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Release Date: 10/4/2000
Contact Information: Leo Kay, U.S.EPA, (415)744-2201, Jerry Martin, ARB, (916)322-2990

     Agencies respond to citizen concerns over asbestos emissions

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board jointly served complaints on Sierra Rock, the owner of the Weber Creek Quarry outside of Placerville, Calif., yesterday for numerous violations, including failure to control dust emissions over the past three years.  
     Today's announcement follows up on the initial notices of violation that the EPA and ARB had issued against the quarry in late April. The quarry owner has not been providing the EPA and ARB with the information the two agencies have been requesting.  The EPA and ARB filed the complaints in federal district court in Sacramento.

     As a result of Weber Creek's lack of controls, six homes within 1/3 of a mile of the site   including one used as a day care center   have been exposed to harmful dust emissions.  The complaints allege violation of the quarry's dust control permits that were issued to the facility by the El Dorado County Air Pollution Control District. The quarry could face fines up to $27,500 per day per violation, with potential liability running in the millions.

     "For more than a year the ARB monitored emissions around the quarry and found high levels of asbestos.  Public health is the major concern prompting this action.  It is important to ensure that those living near the Weber Creek Quarry are protected from these violations," said Michael Kenny, ARB executive officer.

     "We are confident that this enforcement action will redress long-standing dust emission problems at Weber Creek Quarry," said Amy Zimpfer, acting director of the EPA's Air Division in San Francisco.  "We believe that this action will not only ensure ensure current compliance, but will translate into a safer environment for workers and surrounding residents for years to come."
     At the quarry, the Sierra Rock company removes, crushes and screens serpentine bedrock to produce a variety of products, including roadbed material and decorative rock.  Serpentine bedrock contains varying amounts of asbestos, a known human carcinogen.   Health-related effects typically associated with exposure to dust emissions include increased respiratory symptoms, hospital admissions from respiratory causes and premature death.

     The complaints allege that Sierra Rock had in the past failed   and may currently fail   to comply with the following requirements related to controlling dust emissions, including, but not
limited to:

          Install and operate water sprays on equipment to mitigate emissions

          Water down unpaved roads

          Prevent visible dust emissions from crossing the property line

          Keep relevant records and checklists

     In addition, the EPA's complaint alleges that Sierra Rock failed to provide information requested by the EPA as part of its investigation of the quarry.

     The EPA became involved in the quarry issue after receiving numerous citizen complaints, and also receiving a request from ARB officials to initiate a joint response.  The EPA and ARB are continuing to offer to negotiate a settlement with quarry owner Loring Brunius.