National Marine Sanctuary considers action against Cemex

The Cemex sand mine in Marina, California now faces action from Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary as well as the California Coastal Commission, reports Monterey County Now.

The commission sent a letter to Cemex March 17, informing the company of a pending cease and desist order against its sand mine operation, the commission granted Cemex a one-month extension to respond in its defense. The new deadline is May 6.

Meanwhile, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is taking its own action: At an April 21 meeting of the sanctuary Advisory Council, the council voted unanimously to send a letter to John Armor, acting director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, asking that his office look into legal and jurisdictional questions regarding the mine.

Among them are whether the sand being taken by the mine is a sanctuary resource, and if the operation is violating any sanctuary regulations. The letter also asks whether the sanctuary could create a permitting regulation that would potentially shut the mine down.

US congressional candidate Jimmy Panetta, who sits on the advisory council, told other members at the meeting that he recently visited the sand mine operation and met with its employees.

“My sense is that they’re willing to talk about coming to a compromise,” he says. “I’m sure they’re concerned for their company, and their employees, but I got a sense they’re concerned for the environment as well.”

The Marina operation is the only remaining coastal sand mine in the United States, and has been identified by Ed Thornton – one of the world’s leading coastal engineers – as the primary reason southern Monterey Bay has the highest coastal erosion rate in the state.

How Cemex will respond remains an open question. In an email obtained through a Public Records Act request, the company appears to be exploring all options: On April 8, a Cemex representative filed a PRA request asking for virtually every report or correspondence the commission has made with respect to the sand mine and the property.

Meanwhile, a rumor is swirling that sand from the mine might be headed to Malibu, where a privately funded, $31 million beach replenishment project is soon to begin. The sand for the project was meant to come from an inland quarry, but a dispute over truck routes has the project’s proponents looking for a new source.

Mark Goss, the project’s manager, says he hasn’t specifically heard about getting sand from Marina, but is open to the idea.

“We want to exhaust all the possibilities,” Goss says. If a new source of sand is identified, it will have to be approved by the Coastal Commission.

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