May 1, 2015
Vulcan Materials Co. is in the process of transforming all of the original 30- to 50-foot benches at its Azusa operation into 1- and 2-foot microbenches that match the contours of the natural hillside. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the operator has an Aug. 19 deadline to finish the first phase of its reclamation work. At the same time, preparation has begun on the quarry’s western side, as overburden is removed to provide access to more than 100 million tons of granite reserves. That development has been the source of numerous legal challenges from the neighboring community of Duarte. Both biologists and air quality specialists regularly visit the site to monitor progress. Jeff Cameron, Vulcan’s special projects manager, told the newspaper that the company is taking a number of steps, including setting up sprinkler systems on the hillside, to minimize air pollution.
An $18 million campaign is underway to reopen UC Santa Cruz’s outdoor Quarry Amphitheater, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports. The quarry was operated from 1860 to 1946 and provided much of the limestone used in San Francisco construction during that time period. The amphitheater opened in 1967 and served as the heart of the campus prior to being closed in 2006 due to safety reasons. Its restoration is a top priority for Alison Galloway, campus provost and executive vice chancellor. Students voted to direct $6.38 million of its student fee reserves toward the project, but nearly $8 million is needed to break ground on the first phase of construction. If enough funds can be raised by the summer, construction will begin in the spring, and the theater will reopen in early 2017.
A 51-year-old man is accused of embezzling more than $1.1 million from his former employer, Koby-luck LLC. According to The Bulletin, Todd Francis was arrested for first-degree larceny. He served as operations manager for Kobyluck LLC in Waterford for a decade and handled production and distribution of sand, gravel, and ready-mixed concrete. When he was off work last year, his employer discovered missing paperwork for deliveries and contacted local law enforcement. Francis had been pocketing payments for deliveries by taking cash orders from customers at a discount, then destroying delivery records or not creating a delivery record at all. From 2005 to 2014, the company lost $1.14 million as a result of his activities.
As Bluegrass Materials expands the surface area of its quarry in Forsyth County, it held a meeting with neighbors to discuss blasting. The Forsyth County News reports that some meeting attendees reported feeling stronger vibrations during recent blasts. Donnie Walker, operations manager, told the newspaper that the operation has been expanding its pit since last November. He told attendees that another shot would likely be required as the operation strips overburden to open up the pit. A blasting consultant for the company noted that it is well within the regulations and uses the latest technology to minimize impact, including more expensive blast caps for quick detonation.
Simpson County Judge-Executive Jim Henderson was dismissed as a defendant in a lawsuit brought by Drakes Creek Holding Co., which sued him, the Franklin-Simpson County Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Franklin-Simpson County Board of Zoning Adjustment. According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the operator sued the parties last year for $13 million, claiming they had engaged in a pattern of behavior designed to interfere with its effort — along with sister company, Charles Deweese Construction — to operate a quarry. Its permit application was denied last year by the board of adjustment. The operator appealed the decision. Five lawsuits related to the quarry have been filed in Simpson Circuit Court.
An operator and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP) are having a difference of opinion on whether a Mount Desert quarry should be grandfathered from current regulations. The Mount Desert Islander reports that Harold MacQuinn Inc. applied for a license to resume operations in Mount Desert after the town adopted a licensing ordinance in 2014. An attorney for the operator said that permit requirements do not apply to quarries smaller than one acre and there is an exemption for quarries that existed before 1970. The operator argues that it is operating within a 1.1-acre footprint and, as long as it stays within that footprint, it is not subject to DEP regulations. The mining coordinator for MDEP’s Bureau of Land & Water Quality said that, based on the operation’s long-term plan to expand the site to 4.3 acres, it must file a Notice of Intent to Comply with MDEP rules.
Tilcon New York is developing a plan to address dust at its Haverstraw Quarry. The state Department of Environmental Conservation issued a consent order and $125,000 fine in January. “The company has been cooperative and is currently in compliance with the consent order,” DEC spokesman Wendy Rosenbach told The Journal News. The DEC issued seven violations against the operation for issues such as over-excavation, erosion from material stockpiles, and failure of dust control. A spokesman for the company told the newspaper that it is working closely with DEC and has begun to remove material from the stockpile while developing a remediation plan.
