Resident since 1979, Adrienne Stenson stated the mine was permitted in 1989 for 7½ acres on a 10-acre site and worked as a sand and gravel pit off and on and has been defunct for the last seven years. She said EPHC is a vital service and people rely on them to be leaders in the community. The mine is 1.4 miles from the elementary school and added this area could barely hold on to air quality without this additional industry.
Warren Simison was a hospital administrator and chief surgeon for Portola Veterinary Hospital for 30 years. He said their quiet mountain community would be challenged with this mine. He showed a series of maps and stated EPHC would be 1.2 miles from the operational center of this mine. Simison said EPHC would hear this mine, as they want to operate 24 hours a day.
Dr. Christopher Stanton worked for 25 years at EPHC. He appreciated EPHC for taking input on the proposed mine. He said they were not against paved roads, but the proposed location of the mine is unacceptably close to Portola. As a physician he is deeply interested in human health and stated there are several risks. Silicosis is the inhalation of small particles of silica produced by mining and grinding rocks and causes permanent damage to lungs. Mine workers
can use protective equipment, but questioned about homeowners around the mine. Stanton stated there would also be considerable noise. He spoke about the 700 heavy truck trips to and from the mine daily. Dust and exhaust produced by this would head to Portola’s already tenuous air quality. Smell of asphalt production must be considered as well as toxic chemicals and he referenced Fallon Air Force Base with leaking jet fuel and rise in cancer cluster cases. Stanton worries about domestic wells at risk for contamination. The usage of 50,000 gallons of precious groundwater was alarming as the area is already in drought conditions. He said even a scaled down proposal was still unacceptable, and added no mine project of any size should be this close to Portola.
Josh Hart has been a resident for eight years, and spoke on behalf of Feather River Action Group. The group feels this mine is posing a serious risk to the Feather River. He stated the existing mine had nothing to do with what was being proposed, and was a totally different scale and would be the largest ever in Plumas County. 40 million tons of aggregate would be extracted. Hart said Plumas County residents would pay a high price while Hat Creek gets rich. He urged EPHC to oppose a mine of any size. Noise was one of the most serious concerns and would have far reaching impacts. Noise pollution would start at 6 a.m., 6 days a week and in the summer it is proposed to operate 24-hours a day for two months a year. Constant noise can lead to depression and other medical conditions.
Resident Valerie Simison stated her Portola home of 42 years is 200 feet from the proposed mine site. Simison, a retired teacher was trying to save her health, home and financial security. She said the mine would be a serious attack to the health and wellbeing of the community, adding roads were a neces-
sary need to infrastructure but this mine site is in the wrong location.
Realtor Juli Thompson stated she’s lost buyers over the proposed project. She felt property values would drop if this mine is approved and would set a dangerous precedent.
David Valle, a retired science teacher from Portola said it doesn’t matter how close you are to this mine, it would affect the entire County. He showed a picture of a Hat Creek mine in Litchfield, California
where there was a ton of dust and particulate matter engulfing the area. He stated this community would be devastated by this project.
All EPHC Directors were in opposition to the mine project. President Gail McGrath asked Director Linda Satchwell to write up an opposition for them to sign. McGrath thanked everyone for their participation and added they would not let them down.
Dear Plumas County Board of Supervisors:
Eastern Plumas Health Care’s Board of Directors are writing to voice our strong and unanimous opposition to the proposed Hat Creek Construction asphalt plant and mine site. Also, we oppose a scaled down version of the project, because a mine of any size this close to a residential area is unacceptable. And, it opens the door to the possibility that Hat Creek Construction may try to increase the scope of the project at a later date.
As outlined in our Mission Statement, we aim to “restore, preserve, and promote the health and well being of those we care for,” and we do this “in cooperation with our community.” At this time, the physical, mental, and emotional health of our patients, our staff, and our community is under threat by the proposed Hat Creek Project.
The significant risks to the health and well-being of the community we serve include air pollution, water pollution, noise, traffic congestion, mental health risks, financial risks, and more.
The greater Portola area (including Portola, Iron Horse, Delleker, C-Road, Mohawk Vista, Plumas Eureka, Blairsden-Graeagle, Gold Mountain, Whitehawk, Clio, Johnsville, and portions of Lake Davis) has been unable to meet EPA air pollution standards for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) since 2016. The California Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District’s (NSAQMD) report on the mine’s impact concludes that the mine’s increased emissions will “make it impossible to demonstrate Attainment and negate years of work at great monetary expense that have been invested in cleaning up the air in and around Portola.”
Inhalation of small particles of silica that are produced by mining and grinding of rock cause the risk of a disease called silicosis. This causes permanent lung damage, and there is no cure for it. In addition, lime from the lime kiln causes skin and eye irritation, as well as gastrointestinal issues.
Also, the mine will at times be running 24/7, resulting in non-stop noise, which is extremely stressful on our community residents, especially those in close proximity to the mine. And, the dust, exhaust fumes, and traffic from the proposed 700 heavy truck trips that will be occurring at the mine on a daily basis will add to pollution and congestion in the area.
There are many homes, an elementary school, and our hospital (1.5 miles away), all of which are in close proximity to this mine, and it puts all of us at risk. Most at risk at EPHC are our elderly skilled nursing facility patients. We are usually their last home, and we take our job of protecting our vulnerable residents very seriously.
31 March 2021
Twenty residential properties border the mine, and most if not all get their water from wells. There is great likelihood that the 50,000 gallons per day the mine will require will lower the water table and will pollute the water. In addition, contaminated run off will flow into the Middle Fork of the Feather River, which is a federally designated Wild and Scenic River. Only 1% of the states waterways receive this designation, which is determined by their “free-flowing” nature, and that they “are unpolluted.” These rivers “possess extraordinary scenic, recreational, fishery, or wildlife values [and] shall be preserved in their free-flowing state, together with their immediate environments, for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the state.” This mining project is likely to pollute the river through mine runoff and the leakage of hydrocarbons into the groundwater from mining.
Studies of similar mining projects have shown marked health problems in residents as well as significant property devaluation [cf. Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League study]. In fact, local realtor Juli Thompson gave three recent examples of buyers who changed their minds when they heard of the nearby Hat Creek project. Property devaluation will have a direct effect on our hospital and our ability to offer the services our community needs. Special districts like ours are funded, in part, by property tax money. A significant decrease in property taxes could threaten the viability of our hospital.
The dangers to our hospital’s financial viability, the likely increase in complex health issues in our patients, the stress and anxiety caused by 24/7 noise and traffic congestion from the mine, and the risks to our groundwater and rivers all are essential reasons you, our Board of Supervisors, should oppose this project. Finally, at EPHC, we practice empathy. Ask yourselves this: if this mining project was next door to your home or your child’s or grandchild’s school, or near where your mother and father were living in a skilled nursing facility, would you support this mine? If your answer is no, please join us in opposing the Hat Creek mining project.
Gail McGrath, Chairperson
Eastern Plumas Health Care’s Board of Directors