November 2011 State and Province News
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The Columbus Council unanimously approved Vulcan Materials’ request to construct an elevated, enclosed conveyor to transport material from its quarry on the east side of the road to its existing processing plant on the west side of the road. According to the Ledger-Enquirer, two 12.5-foot-wide steel enclosure tubes will be erected and set in place 28 feet off the ground near the quarry’s entrance. Vulcan spokesperson Jimmy Flemming told the newspaper that the company believes the conveyors represent a safer alternative to shuttling material back and forth via truck. The agreement is for 50 years, but the city and Vulcan are able to revisit the issue every five years, as needed.
When is dirt dirty? That’s the debate between aggregate and landfill operators as the Illinois Pollution Control Board holds hearings about rules proposed by the state Environmental Protection Agency to define whether dirt and debris from construction and demolition sites is clean enough to be deposited in quarries. The Chicago News Cooperative says the proposed rule would require dirt headed for quarries to be tested for specific contaminants and could not be dumped if it exceeds safety limits. Quarries would also have to monitor groundwater once a year and report any problems to the state within 60 days. An attorney for the landfill group says its problem is with groundwater monitoring and protection. He scoffs at the notion that the group’s concerns are driven solely by lost business. A spokesperson for a quarry owner group says that the proposed screening requirements are redundant and notes that new rules would increase costs to deposit waste, a common activity among many city agencies.
Scotts Bluff County has asked a court to stop Western Engineering from mining sand and gravel near the North Platte River. The Republic reports that the complaint claims that a county road has been damaged. Further, the county says mining is a permit violation because a conditional-use permit for the mine expired in 1993 and mining on the site is not authorized. The company did not respond to the newspaper’s request for a comment.
Vulcan Materials Co. recently renewed its support for the land and water conservation work of Foothills Conservancy. Mountain Xpress reports that Bryan Spach, area sales manager for Vulcan’s Mideast Division, presented a $2,500 award to Susie Hamrick Jones, executive director of the Foothills Conservancy, a regional land trust that preserves natural areas and open spaces of the Blue Ridge Foothills region including watersheds, significant wildlife habitats, forests, and farm lands. “Vulcan Materials has been one of our corporate partners for the last 10 years,” Jones told the newspaper. “We applaud their company-wide focus on environmental stewardship and education and appreciate their support of our land and water conservation programs.”
A hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Ralph Haefner, raised concerns that a limestone mine pumping 40 million gallons of water a day from one Columbus quarry to another (located in a city well field) could affect the city’s drinking water. According to The Columbus Dispatch, staff members of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said the water quality will continue to meet state and federal standards and that “a great deal of careful planning and review has gone into evaluating and permitting this process.” Ken Holland, president of Olen Corp., told the newspaper that the quarry was expected to be dewatered by the end of October and that a greatly reduced pumping level would be used after that to keep it dry and allow further limestone mining.