Vulcan Materials and Lilburn Corporation have produced wonderfull simulations of what their revegetation should look like. Unfortunately, the performance requirements listed in the reclamation plan do not match any of those simulations. The Azusa City Council was generally horrified that Vulcan was willing to only accomplish a 40% revegetation density. However, what they didn’t realize is that the 40% is based upon reference sites within the quarry that have undergone “successful revegetation.”
“However, VMC proposes to use these existing successful revegetation areas as reference sites against which to judge successful final revegetation for future reclaimed areas. This will be done by collecting data on vegetative cover, density, and species richness prior to the removal of vegetation on the sites during micro-benching. CCR§3705(a) allows for this use of onsite reference data where, as is the case at this site, the topography and topsoil quality of the reclaimed site will significantly differ from that found in surrounding natural vegetation cover.” (Source)
We aren’t sure that any parts of the quarry have been successfully revegetated. However, the only slope in the quarry that has been revegetated at all is the “Mayan Steps.” Since the Azusa Planning Commission has certified the revegetation of the Mayan steps as being adequate, it has deemed it “successful.” However, a comparison between the “successful revegetation” and the natural slopes of Van Tassel Ridge shows that the baseline standard that Vulcan proposes to use is basically barren rock:
|Revegetation performance is based upon this…
|instead of being based upon the natural landscape
Obviously, using the Mayan Steps as reference vegetation cover will result in a performance standard that is unacceptable, especially, since the percentage of coverage required under the plan is only 40% of what is on the Mayan Steps. We will accept nothing less than a performance requirement based upon the natural slopes of Fish Canyon. Here is our revised version of page 110, paragraph 3:
“However, VMC proposes to use these existing west and east facing slopes on Van Tassel as reference sites against which to judge successful final revegetation for future reclaimed areas. This will be done by randomly selecting plots from undisturbed west and east facing slopes on Van Tassel and collecting data on vegetative cover, density, and species richness, and comparing this data to randomly selected plots for each reclamation phase.”
However bad the performance standards for revegetation are, the development agreement allows Vulcan to completely escape micro-benching altogether.
Section 2.5 Reclamation. Mining operations on the Site shall cease and the Site shall be reclaimed and filled by Vulcan in accordance with the terms and conditions of the Revised CUP and Reclamation Plan and this Agreement.
(a) Reclamation Obligation. In the event the reclamation obligations set forth in the Revised CUP and Reclamation Plan cannot be satisfied Vulcan and City shall follow the procedures set forth herein:
(1) Vulcan shall notify City in writing of any scientific, technical and geotechnical factors or events preventing the fulfillment of the reclamation obligations described above. Vulcan shall submit this notification to City within fifteen (15) days of Vulcan’s determination that the reclamation obligations described above cannot be satisfied.
(2) Upon City’s request, Vulcan shall submit documentation to City supporting such factor or event, the form, substance and detail of which shall be subject to City’s reasonable request and determination.
(3) City shall review Vulcan’s submitted documentation and, within forty-five (45) days of receipt, shall determine, in its reasonable discretion, whether to grant a reasonable period of time to Vulcan to cure and commence the reclamation obligations by submitting an application to both the City and the State for an amended reclamation proposal or deem Vulcan to be in violation of the Planning Documents and City shall be entitled to recover its actual damages resulting therefrom.
(b) Alternative Reclamation. In the event the reclamation obligations in connection with the Revised CUP and Reclamation Plan cannot be satisfied per 2.5(a) above and City demands liquidated damages in accordance with 2.5(a)(3) above, then:
(1) Vulcan shall, if required by State law, cease its mining activities until a new reclamation plan (“New Reclamation Plan”) is approved by the City and the State.
(2) The parties acknowledge that the financial assurances bond for the New Reclamation Plan posted by Vulcan with City and the Department of Conservation (the “New Reclamation Bond”) may differ in amount from the financial assurances bond posted in connection with the Revised CUP and Reclamation Plan (the “Old Reclamation Bond”) due to decreased costs of implementing the New Reclamation Plan as compared to micro-benching. If the New Reclamation Bond amount is lower than the Old Reclamation Bond amount as measured at the time the parties determine the reclamation obligations cannot be satisfied, Vulcan shall pay City, within 30 days of obtaining the New Reclamation Bond, an amount equal to two (2) times the difference between the most recent bond premium paid by Vulcan for the Old Reclamation Bond minus the bond premium initially paid by Vulcan to obtain the New Reclamation Bond)
So, Vulcan has put a clause into the Development Agreement that for any reason they cannot do micro-benching, they get to go back to the original reclamation plan and get their $81 million bond back, to boot!
If the Azusa City Council approves the reclamation plan as currently written, we will be stuck with revegetation that is worse than what Vulcan has done on the Mayan Steps. If this happens, Save Our Canyon will circulate a petition for a referendum and expose the insidious nature of Vulcan’s revised reclamation plan.