January 7, 2016
The U.S. Department of Labor filed a complaint seeking a court-ordered injunction prohibiting quarry owner Conrad J. Smith from interfering with or preventing Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspectors from inspecting his site and enforcing safety measures there. According to the Bangor Daily News, federal officials received an anonymous phone call regarding alleged safety violations at Brown’s Meadow Quarry, which Smith owns. The next day, an inspector arrived at the site and noted there were no guard rails around the rim of the quarry opening. He attempted to talk with Smith, who was allegedly uncooperative and told the inspector to leave. “Rather than engage, Mr. Smith stood in front of (the inspector), turned his backside to him, and bent over and exposed half of his naked posterior,” the complaint notes. A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order against Smtih, barring him from interfering with inspections and enforcement actions at the site.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation issued a notice of violation against Tilcon New York for its Haverstraw Quarry. The Journal News reports that the violation notice says the state agency inspected the operation in August after receiving complaints regarding dust, noise, and mud discharge into the Hudson River. Its inspection identified seven violations of the Mine Land Reclamation Permit and the Environmental Conservation Law, including a discharge of mud and sand into the Hudson River and failure of dust control. A Tilcon spokesman said in a statement that the company has “addressed every one of the alleged violations outlined in the DEC document” and is working cooperatively with the DEC to address its concerns.
Gilbraltar Rock received unanimous approval of an 11-acre solar array to generate electricity for its quarrying operation near Hillsborough. According to CentralJersey.com, the planning board’s approval will allow about 10,000 fixed 3-foot by 6-foot solar panels to be built on top of the tailings pile on its site. Previously, the operator had sought permission to cut down 20 acres of trees to install the solar panels, but received opposition on that proposal. After further geotechnical studies showed that the tailings pile could support the solar array, the vast majority of opposition to the project was satisfied.
Hedrick Industries, owner of Grove Stone and Sand, was featured in Black Mountain News for its support of its neighbor, the Black Mountain Home for Children. The orphanage and aggregates operation have built a strong partnership during recent years. “We are a fourth-generation family-owned and operated company, so community is important to us,” Joe Lordi, Hedrick Industries division president and chief operation officer, told the news agency. “It is a big emphasis, and it always has been. By nature of what we do, we are in a position where we have to be good stewards of the land, and we also have to be good neighbors.” The quarry hosted a Rock The Quarry 5K that raised $30,000 for the orphanage in 2015.
A man was life-flighted to a local hospital following a chase that ended when his vehicle went over the highwall and crashed into a Thompson Township quarry, The News-Herald reports. A Geauga County Sheriff’s patrol attempted a traffic stop because the vehicle was wanted for unauthorized use. The driver, Matthew Stemple, allegedly tried to flee the scene. His car went off the side of the road, hit a pole, and crashed into the quarry. The car fell about 200 feet, according to an Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSHP) trooper. The crash remains under investigation, but an OSHP press release indicates that drugs and alcohol are believed to have been a factor.
Whitehall Township suffered a setback in its attempt to halt a quarry operator’s reclamation efforts. According to The Morning Call, the township’s Zoning Hearing Board voted 5-0 that it had no justification to nullify variances previously granted to Coplay Aggregates. Township commissioners had filed an appeal seeking to overturn a pair of variances allowing the company to conduct quarry operations based on a notice of violation issued by the state Department of Environmental Protection. The board’s solicitor told the newspaper that the board only has jurisdiction to hear zoning cases set out by the Municipal Planning Code and by the township, but the township’s request did not meet that criteria.
South Middleton Township supervisors are giving a group of residents until its next meeting to bring in expert witnesses or legal representation to prove there could be issues if Union Quarries moves its crusher to a new location on its property, PennLive.com reports. The quarry contends that the new location would be further away from residents, quieter, and would allow for increased production. Residents claim it could cause environmental problems, noise pollution, and a decrease in property values. The operator has already agreed to several neighbor requests, including restricting hours of operation. Supervisor Bryan Gembusia noted that the only factual evidence provided to the supervisors was from the operator including a recent blast report that showed it was within the limit for blasting.
The Nashville Metro Council unanimously approved a pair of bills from Old Hickory-area councilman Larry Hagar that were filed in an attempt to block a limestone quarry from operating near the Old Hickory dam. According to The Tennessean, the bills create new buffer zones to prevent mineral extraction activity and cement or asphalt plants from locating immediately near residential homes in Nashville. Metro Department of Law Director Jon Cooper noted that the quarry company, Industrial Land Developers, had already received a building permit for an office building to be built at the quarry and said that it was his opinion that its rights in the property are vested. If a court takes the same view, the bill on mineral extraction would not apply to quarry development. Hagar said the company must still obtain a mining permit from the Tennessee Department of Environment.
Vulcan Materials Co. won approval, on a 7-1 vote, to move forward with changes in its plan for a quarry in Western Lexington County. The State reports that Vulcan agreed to expand the landscape buffer around the mine to reduce noise and dust and to create a new entry on U.S. 1 for trucks hauling aggregates. Both changes “are the best thing for our operation and for the community,” Vulcan Vice President Elliott Botzis told the newspaper.
The Brady City Council voted to authorize two sales tax rebate incentives for a proposed U.S. Cement plant that would be built in McCulloch County. The San Angelo Standard-Times reports that the company hopes to build a plant and quarry on nearly 500 acres north of Brady. The city sales tax rebate economic development incentive would not exceed $297,000 over nine years, or up to $33,000 per year. The Brady Economic Development Corp. incentive would be a one-time payment of $250,000, plus $34,000 up to nine years, for a total package of $556,000 over a decade. Council authorized city staff members to pursue negotiations with the operator before it goes back to city council for final approval. Qualifications include that the operator generate a plant and quarry that improves the property value of its location by $175 million and provides 200 permanent and full-time jobs. There would also have to be a 100-foot buffer zone away from anything it doesn’t own, and the plant will have to purchase all of its natural gas from the city.