Monday, October 15, 2007

Double the Trouble? West Fresno meat rendering plant to expand

Darling Intl. is seeking to expand the capacity of their West Fresno rendering plant (795 W. Belgravia, Fresno, CA 93706) from 855,000 lbs to 1,500,00 lbs per day. It has been a long time standing odor nuisance in southwest Fresno for over 50 years. It is in close proximity to several schools, public housing complexes, and single-family homes.

The SJV Air Quality Control District allowed Darling to install the equipment in 2006 but they weren't given permits to increase capacity as they are requesting now after public outcry. Since those permits were given, the HUD and City-funded HOPE VI housing development sponsored by the Fresno Housing Authority is slated to invest nearly $60M of housing surrounding the plant including the newly constructed LEED-certified preschool & community center. In addition, there are hundreds of new privately-funded housing units planned within 1 mi. radius of the plant.

We were initially told that the City has no legal jurisdiction in the matter though Sterling and the District 3 Implementation Cmte will submit opposition letters. In addition, the Control District may put the item on their board's consent calendar (no public comment unless posed by one of the board members) unless they receive significant comments (I don't know that's defined). Fresno City Council President Henry Perea Jr. is now on that Board along with Supervisor Judy Case. There is one other minority on the board from Arvin-- a local councilmember.

In August 2007, the Air Board approved their new Environmental Justice Strategy. Ray Leon (Latino Issues Forum/Asthma-Air Advocate) , Kevin Hamilton (Sequoia Healthcare/Asthma-Air Advocate), Metro Ministries, the Poverty Center among others were participants in writing it. The Board is in the process of selecting members to sit on a EJ Committee to advise the Governing board.

The Concerned Citizens of West Fresno that includes advocates such as Mrs. Mary Curry (former FUSD school board member) and Harlan Kelly (former vice-chair of Edison Planning Advisory Cmte and an origin FWCED board member) requested an 30-day extension of the public comment period from the Air Board, which was granted. That new deadline for public comment will end November 5th.

Councilmember Sterling office is coordinating a community meeting that is scheduled to take place before the November 5th deadline.

Public Notice (Sept 5, 2007)

SJVAQCD Environmental Justice Policy

Fresno Bee Article (10/03/07)

Sign a Petition

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