The asphalt operation at Grist Creek Aggregates, Willits, CA, (pictured) has begun producing material to supply the repaving of Highway 101 to the north of the plant.
The operations have not yet received a final permit to operate, according to the California Air Resources Board. Neighboring residents remain concerned about environmental and health impacts in the valley, and continue to file nuisance complaints concerning emissions, noise, dust, and odors with local and state agencies since the plant began operations at the end of September.
Since the plant began producing rubberized asphalt for a contract with Caltrans, inspectors from the Mendocino County Air Quality District have made multiple visits to the plant, although the results have not been made public.
Inspectors from the state Air Resources Board conducted a separate investigation visiting both the plant and several of the impacted neighbors. According to Air Resources Board Public Information Officer Dave Clegern, the results of that field inspection are also expected to take several weeks to complete.
A third party point source test aimed at determining if emissions met or exceeded state limits was scheduled to begin on Oct. 20. This test is one of the requirements for the plant to transition from an “authority to construct” permit, which allows some improvements to be made to meet regulations, and the operation permit that will cover the plants’ full commercial production.
Grist Creek Aggregates is responsible for scheduling the test, but inspectors and the director of the Mendocino County Air Quality Management District Bob Scaglione are expected to be present to oversee testing protocols and procedures.
Scaglione told the Willits News that due to the “exposure” experienced by neighboring parcels, the district would require a “higher standard than normal” for the third party source testing before approving the plant for a full operating permit.
He said the test, conducted by Aeros Environmental, would take several days to complete, and results could take up to a month, after which the final report will be a public document.
County inspectors have also toured neighboring parcels without private gates, and some discussion has occurred about placing a county mobile testing unit to measure impacts on nearby parcels or roads to verify neighboring complaints.
Neither of the county’s air quality inspectors are currently certified to conduct visual opacity inspections required to evaluate the plant’s compliance with county and state emission standards.