State and Province News August 2014

Therese Dunphy

August 1, 2014

To keep up to date with this breakdown of news in the United States and Canada, visit for daily updates.

by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief



A permitting snafu could change the way Mat-Su Borough works with contractors, the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reports. Until now, the general contractor was responsible for ensuring the gravel used in area road projects was permitted, but the borough may now take a closer look at that process. The issue came to light with regards to the pit supplying a $6 million project to extend local roads. When the borough inspected the property, an official noticed gravel trucks on the site. An inspection of the gravel company’s permit showed that it expired in 2010. An area assemblyman told the newspaper that the ensuing work stoppage was unfair, and she wanted the permit to be issued as “expeditiously as possible.” Borough officials said it could be issued within 17 days.



Members of the newly formed Congamond Lake Environmental Protection Organization have appealed Suffield Zoning and Planning Commission’s approval of a special permit renewal for a local sand and gravel operation. The Journal Inquirer says the appeal claims the commission acted beyond its authority when it unanimously approved a permit renewal for Lake Road Materials LLC. Further, it claims that the permit was expired and the site had been abandoned for 10 years. It called the permit approval “arbitrary and capricious.”



In mid-July, Thornton Quarry served as a feature destination on the Southeast Environmental Task Force’s Brown Bag Eco-Tour, entitled “Deep Tunnel Tour and Thornton Quarry.” According to the Southtown Star, the four-hour tour stopped at Thornton Quarry to view the stormwater reservoir before visiting the pumping station and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s site. Quarry experts served as tour guides, and tickets were sold at $25 per person.



Dive teams recovered the body of a Rhode Island teen who went missing while swimming in a Massachusetts quarry. The Associated Press reports that the body of 18-year-old Nentor Dahn was found on July 7 in about 60 feet of water and 10 feet from the highwall of Fletcher Quarry in Milford. Witnesses say Dahn jumped about 50 feet from a ledge the previous afternoon. He and friends had been swimming in the privately owned quarry.


New Mexico

The Sante Fe County Commission postponed a decision regarding the creation of a mining zone that would allow an Albuquerque company to develop a sand and gravel operation on La Bajada Mesa. According to the Albuquerque Journal, about 600 people attended the commission’s meeting, which included more than six hours of testimony from applicants and more than 50 members of the public speaking against the plan. The application received a recommendation for approval from the county staff. The proposed site is in an area zoned for residential and agricultural use, but it is set to be rezoned under the county’s sustainable growth management plan.


North Dakota

The U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit against Jamestown-based Northern Excavating Co. and its owner in early July. It alleges the company denied federal officials entry to the mine site at least three times since May, the Associated Press reports. Court documents indicate that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) received complaints of several violations, including failure to provide protective equipment for workers. An inspector visited the site, but was turned away by a company employee shortly after MSHA received the complaint. The gate was locked, and the inspector was unable to access the site. The next day, the inspector returned to serve the operation with an order to halt operations “but everything was locked and no one was there.” An inspector returned weeks later and was again denied entry by an employee. He said, however, that the mine had clearly been in operation during the time of the shutdown. MSHA is waiting for a judge’s ruling on its lawsuit, which accuses the company of violating its right to access the mine. A spokesman for the agency said that, if it is denied entry again, it would enlist the help of U.S. Marshals to accompany them to the site.



At Aggregates Manager press time, the owners of Sunny Valley Sand and Gravel were waiting for a decision from the Josephine County Board of Commissioners with regard to its proposed gravel mine. Its decision could provide insight into the effectiveness of the state’s Goal 5 land-use plan, designed to protect aggregate resources, among other resources. According to the Grants Pass Daily Courier, the planning commission sent the permit request to the board of commissioners with no consensus. Andreas Blech, president of the company, told the newspaper that its request is the “culmination of six years of work, with two dozen consultants, and 20 agencies.” His team made its presentation to the board of commissioners and was followed by residents speaking against it. Due to the number of people who signed up to talk, the meeting was extended to another date.



The FBI will conduct explosives training in an Upper Macungie quarry in September. The Morning Call reports the agency will work with small explosives, ranging from 1 to 5 pounds. One of the two days it does so, local fire, police, and other first responders will be allowed to observe from a safe distance.



The bard is making a month-long appearance at the Rexville-Blackrock Amphitheater, a former quarry in Skagit County. According to The Bellingham Herald, the Shakespeare Northwest troupe will present alternating performances of “Macbeth” and “Much Ado About Nothing” through mid-August.



The Washington Department of Ecology says it issued a $20,000 penalty to Mason Quarry for illegally discharging surface water at its Port Ludlow site and impacting nearby wetlands, properties, and roads. Numerous inspections found muddy water being discharged without the proper permit or any monitoring, and one inspection found muddy water flowing from the entrance of the quarry, along a haul road, and into a ditch that flows into Shine Creek. The agency began to issue warnings to the operator in 2011. It has now issued the fine and an order for it to fix damage caused by the runoff, erosion, and sediment by the end of the month. In addition, it must submit an erosion-control plan and use best practices to prevent tracking sediment from the site onto roadways. It must also seek a sand and gravel general permit that sets limits and establishes best management practices for safely discharging water and comply with its current general permit, which does not allow for discharging to surface waters.



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