SPARTA: SOUTHDOWN QUARRY TO PAY FINE, REDUCE DUST
Sparta Twp. : Southdown Quarry signed an agreement with the state Friday that requires the company to implement a dust management plan, including installation of dust monitors, and to pay $246,350 in fines.
Southdown officials agreed to the plan, which calls for them to spend $700,000, nearly two months ago but continued to negotiate with the state Department of Environmental Protection about how much it owed in fines for violations that include emitting too much dust.
"We're anxious to get this behind us," said Alan Bowen, Southdown's regional general manager.
The DEP had tried to close the quarry earlier this year, saying it emitted more dust than allowed by federal regulations. A judge ruled that it could remain open but ordered Southdown officials and the state to negotiate a dust management plan.
"This is a significant milestone for the DEP in terms of our commitment to resolving the compliance issues at Southdown Quarry," DEP Commissioner Robert Shinn said in a statement.
Tests of health risks
The DEP also plans to conduct tests to determine potential health risks associated with asbestos fibers that state officials say are coming from air stacks at the quarry, where limestone is mined and crushed to produce lawn care products. Those tests were supposed to begin last month but have been postponed.
Residents have been complaining about dust for two years, saying they are concerned about asbestos emissions. They had mixed feelings about the announcement Friday. While it requires Southdown to install dust monitors, it does not require the company to install them on its air stacks.
"They should look at the root of the problem and monitor the stacks," said Gay Corbin, who lives near the quarry. "That's where dust should be monitored all the time."
The DEP was unable, on at least one occasion, to cite Southdown for a violation at night because it could not determine how much dust was coming from the stacks. Officials have said the sun must be behind them to determine whether the quarry's air stacks are emitting too much dust.
Southdown agreed to spend $150,000 on dust monitors that will be installed in at least two locations, including next to nearby homes. And it will spend $550,000 to control dust emissions.
The company has spent $40,000 to pave some roads on quarry property, Bowen said, and another $65,000 on a road sweeper. It plans to buy a $30,000 piece of equipment to wash wheels of trucks as they leave the plant to keep dust from being tracked outside.
The agreement also calls for Southdown to pay $141,350 in fines for violations that the DEP says took place between 1998 and April 2000. And it requires the quarry to pay $105,000 for other violations cited by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Meanwhile, the township has proposed an ordinance that would limit Southdown's operations to 11 hours a day, keeping it closed weekends. The quarry now operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No vote has been scheduled.
Abbott Koloff can be reached at email@example.com or (973) 989-0652.
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