You Need to Be Able to Prove Your Innocence


July 1, 2008

Operating crushers underground and in enclosed buildings help one aggregates producer keep the community happy.

Tina Grady Barbaccia, Senior Editor

When it comes to mining, “you’re guilty until proven innocent,” says Alex Boone, president of Sterling Materials, located in Verona, Ky., about 15 miles from Cincinnati. He says he found this out when applying for permits and being turned down more than once. But with the most recent operation for which he obtained a permit, Boone went above and beyond what was required to ensure there wouldn’t be problems this time around-particularly with his crushers.

Boone decided to put his high-calcium limestone operation underground, including his primary crusher. “The surge pile and crushing and screening are on the surface, but they are in totally enclosed buildings,” Boone points out. “They are huge buildings. The crusher building is 70-feet-tall and the screening building is 77-feet tall. You could be 100 feet away and you wouldn’t know what we are doing because the building is enclosed.”

He says this all started when he originally attempted to obtain a permit for an underground limestone mine – but in a very difficult place. “I was going to be in a town that has property within four city limits.” Boone moved to another site in an urban environment and agreed to do nearly everything underground except possibly the solids and the finished product. “I lost this one, too, but I’m glad I did,” Boone says. “It would have been amazingly difficult go get this was going; it would have been five years to get it all done.”

However, even in the rural setting where Boone was finally able to obtain a permit, he says you still need to prove your innocence. “The operation is in a rural setting, but I was still sued multiple times by neighbors for dust, noise, and things relating to noise,” Boone says. “I have agreed to do a lot of things that weren’t mandatory.” Enclosing his aboveground crushing and screening is just one of those.

To ensure no one can claim his crushing, although enclosed, or anything else isn’t too loud, Boone has monitoring apparatus around the perimeter of his operation’s property. “I have three different seismographs, so if someone comes back, sues me, and says, ‘You knocked my candlesticks off the mantle,’ I’ll have the measurements.”

To ensure that there aren’t any accusations that the data are manipulated because they are on Boone’s property, a third party owns the seismographs, gathers the information, and analyzes it. “You need to have everything in spade,” Boone says. “You need to be able to prove your innocence – they don’t have to prove your guilt. Always be gathering information that you may need to defend yourself and disseminate as much as you can.”
On an annual basis, Boone turns over all the data to the state and one of my neighbors. “I agreed to do this because I know I could live up to it,” he says. “Make sure you can live up to what you promise.”

CAPTION: Sterling Materials, located in Verona, Ky., enclosed its crusher in a 70-foot-tall building and its screens in a 77-foot-tall building to appease neighbors and help with obtaining a permit.
PHOTO CREDIT: Photos courtesy of Sterling Materials

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