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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / OXNARD

Judge Lets Ruling on Gravel Mine Stand

July 29, 1998|NICK GREEN

A company's plan to mine gravel on the Oxnard Plain remained in limbo Tuesday after a judge declined to overturn her ruling in May that halted the project.

Superior Court Judge Barbara Lane declined to order a new trial for Los Angeles-based CalMat, which had contended she was incorrect when she ruled that county officials had failed to consider the environmental effects of the proposed El Rio mine.

In May, environmentalists and representatives of Oxnard argued that CalMat's proposed 6-million-ton excavation could endanger drinking water supplies. Lane ordered a reevaluation of the project's environmental effects.

After an hour of oral arguments Tuesday, Lane did remove a sweeping injunction that had prevented CalMat from taking any action to further the project, said John Buse, an attorney from the Ventura office of the Environmental Defense Center.

Exactly what that means is unclear, because CalMat is prohibited from proceeding with construction of the mine.

"I don't think it should make much practical difference, but CalMat may feel otherwise," Buse said. "I think what it means is we have to watch [the project]."

CalMat officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Buse said it is unclear whether CalMat will appeal Lane's ruling to a higher court or reexamine the project's environmental effects.

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