State and Province News January 2104
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Baxter County Judge Mickey Pendergrass said the county could save $95,000 a year in lease-purchase payments if it can find a buyer for five pieces of idle processing equipment. The BaxterBulletin reports that two crushers, a screen, a diesel power plant, and an electrical generator are being offered for sale as the county has proposed cutting $400,000 from the roads department budget. Declining revenues were blamed for the cuts. Since the new equipment was first used in June 2012, it has produced only 20,000 tons of road base material, rather than the estimated 100,000 tons.
Police and arson investigators described a series of fires reported near the Vulcan Materials Co. operation on Fish Canyon Road in Azusa to be “very suspicious.” According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, a series of three fires were spotted in a matter of minutes. “They’re suspected to be deliberately set,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Captain Gerald Gonzales told the newspaper. The fires began at what looked like measured intervals. Investigators stopped short of labeling it arson, but determined the fire to be “human caused.”
While Santa Clarita representatives and federal legislators testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee in support of a bill that would prevent development of a Cemex sand and gravel mine in Soledad Canyon, federal officials say they don’t support the legislation which would cost the federal government millions of dollars in royalties. The Santa Clarita Valley Signal reports that the Bureau of Land Management opposes the bill because it uses public resources to buy out valid contracts and could set a precedent of the sale of public lands to compensate a private entity. Another roadblock is the bill’s overall cost to the federal government. Cemex spokesman Sara Engdahl told the newspaper the estimated value of the company’s contract is $28 million. City officials have said that, if the sale of the land near Victorville is insufficient to cover the cost of the contract, it is willing to “pitch in” to make up the difference and reduce or eliminate the federal financial impact of the bill.
In November, two workers were injured when a diesel tank exploded at a Loveland sand and gravel company. According to ABC7 News, workers at Jake Kauffman & Son Inc. were either cutting or welding a large diesel fuel tank that contained residual fuel when it exploded. One worker was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, while the other worker drove himself there. Workers at the site put out a fire ignited by the explosion.
An earthquake, not a quarry blast, was responsible for tremors felt in Chicago suburbs on Nov. 4. The Barrington Patch reports a 3.2-magnitude earthquake occurred within seconds of a blast at Hanson Material Service’s McCook quarry. A quarry blast was initially reported as the cause of the blast, but after consultation with experts, quarry operators, and technical consultants, the USGS National Earthquake Information Center determined the quarry blast was “too small to account for the signals recorded by the regional seismographic network.” The Illinois Department of Natural Resources also conducted an inspection following the event and reported that the operator’s blasts were within statutory limit.
The Buffalo County Board of Zoning Supervisors unanimously approved the first quarry permit sought since the county passed new mining regulations in early 2013. Winona Daily News reports that Hildegard Bragger Trust and Gerke Excavating LLC requested a permit for a limestone operation that is expected to last 20 years. Annual production of approximately 300,000 tons is anticipated, with an average of about 50 truckloads per day to be moved from the site. The state Department of Natural Resources has approved its reclamation plan to restore the property to pastures and woodlands.
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources announced that its Division of Water Resources has issued Martin Marietta Materials Inc. a water withdrawal permit for its proposed Vanceboro quarry, clearing the way for Martin Marietta to begin construction of the operation. The Beaufort Observer reports that a lawsuit has been filed seeking to derail the permit, but noted “experts with whom we have talked give the lawsuit very little chance of stopping the quarry.”
A rehabilitation plan viewed as key to a settlement in the five-year legal dispute between Millington Quarry Inc. and Bernards Township has been the source of numerous closed-door reviews by the township committee. According to The Bernardsville News, settlement talks with Superior Court Judge Thomas Miller were scheduled for mid-December 2013, but as of mid-November, the committee continued its discussions on the subject. Once the township finalizes a plan, the operator can accept it, reject it, or offer its own plan. The dispute dates back to 2005 when, as part of its reclamation plan, the township ordered MQI to pad the site with topsoil. Some of the topsoil was found to have been contaminated, and the township ordered a stop to soil imports. MQI, which had received payment for accepting the soil, sued the township. At the township’s request, the operator agreed to have the state Department of Environmental Protection oversee remediation. That plan called for containment of the tainted soil under a 45-acre portion of the site, with half covered by a lake. The township’s environmental commission objected to the filling of the lake.
Backlash from nearby residents caused York Building Products Co. to drop its plan to expand quarrying operations within the city limits and, instead, propose rezoning that would allow it to use the property for storage. According to the York Daily Record, the company will store overburden on the acreage. It currently operates a 216-acre site in West Manchester Township and blasts in a 42-acre tract within city boundaries. A homeowner who helped circulate petitions regarding the operation declined to comment on behalf of the homeowners.
Vulcan Material Co.’s plans to open a 300-acre granite quarry outside Batesburg are drawing comments from community residents, including Mayor Rita Crapps, who has spoken publicly against the proposed operation. Jimmy Fleming, Vulcan’s vice president of human resources for the East Region, told ColaDaily.com that the quarry is expected to open by 2016 and will eventually replace its Columbia plant. He also said the new operation would be built with residents in mind and would feature noise-dampening equipment. It would also be designed to mitigate sound impact. The operation is expected to initially create a dozen jobs, with the potential for that figure to grow to 30 or 40 over the next decade.
At Aggregates Manager’s press time, a number of construction material producers were to be featured in Cumberland’s Christmas Truck Parade in Comox Valley, British Columbia. Cumberland Sand and Gravel’s Trudy Logan coordinates the event. “If you just outline your piece of equipment, it looks stunning in the dark,” she told The Times Colonist. Keith Tatton, of Redi Mix Sand and Gravel, has participated in the event for about eight years. During the 2012 event, his truck had 15,000 lights on it.