Southdown Concrete Products Inc. was ordered last week to pay $15,000 after Ventura County filed a judgment and injunction against the company for polluting the Santa Paula Creek.

By Patti Shea, Signal Staff Writer (Santa Clarita, California)

Background:

Ventura County District Attorney Michael D. Bradbury alleged Southdown violated California Department of Fish and Game Code when it discharged a mixture of concrete and water into the Santa Paula Creek in September 1998. The code forbids the dumping of lime— the concrete-water mixture— into state waters.

Deputy District Attorney Laurel McLaughlin said Fish and Game investigated the matter and claimed 20,000 gallons of lime were dumped into the stream.

“There was no identifiable environmental damage,” McLaughlin said. “But you don’t see the affects at the time.”

She said the calculating the amount dumped was hard to determine and Southdown disputed the Fish and Game’s claim, but paid the fine without admitting any wrong doing.

The $15,000 will go to the Ventura County Fish and Wildlife Propagation Fund and the California Department of Fish and Game’s Preservation Fund.

Southdown General Counsel Leslie White was on vacation and could not be reached to confirm McLaughlin’s claims. Brian Mastin, spokesman for the concrete company, said he was not familiar with the case and could not verify any action taken.

Locally, the Transit Mixed Concrete Co., sister company to Southdown and owned by Cemex Inc., has proposed to mine 78 million tons of material to yield 56.1 million tons of sand and gravel in Soledad Canyon over 20 years.

The city of Santa Clarita and other stakeholders have contended a project of that size and scope would be detrimental to the ecosystem of the Santa Clarita Valley, including the Santa Clara River— a key source of groundwater to the community.

On April 24, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to deny the project as proposed and directed county planning staff to explore mitigation measures proposed by the city and the Acton and Aqua Dulce Town Councils. The supervisors gave the planning staff 60 days to explore and analyze the mitigation measures and are expected to vote on a project on June 26.

Rick Putnam, Santa Clarita deputy city manager, said he had no personal knowledge of Southdown’s infraction in Ventura, but that it did not come as a surprise to him.

“This is exactly the kind of lack of environmental oversight and concerns we have uncovered in regard to Southdown’s operations,” Putnam said. “Unfortunately, the degradation on the environment does not come to light until years after the project has been approved.”

Putnam said during negotiations with Transit Mixed, the city’s key concern was insuring a strongly-regulated project.

“At the very least, we have to protect the environment with the tools we have available to us today,” he said.

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Last modified Saturday, April 08, 2000 at 03:41:47 AM.

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