the Asphalt Plant and its wide net of influence, degrading business, education, and health  in Petaluma, but also on the newly adopted Petaluma General Plan and its goals of sustainability
An Asphalt Plant  in this location does not meet health, environmental, and aesthetic goals for Petaluma as stated in the General Plan.

Five Supervisors will determine the fate of over 60,000 Petaluma residents. We only need three “NO” votes.

Petaluma has always been an environmental leader, and we will lead in this arena as well. Yes , Sonoma County needs asphalt. But it is the responsibility of the Sonoma County Supervisors to  “Preserve and protect the tranquility” of their citizens. An asphalt plant must be operated by an ethical company, who will act in good faith to preserve and protect the quality of life in Sonoma . It must be a truly state of the art facility with maximum enclosure and filtration of toxics. It must be located at a site that does not impact our most vulnerable  and defenseless populations: the sick, the elderly, babies and children, wildlife and wetland ecosystem. There is a new wind blowing against greed and for Green. YES WE CAN!

 Come to our Fund and Consciousness Raiser
Art Music Energy
Bring Artwork to  Wetlands
 SAT JAN 31 4-6 PM
322 Western Ave Petaluma (next to Tea Café)
Music  by Gabby Lala Wine Cheese Conversation

 Joan Cooper
Friends of Shollenberger Park and Clean Air