Going the Extra Mile
by Kerry Clines, Senior Editor
Every year during the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association’s (NSSGA) annual convention, the association presents awards to aggregate operations that have gone the extra mile, whether improving relations with the surrounding community or reducing the size of the footprint left on the environment. In addition to these awards, the NSSGA presents operations that have won awards in two or more categories within a five-year period with a National Stars of Excellence award. The number of stars signifies the number of awards the operation received during the five-year period.
This year, Vulcan’s Huntsville Quarry became a two-star recipient. The quarry received the National Stars of Excellence award for having received the 2010 Environmental Excellence Gold Award, in addition to the 2008 Excellence in Community Relations Gold Award. This, in itself, is quite an accomplishment, but the awards didn’t stop there.
Being a good neighbor
Huntsville Quarry was opened by Madison Limestone Co. in the early 1950s and was bought by Vulcan Materials Co. in 1973. The stone processed at the quarry is a high-quality limestone and is primarily used in roadbuilding for asphalt, concrete, and base materials, as well as in residential and commercial construction.
The quarry is located within Huntsville city limits. Eli Christopher, area operations manager – North Alabama, Vulcan Materials Co., says, “We continue to be mindful of the appearance of our facilities and of the way we impact our community. There are some things that we won’t sacrifice, even in this down economy. Our position with the city has improved greatly in the last 15 years.”
Maintaining and improving the appearance of the entrance has helped the quarry continue its favorable relationship with the city. In fact, the quarry has been recognized by the city for its beautification and environmental improvement efforts. “For the last eight years in a row, the city of Huntsville’s Beautification Board has awarded our efforts with their annual beautification award,” Christopher says. “And, after having won this award for five consecutive years, they’ve now placed us on their ‘Honor Roll.’ We’ve also been awarded air pollution control achievement awards from the city for the last three years for various improvements we’ve made in our plant.”
Thinking of the environment
Huntsville Quarry participates in an air pollution control improvement program offered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the city of Huntsville. The DNR enforces the same air pollution control regulations as the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
“They (DNR) visit and inspect our plant, annually,” Christopher says, “conducting dust emission readings along with visual inspections of our storm water treatment facilities.”
Four years ago, the director of DNR informed Christopher that the department had a program that could help tout the quarry’s air-pollution-control improvement efforts to the public. The program would explain what the quarry was doing now and what it could do in the future to control any air pollutants that might be produced at the facility.
“We submitted our ideas to the Department of Natural Resources and said, ‘here’s what we’re doing,’” Christopher says. “We use an organic surfactant in our water truck for controlling the dust from truck traffic on our site. Instead of the typical water-only treatment, which can rapidly evaporate, the surfactant adheres to the ground so you don’t have to make as many trips in the water truck. We control the dust on the roads and reduce the number of hours on the water truck, so there’s less dust and less diesel exhaust.”
After seeing the results of the surfactant’s use on the quarry’s roads, a system was installed in the finishing plant area that adds an organic surfactant foaming agent to the water used in the plant’s dust suppression system to control dust emissions from the various plant processes. This system utilizes compressed air, water, and the surfactant to create a foam that adheres to the limestone and virtually eliminates dust emissions. Unlike water-only systems, the effects of the foam continue into the process, into the stockpiles, and help control dust generated by wind.
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