July 31, 2011
The Department of Environmental Protection approved on July 29 a 50-foot, next-level excavation that will allow New Hope Crushed Stone & Lime to excavate limestone to a depth of 170 feet below sea level at its Bucks County quarry, according to the Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Mining.
The quarry, which has been in operation since the 1930s, has already been permitted to mine limestone to 200 feet below mean sea level, but approval must be granted at each 50-foot increment to continue to the next level. DEP’s review of the company’s application for the current expansion has been underway for two and a half years and has considered significant public input received through a series of meetings and correspondence.
“As part of its review and prior to approving this expansion, our staff completed thorough assessments of potential impacts to the local water table and to the surrounding area’s geology,” Secretary Mike Krancer said. “We listened intently to the input of the Primrose Creek Watershed Association, Solebury School and other neighbors and stakeholders, and we included important safeguards in this permit.”
One of those safeguards specifically provides that if mining results in any adverse impact to Primrose Creek’s water quality, mining must stop and could only resume if DEP is satisfied that the problem is permanently mitigated.
DEP also incorporated various permit conditions regarding the area’s geologic terrain and considerations related to the quarry’s impact to the area’s geology, involving the Pennsylvania Geologic Survey’s sinkhole expert in the review.
Even though the terrain that surrounds the quarry is naturally vulnerable to sinkholes, regardless of quarry operations, DEP has required that the quarry’s operator implement additional measures to help prevent and address sinkhole formation and subsidence on neighboring properties, including additional monitoring requirements. The permit requires that the operator repair any sinkholes that might occur within and adjacent to the quarry’s hydrologic zone of influence, which includes Solebury School’s property.