August 2017 Newsletter

UPDATE: Gibraltar Rock’s pending permits

In our February newsletter, we reported that Gibraltar Rock’s mining permit renewal application was still pending. The Penna. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has still not issued the renewal, but we expect it will be issued by the end of this year. The mining permit includes renewal of the NPDES permit (Natl. Pollutant Discharge Elimination System), and this permit is of great concern to our community and also to the DEP – because of the proximity of the quarry to the Hoff VC HSCA site (formerly Swann Oil and Good Oil companies).

On March 29, 2016, representatives from both the DEP District Mining Office in Pottsville, PA, and the DEP Southeast Regional Office in Norristown, PA, held a public meeting at our area junior high school. The purpose was to provide an opportunity for the community to make comments and state objections to the renewal of the two permits sought by Gibraltar Rock, Inc. In 2014, the Penna. Environmental Hearing Board ordered Gibraltar Rock to apply for permit renewals, stating their permits had expired years ago.

 

At the March meeting, Gibraltar Rock’s expert described what would be done "in the unlikely event there is contamination

(from the Hoff VC site) in Gibraltar Rock’s sentinel wells". Our attorney, Chris Mullaney, asked DEP personnel to look at a map showing several wells on Gibraltar Rock’s property that has chemicals from the hazardous site. Then a DEP Environmental Protection Specialist, Colin Wade, admitted that yes, contamination has been found on Gibraltar Rock’s land.

 

Our attorney stated at the 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, it’s wrong to proceed.”

 

Robert Brant, New Hanover Township special counsel since 2001, told the DEP that the Board of Supervisors wants to assure that residents are protected, and that is still their mandate in New Hanover Township. At this meeting, twenty-three residents offered their comments to the DEP. We thank all of them on behalf of the entire community.

On August 1, 201, a meeting was held at the DEP-

SE Regional Office in Norristown to discuss a DRAFT

renewal of Gibraltar Rock’s permits and to take comments/questions by everyone in attendance. Those in

attendance were: Attorney Chris Mullaney, Gil Marshall

(our expert hydrogeologist), Attorney Bob Brant (representing New Hanover Township), Jamie Gwynn (township manager), Toby Kessler (township expert hydrogeologist), State Senator Bob Mensch, State Rep. Marcy Toepel, Ross Snook (NHT Environmental Advisory Board), and Celeste Bish (Paradise Watchdogs), along with approx. fifteen DEP personnel.

 

Since the August 1st meeting, our attorney has sent an 8-

page response to the Mining Permit Chief at the Pottsville DEP office. Bob Brant, Ross Snook, and Celeste Bish have also submitted comments, and we believe Sen. Mensch and Rep. Toepel have followed suit.

UPDATE : Zoning Hearing Board–Gibraltar Rock’s Application-4

Zoning hearings began in April 2015 when Gibraltar Rock filed an application covering 82 acres, requesting a “special exception” from the Board. By state law, municipalities must grant a special exception for quarrying but strictly in the Heavy Industrial zones, with few exceptions. We believe we have one of those “exceptions” in New Hanover–the proximity of the quarry to the Hoff VC/Good Oil contamination site.


The GR4 hearings concluded in June 2017, the attorneys

submitted final briefs on 6-30-17, and the three

attorneys involved – Bob Brant for New Hanover Township, Steve Harris for Gibraltar Rock, and Rowan Keenan for Ban-

the-Quarry, all presented their final statements on August 3, 2017. Rowan’s comments were on-point and great, and Bob Brant backed up Rowan’s findings.

 

The Zoning Board promised to render their decision on Thursday, September 7, 2017, at the township administration building, at 2943 North Charlotte St, Gilbertsville, PA, starting at 6:30 pm.

 

NEWS: From Maxatawny Township, Berks County-Aug 10, 2017

 

Residents who live near the Kutztown Quarry fear their wells are going dry and the quarry is to blame. At a township meeting in mid-August, residents presented a petition asking the State DEP to suspend pumping an estimated 5,000 gallons a minute from the region’s aquifer. To add insult to injury, the quarry owner (New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co.) has requested a permit from the DEP to allow the company to deepen the mine to pump 8,000 gallons of water per minute into Saucony Creek.

 

The residents have requested:

  • Pumping completely stopped until the issue involving their wells is resolved
     

  • The quarry should pay for costs incurred in drilling deeper wells to restore their water supply
     

  • To delay a decision for the permit to allow the company to deepen the mine
     

  • That their township and neighboring townships hire an independent consultant to determine what impact the mining operation has on the region’s water table

 

One resident who lives a mile from the quarry has lowered his pump from 105 feet to 130 feet because of a shrinking water level in his well. And he reports that his water quality is not the same.

 

This will sound familiar: The New Enterprise Stone & Lime Company has assured the township and residents that they are working with the DEP to ensure its mining operations have as little impact on the water table as possible. The company’s vice president has promised they will restore water to any residence with sufficient water loss, provided there is scientific information to back up the claim that it is due to quarry mining operations. Our question: Can each homeowner afford to hire someone to gather that scientific information?

The quarry company also promises: To provide bottled water or tank water on a temporary basis, and if necessary, drill a new well for affected property owners. Our question: Temporary basis ? ? ?

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 fees & transcripts for meetings. All other expenses are paid by our committee.
     

  • Check out our monthly bake sales at Freed’s Market, Swamp Pike, Gilbertsville, usually on the 3rd Saturday of each month, March through November (weather permitting–check our website). During spring, summer and fall, we often sell shrubs, perennials, and fresh garden flowers.
     

  • Consider making a donation (envelope enclosed). No amount is too small

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