Big hole in the plan

Massive quarry left out of dam-raising environmental review

Raising Shasta Dam has been a matter of debate for more than two decades, with the Bureau of Reclamation touting water supply stability and an improved ecosystem for salmon populations, while the Winnemem Wintu maintain dozens of cultural and religious sites will be lost in the flooding.

Another issue entirely is providing the materials to complete the $1 billion project. Aggregate used to construct the original dam was moved from a few miles away via a belt line, but currently the nearest deep-pit quarry large enough to meet the demand of raising the dam by 18.5 feet is in Vallejo, nearly 200 miles away.

Multinational mining conglomerate 3M, based in Minnesota, has proposed a 4,500-acre mining site near the City of Shasta Lake—just one mile from the dam. The Moody Flats Quarry Project would be 800 feet deep and include four processing plants on site. According to the project description released by 3M, the quarry would produce 2 million tons of aggregate material annually for the next 100 years.

For Heidi Silva-Strand of the activist group Citizens for the Protection of North State Wetlands, the location of the proposed quarry is no coincidence. She believes the Bureau of Reclamation plans on using materials from the Moody Flats project to raise the dam but has been less than forthcoming with the public. Though the agency conducted an extensive environmental review of the dam-raising proposal, it did not take the potential effects of a quarry into account.

The quarry “must be included in the bureau’s environmental-impact review,” Silva-Strand said in a CPNSW press release. “To do them piecemeal, as if one does not affect the other, is an abuse of power and a sham on the American people.”

The CPNSW has petitioned at the federal level for the Bureau of Reclamation to reveal how it plans to produce the material to raise the dam. Silva-Strand said “the people have a right to know,” and the Moody Flats project would disrupt thousands of lives around Shasta Lake.

“The quarry will absolutely devastate the City of Shasta Lake,” she said during a phone interview. “If you look at where they want to put this quarry, it’s right in a thousand people’s back yard.”