Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Weather & Environment
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Published on April 16, 2024
Bay Area Air Quality Board Orders Martin Marietta to Obtain Permit or Shut Down San Francisco Sand PlantSource: Google Maps

In a move to clamp down on air pollution and protect local health, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's independent Hearing Board has laid down the law for Martin Marietta, demanding the company to secure a permit for its Bayview Hunters Point sand processing plant. The plant, located at Pier 92 in San Francisco, will also face operational restrictions aimed at reining in emissions, these measures insisting on a swifter compliance to address community air quality concerns.

According to the official announcement, Martin Marietta must now, by October 31, 2025, obtain the necessary permit or to otherwise shut down operations. The imposed restrictions are a stopgap to protect Bayview Hunters Point, a community which has long been disproportionately affected by industrial emissions. "The Air District’s Hearing Board order is the quickest way to bring Martin Marietta’s sand processing facility into compliance and safeguard the health of those living in Bayview Hunters Point," Dr. Philip Fine, executive officer of the Air District, told the press in a statement designed to underscore the urgency.

Previously, the sand processing plant operated sans permit due to an exemption that no longer applies under Martin Marietta's tenure. The company took over from the previous owner, Lehigh Hanson, losing the exemption amidst increasing scrutiny and public outcry. In a bid to change course, Martin Marietta has proposed upgrades and modernizations that promise better environmental controls, a strategy now closely aligned with this latest directive from the Air Board.

But the road doesn’t end here. Martin Marietta also needs to win approval from the Port of San Francisco, which holds jurisdiction over Pier 92, before construction on the new facility can commence. This is all part of a broader environmental review spearheaded by the City and County of San Francisco under the California Environmental Quality Act, expected to rigorously analyze the potential impact of the plant’s operations. The Air District has vowed to keep a close eye on the facility, striving to firmly enforce the Hearing Board’s order and maintain the health standards for the locals.

Community members have often voiced their concerns about the air quality in Bayview Hunters Point, witnessing a history of industrial pollution that has shaped their daily lives. With this latest intervention, they wait to see if promises made will translate to tangible actions taken, and whether the air they breathe will hold a promise of revitalization or a continuation of a troubled legacy.