June 7, 2012
Lacey’s Spring Quarry incorporates environmentally friendly water management practices.
In some areas of the country, water is plentiful. In other areas, it is a hot commodity. In all areas of the country, however, it should be handled respectfully and in a way that will not pollute the surrounding environment. Rogers Group Inc. kept this in mind when it began construction of its Morgan County, Ala.-based Lacey’s Spring Quarry in 2006. The company incorporated several environmentally friendly initiatives during and after construction that have made it possible for the quarry to not only meet, but exceed water-management expectations and requirements.
The first thing Rogers Group did was build a perimeter berm around the property. “The berm goes around the entire permitted mined property, which includes the scalehouse, the processing plant, all of the pit, and stripping area — everywhere we’re doing any operations or moving dirt or moving anything of any size,” says Derek Roberts, area vice president, North Alabama, Rogers Group Inc. “We built it for several reasons. One reason was just to make sure no water left the property that didn’t need to leave the property. We’re also close to the Tennessee River, so in case the river flooded, the berm would protect us from the 100-year-floodwater elevation. Also, we built it as a buffer between us and our neighbors on the outside.”
The berm was seeded and has become part of the landscaping at the quarry, but it serves an important purpose. It fully ensures that any water used within the plant stays within the plant, and that all water is recycled and reused. “Our site is self-sufficient when it comes to water,” Roberts says, “our water doesn’t come from the Tennessee River or other external sources. It is mainly rainwater and stormwater, which collects in the pit. We have a sump, which is at the lowest level in the pit where water collects, that pumps the water up to our processing plant. From there, it goes through a series of settling ponds and then into our freshwater holding pond. We recirculate all of our water there. Very little water is discharged.”
The majority of the water at the quarry is used for the washing process in the processing plant, where it is collected and sent back to be recycled again. Water is also used for dust control in the processing plant and on the roads. A sprinkler system at the entrance/exit to the plant helps to eliminate dust, as does a wheel wash system on site. All customer trucks drive through the wheel wash as they approach the scales. This cleans the truck tires and keeps the exit road free of sediment. The sediment generated from the wheel wash goes through a settling basin, and the water flows across a weir before returning to the storm water pond where it is recirculated and reused.
Rogers Group goes the extra mile to make sure all of its employees, both hourly and salaried, are trained in the environmental controls that are in place at its quarries. “Basically, it’s an initiative from corporate, by location, for environmental training,” says Tommy Thurman, plant manager at Lacey’s Spring Quarry. “It’s just to let everybody know the importance of what our plans are on any spill prevention and on maintaining what we have. At least once a year, we go through the training. Spill prevention is one part of it. The other part is storm water control, for any contamination or erosion of the berm areas.”
The goal is to train plant employees so that they will recognize and react appropriately to events that might prove harmful to the environment. “Part of that is SPCC (Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasures) training,” Roberts adds. “So if there’s a spill on site, the employees know exactly how to handle it, how to control it, how to make sure none of it gets into the water leaving the property. We want to be able to control that spill on site.”
At Lacey’s Spring Quarry, employees are trained through “Toolbox Talks” and have refresher training once a year regarding potential hazards and protection procedures associated with SPCC. Part of the training program focuses on and explains the reasons behind the need for environmental regulations and provides real-world scenarios and case studies of events that have happened at other quarries.
Every year, the plant superintendent attends a training class where company environmental procedures and protocols are reviewed, Roberts explains. The topics include the company’s environmental policies, pertinent environmental regulations, proper Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) implementation, SPCC regulatory compliance, and what procedures to follow in the event of a reportable incident.
Training is also provided for how to handle spills of all types of lubricants. “We do training on all the different type oils and lubricants we have on site and make sure employees know how to control a spill,” Roberts says. “In the event we have a major spill, we’ve got a spill control kit on site consisting of booms and other equipment necessary in case the oil gets into our holding pond, so we can hem it up with booms and control it.”
Since Lacey’s Spring Quarry began operation in 2007, its employees and management have strived toward excellence in the area of environmental management and have consistently exceeded the expectations of regulatory requirements for stormwater discharges associated with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
As the winner of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association’s 2011 Environmental Excellence Gold Award, Lacey’s Spring Quarry continues to strive for environmental excellence, as does Rogers Group. The company’s environmental staff continues to educate themselves on new legislation and new practices by attending seminars, conferences, and staying abreast of new regulations through on-the-job research.