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International Ocean Film Festival Hails Closing of CEMEX USA Cement Plant:
“A Win Win for the Environment and Sensible Business”
Last Coastal Sand Mine in the United States Closes After Documentary Film Shown at Festival Chronicled Environmental Damage from Cement Production
26 July 2017 – San Francisco, CA: Call it a green-friendly business decision set in stone – actually, in concrete. After viewing a film sponsored by San Francisco’s International Ocean Film Festival (www.oceanfilmfest.org), the last sand mining company in the United States has decided to close, a direct impact of the film – Sand Wars directed by Denis Delestrac – and the Festival’s environmental impact and advocacy. On July 13, the California Coastal Commission approved an agreement whereby CEMEX USA’s Lapis facility on Monterey Bay will cease dredging operations that undermine beaches and cause irreversible erosion.
“This is a win win for the environment and for sensible business,” said Ana Blanco, Executive Director for the International Ocean Film Festival whose screening of the film Sand Wars in November 2015 in Monterey, California was the catalyst for CEMEX USA shuttering its business in Monterey. “Film has the power to illuminate, educate and in this instance, truly generate positive change. We want to publicly thank CEMEX and its leadership for this decision. This is truly a case of highlighting our mission to save our oceans, one film at a time.”
Details of the agreement will allow for a gradual shutdown of all operations by CEMEX, who said in an official statement that although they believed that had never broken any laws or consciously caused environmental damage, they “wanted to be a good neighbor.” With its headquarters in Mexico, the CEMEX plant on Monterey Bay will be allowed to process already-dredged sand for another three years before a complete shutdown. Operating since 1906, CEMEX has been extracting roughly 270,000 cubic yards of sand per year: “That’s the equivalent of a large dump-truck load every half hour, 24 hours a day — enough to cause severe erosion along the southern Monterey Bay coastline, according to geologists and oceanographers who have studied the impacts.” (San Francisco Chronicle, July 13, 2017). Such sea bottom sand has been used for over a century as a primary ingredient in high quality concrete mixtures. For decades, ocean advocates and scientists have been pointing to the environmental damage done by the practice, especially in a time whcn technology provides other reasonable options.
“You can draw a direct line between our showing of Sand Wars and this result,” reiterated Blanco, noting the Festival’s partnership with the Surfrider Foundation Monterey Chapter and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. “This is the real reason for the existence of the International Ocean Film Festival: education and real progress.”
Since its launch in 2004, the San Francisco-based International Ocean Film Festival has attracted thousands of spectators of all ages from around the world, including film enthusiasts, sea athletes, educators, and environmental supporters. Since then, the Festival has presented over 50 films from 15 different countries and featured post-film Q&A sessions with visiting filmmakers, special panel discussions with content experts, and the Annual Free Student Education Program. It was the first event of its kind in North America, inspired by the well-established ocean festival in Toulon, France, which has continued to draw large audiences for more than 40 years. The 15th Annual International Ocean Film Festival will take place March 8 – 12, 2018 at venues around San Francisco. The International Ocean Film Festival is a registered 501(c) 3 non-profit.