Five Amish miners at Russell Stone Products operation had to be moved to other roles. According to CNBC, the issue stems from the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s requirement that workers wear hardhats on the site. The safety requirement conflicts with Amish religion, which requires them to wear black felt or straw hats. A senior fellow at the Young Center told The Morning Call that the Amish view the hat as a religious symbol and don’t want the loss of the hat in construction areas to lead to an erosion of wearing it elsewhere.
A tenant at H&K’s operation in Douglassville has put it in the spotlight — and not in a favorable way. Frontier Mulch Products leases land at the quarry for its business, but it has experienced nearly a dozen mulch fires since last November. According to 69 News, the most recent fire kept dozens of fire companies busy on Easter Sunday. More than 1 million gallons of water and nearly 200 firefighters were needed to control the blaze that day. A spokesman for Amity Fire & Rescue said the fire depleted the Pottstown borough’s water supply. The mulch company referred the news crew to H&K spokesman Tony Jeremias, who said the matter is being taken very seriously, and fire prevention is a top priority.
Dingman Township Supervisors renewed a conditional-use permit that will allow Springbook Enterprises’ quarry to continue operations for another decade. According to The Pike County Courier, brothers Keith and Roger Mitschele Jr. appeared before the supervisors to present their case, but no other members of the public attended. The town’s roadmaster was directed to keep supervisors updated on the status of the access road used by the operation and to alert them to any changes, as well as whether reimbursement issues arise. The company pays 10 cents per ton when material is removed from the site.
Michelle Buck, town manager of Westerly, resigned in early April, citing an ongoing dispute over a quarry. The Westerly Sun reports that Buck said matters regarding Copar quarry interfered with her and the town council’s work. Prior to her resignation, Buck met in a closed-door session with council to respond to accusations of unethical conduct, dishonesty, and participation in a cover up regarding the quarry case.
The Town of Deerfield Board held a special meeting to consider several ordinances governing non-metallic mining. The Cambridge News reports that it considered three resolutions: Non-Metallic Mine Operator’s Licenses, Town of Deerfield Blasting Ordinance, and A Resolution Establishing Fees for Non-Metallic Mining and Blasting Licenses in the Town of Deerfield. During discussion of the proposed ordinances, Jon Halverson, who owns and operates Oak Park Quarry; legal counsel; and a blasting consultant explained the technical aspects of blasting. At the end of the meeting, the board tabled the first ordinance and planned to re-write it to separate fracking from quarry mining. The proposed fee schedule was tabled to allow the operator to review it. The blasting ordinance was adopted by the full board.
If Yahara Materials wins a bid to supply materials for the Interstate 39-90 construction project, the state Department of Transportation will allow the new quarry to open on Highway 73 in Albion. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, a DOT state access committee required the operator to pay for an extra lane on the far side of the quarry entrance so traffic can pass trucks turning left into the quarry. DOT Access Manager Scott Hinkle also wanted the quarry to add a full lane for trucks turning right out of the quarry driveway and onto the highway. He initially turned down the operator’s request to access the highway from the quarry, but was overruled by the committee. Yahara Materials president Tim Geoghegan told the newspaper that the highway will be widened for better egress, but it won’t be a full lane. He also pointed out that plans for the quarry entrance are the same as similar entrances on Highway 73.
The County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a permit application from John E. Rice and Sons, Inc. to mine stone, sand, and gravel from a 40-acre tract to make crushed base and hot-mix asphalt for Wyoming Department of Transportation projects near Sheridan. The DOT project is expected to require 30,000 tons of base and 37,000 tons of asphalt, according to The Sheridan Press. The operator was given a four-year permit, and the operation will be permitted to work around the clock from Monday through Saturday. Several other conditions apply.