JohnGlidden.com staff report | March 22, 2021
VALLEJO – The nonprofit Fresh Air Vallejo has received a coveted environmental award for organizing against the Vallejo Marine Terminal, Orcerm cement project that was proposed for South Vallejo, the group announced Monday.
Fresh Air Vallejo received the San Francisco Baykeeper 2021 Blue Rivet Award for making a significant contribution toward the health of the San Francisco Bay.
“Fresh Air Vallejo is very pleased to accept this award on behalf of a wide-ranging coalition that came together to defeat a toxic cement plant on our waterfront,” said Liat Meitzenheimer, president of Fresh Air Vallejo, in a statement released by the nonprofit. “Though some of us have worked for the environment and Environmental Justice over many years, this is the first time Vallejo has been publicly recognized in the Bay Area for this work.”
According to the same press release, the Blue Rivet Award represents efforts by businesses and community members who join together on behalf of a healthy San Francisco Bay—just like the rivets of the Golden Gate Bridge, which join the structure together and hold it up.
Past award recipients include community activists from No Coal in Oakland and former California Assembly Member and Senator Loni Hancock, the same release states.
“The volunteer activism by residents through Fresh Air Vallejo is just the kind of on-the-ground partnership that we at Baykeeper value,” said Sejal Choksi-Chugh, executive director of San Francisco Baykeeper, in the same release. “Baykeeper is proud to have partnered with Fresh Air Vallejo to put a stop to the VMT facility, including stopping the possible shipment of toxic coal from the site. This was a major victory for residents of Vallejo and for San Francisco Bay!”
The project was pulled from consideration in May 2019 by the then-new owners of the Vallejo Marine Terminal.
VMT looked to build a deep-water terminal, with Orcem constructing a cement facility on the same 31 acres of land at 790 and 800 Derr St. along the Mare Island Strait in South Vallejo.
In March 2017, the city’s planning commission rejected the project, citing “quality of life” concerns with the project. City officials opposed the project, stating it would pose a negative effect on the waterfront neighborhood, including impacting traffic in the area.
VMT and Orcem appealed the decision which was still pending when VMT halted the process.
“The proposed cement factory, and an adjacent deepwater marine terminal, would have brought tons of toxic material to South Vallejo to be ground into cement,” Fresh Air Vallejo said in the same press release. “Pollution, noise, traffic — and the injustice of placing the facility in a neighborhood already suffering from exceptionally high rates of asthma and cancer — were the cornerstones of Vallejo citizens’ opposition.”