The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District has filed a lawsuit against Santa Clara County, challenging the reclamation plan for Lehigh Southwest Cement's Permanente Quarry near Cupertino, saying its environmental report was flawed.
"Our deep concerns for the quarry's air and water quality impacts, hazardous materials and related recreational impacts remain unaddressed," district board president Curt Riffle said. "These issues affect us, our visitors and the employees who work and live on our preserve. We have therefore directed staff to seek the assistance of the courts."
In the complaint filed Nov. 29, the open space district states that the environmental impact report failed to analyze and mitigate the project's impacts on air quality, hazardous materials, recreation, groundwater and endangered species.
The cement and rock quarry in unincorporated Santa Clara County near Cupertino had been working on a reclamation plan with the county's planning office off and on for roughly five years, before the plan was unanimously approved in late June, along with certification of the EIR.
The approved plan amends the current 1985 reclamation plan for surface mining area at the plant and quarry. The area in question covers 1,238 acres of the company's 3,510 acres.
Over a 20-year period, Lehigh Cement will reclaim land while also mining for limestone. Crushed rock from other mined areas will help fill in the facility's massive quarry pit.
The quarry and cement plant are adjacent to the district's Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve, which sees more than 500,000 visitors annually, according to district officials.
"A lawsuit is the very last course of action for us. However, since many issues of concern were not adequately addressed through other channels, we feel we must turn to the courts to help us resolve this matter," said Steve Abbors, general manager of the open space district.
The lawsuit states that the final EIR and reclamation plan lack sufficient analysis of air quality, water quality, biological resources, hazardous materials, baseline conditions and visual impacts. The lawsuit also alleges that the report "fails to recognize or evaluate the potential toxic legacy of the site."
The open space district is concerned that a half-century of munitions and metal manufacturing could have contaminated the area, noting the toxic soil from that era could be disturbed and buried by mining waste, before proper analysis of the contamination was completed.