Editor, the VOICE:
We would like to take the opportunity to respond to a recent letter that made unsubstantiated allegations about the proposed relocation of Lakeside Industries’ Covington asphalt plant to the industrial zoned property on SR 169, between Renton and Maple Valley. We recognize there are strong feelings about our proposal, both for and against, and we want to promote an accurate and respectful discussion.
It was stated in a recent letter to the editor that the hillside to the south of the site has been the site of prior landslides. That is an inaccurate statement. As part of Lakeside’s application, a detailed professional critical areas assessment was prepared by Associated Earth Sciences (AESI). That assessment, dated Oct. 2, 2018 and submitted to King County, included detailed onsite examinations and review of historical data, maps and reports. There is no evidence of any deep landslide activity south of the site that could affect the plant, but there is historical data of landslide activity east of the site where no part of the plant will be located. What the author of the letter may have seen was evidence of this prior landslide activity east of the site.
The letter also suggested that historic mining activity in the hillside south of the site could endanger the area. AESI also addressed this issue, locating two historic mine entrances and tunnels, and concluded they would have no effect on the plant.
Numerous analyses and experts have concluded that the facility will not adversely affect the water quality in the Cedar River. Indeed, all the analyses conclude that the proposed project would dramatically improve the quality of runoff from the site. The critical areas around the site, including several streams and wetlands, have been seriously degraded over the last hundred years with the previous activity on the site. The Lakeside plan is to protect all these critical areas and surround them with restored buffers that would create valuable habitat and enhance water quality. In addition, Lakeside has proposed an engineered, multisystem, state-of-the-art stormwater treatment and infiltration system that would treat and infiltrate 100 percent of the untreated stormwater now running off the site.
Asphalt is used to line many fish hatcheries and drinking water reservoirs. Curt Smitch, the former Director of the State Department of Fish and Wildlife, who created the Governor’s Salmon Recovery Office, has praised Lakeside’s plan to improve the water quality of the Cedar River and its salmon habitat.
Like some other opponents of the project, it was stated in the letter that the plant could adversely affect the wells of King County Water District (KCWD) #90. The KCWD #90 wellfields are located half a mile from the site to the northwest and on the opposite side of the Cedar River. The aquifer serving the district wells is a different, deeper aquifer than the shallow aquifer below the site. The district’s own experts concluded the plant would not adversely affect the district wells.
The letter also made allegations about traffic impacts on SR 169. Traffic impacts were studied in detail in an updated Transportation Impact Analysis by Transportation Engineering Northwest (TENW), dated Nov. 2, 2018, and submitted to King County. SR 169 is a major state highway. Heavy truck traffic from the historic Pacific Coast Mining Company, the King County transportation shops, and Sunset Materials, all located on the site, have been using the highway for a very long time. Lakeside proposes to improve the highway by adding a deceleration and acceleration lane adjacent to the site. The TENW analysis concluded that at the peak, the worst-case effect would increase the average delay at the two closest intersections by two seconds and one second, respectively. Moreover, during periods of the year the facility will operate at less than full capacity, and on some days, it will not operate at all, resulting in limited truck trips.
The letter claimed that the plant will produce toxins and carcinogens. It will operate under an air quality permit from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and all emissions will be well below the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Washington state standards. The vast major of the emissions will be steam from drying the rock used to make the asphalt.
Finally, it was stated that the plant will be located on a site where industrial use is prohibited by the King County Comprehensive Plan. That claim has been refuted in a detailed analysis by King County. Opponents of the plant misread the Comprehensive Plan. The site is zoned industrial and an asphalt plant is an expressly permitted use.
Lakeside continues to review all comments about the proposal, and all issues are being carefully studied by King County. Lakeside understands that not everyone in the area will support the proposal, but we want to ensure discussion surrounding our project is based on fact and not on false claims. As a company, we are dedicated to environmental stewardship and to the communities in which we serve – this project is no different. Lakeside Industries looks forward to the opportunity to be a good neighbor to those nearby, just as we have always done in our other locations around the northwest.
Mike Lee, President
Lakeside Industries, Issaquah, WA