February 2018 Newsletter
In this issue:
Gibraltar Rock mining permit update
Zoning Board hearings ended for Gibraltar Rock’s 4th application
Gibraltar Rock has submitted a final plan for GR-1
DEP on-going clean up of the Good Oil Site (Hoff VC HSCA)
New Hanover Town Center
Update: Mining Permit and NPDES Permit
History: In 2014, the Penna. Environmental Hearing Board ordered the company to apply for a mining permit renewal, stating their permit had expired in 2009. Gibraltar Rock began the re-application process in late 2014. In March 2016, the DEP Mining Office in Pottsville, and the DEP Southeast Regional Office in Norristown, came here for a public meeting. The Norristown office oversees the Hoff VC HSCA contamination site and ongoing clean-up (former Good Oil Company), adjacent to the proposed quarry.
As expected, Gibraltar Rock’s expert told the DEP that it is unlikely the Hoff VC HSCA site contaminants would reach Gibraltar Rock’s property. At that same meeting the DEP Environmental Protection Specialist, Colin Wade, admitted that yes, contamination has already been found on the quarry property.
Our attorney, Christopher Mullaney, stated at the 2016 meeting, “For the DEP to say it’s impossible for contaminants to spread throughout the area with blasting is dishonest on their part. The DEP tells us that they have a good sense of where the plume is located but it’s still being studied, therefore, we believe it is wrong to proceed.”
Attorney Robert Brant is the township attorney who has handled the Gibraltar Rock applications since 2001. Mr. Brant assures us that the township’s policy will continue as it has been – to protect the residents of New Hanover Township.
In August 2017, our attorney, and our expert hydro-geologist, along with several township personnel and their experts, met at the DEP Regional Office in Norristown to discuss the permit renewals. Our responses have been submitted to the mining permit chief at the Pottsville DEP Mining Office. At the conclusion of the August meeting, the DEP stated they would likely make a decision on the permit renewal by the end of 2017. As of this writing, the renewal is still pending.
Conclusion: Gibraltar Rock’s 4th Application to the Zoning Hearing Board (82 acres)
The zoning hearings for this application began in April 2015 and concluded in June 2017. Gibraltar Rock requested a “special exception” to quarry on 82 acres. By state law, municipalities must grant a special exception for quarrying but strictly in the heavy-industrial zones, with few exceptions.
On August 3, 2017, final statements to the ZHB were presented by attorneys Rowan Keenan, Robert Brant, and Stephen Harris. On September 7, 2017, the Zoning Hearing Board rendered their decision: They granted Gibraltar Rock a special exception to quarry on the heavy industrial parcels, but the Board also attached 16 “conditions” to the decision. In this decision, the Zoning Board included some conditions related to the Hoff VC HSCA site and the monitoring of sentinel wells on the Gibraltar property. These conditions include:
Gibraltar Rock must maintain an evergreen bond in the amount of $250,000 for contamination and toxic waste clean-up on the site (if chemicals from the Hoff VC site would migrate to Gibraltar’s property).
Gibraltar Rock cannot conduct quarrying below the level where they encounter groundwater that would have to be pumped for 15 years from the date of 9-7-2017.
The sentinel well network must be installed and operating before mining starts.
When the DEP regulates 1,4-Dioxane (one of the chemicals from the Hoff VC site), Gibraltar Rock must immediately comply with that discharge level or cease operations until they can meet that Standard.
Following the ZHB decision, township attorney Robert Brant filed an appeal in the Court of Common Pleas. Shortly thereafter, Gibraltar Rock attorney Stephen Harris also filed an appeal of this decision. (Mr. Harris wants the “conditions” to be eliminated by the court.) And Ban-the-Quarry attorney Rowan Keenan filed a Petition-to-Intervene in both appeals. Mr. Brant and Mr. Keenan have asked the court to combine the appeals into one case, a cost-saving measure for the Township and Ban-the-Quarry. Mr. Harris is not yet sure if he will agree to that.
New: Gibraltar Rock has submitted a final plan for GR-1
In September 2017, Gibraltar Rock submitted a final land development plan to the Board of Supervisors. The company was granted “preliminary approval” of their plan in June 2015, for the 163 acres south of Hoffmansville Road (GR-1). The next step is for the township consultants to look at this final plan. As of this writing, the consultants have not yet started their work on Gibraltar Rock’s final plan submission. When the township consultants study this plan, our attorney and engineer will also begin their evaluation.
Update: DEP’s clean-up of Good Oil site
In 2016, the DEP learned of a concrete truck-washing pit on the Good Oil Co. property containing 500 gallons of various chemicals and compounds. The DEP quickly removed the liquid in the concrete pit. The DEP held a public meeting here in late 2016, to explain the work they had done and the next step of testing the soil surrounding the pit and remediating that soil.
Latest update from the DEP as of January 2018: The Department began the soil removal on Dec. 4, 2017, after excavating contaminated soil next to the Concrete Pit and associated with piping to the Concrete Pit. The excavation activities were continued until Dec. 13, 2017, at which time confirmatory soil samples were collected. The DEP is currently reviewing the results of the samples and their goal is to complete the soil removal soon, weather permitting. A report detailing the Department’s soil removal activities will be provided to New Hanover Township as soon as it is available.
Update: New Hanover Town Center (Wynstone)
The Paradise Watchdogs have been attending both Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors meetings regarding this development. Last summer, we were advising the owners of a property near the Town Center who had several serious health issues related to the application of Round-Up weed killer by a local farmer using the Town Center property to grow corn. We contacted the DEP Southeast Regional Office in Norristown, who recommended the property owners contact the Dept. of Agriculture director in Creamery, and also a specialist at the Univ. of Pennsylvania Hospital, for direction and advice. The property owners also consulted one of our attorneys.
If anyone asks you - there is currently a court-ordered injunction preventing Gibraltar Rock from starting the quarry until they have a township-approved final plan.
You can help pay for legal and engineering consultant fees. All other expenses are paid by our committee. Make checks payable to: Paradise Watchdogs.
Please come out to our monthly bake sales at Freed’s Market, Gilbertsville, usually on the 3rd Saturday of each month, March-to-November (weather permitting). During spring, summer and fall, we sell shrubs, perennials, and fresh garden flowers. At some bake sales, we also sell local crafts.
Thanks for your support!