Supervisors claim quarry sound tests had erratic results

Solebury wonders if New Hope Crushed Stone was operating at full capacity when some tests were done.

By: Carl Reader
   SOLEBURY — Sound monitoring near New Hope Crushed Stone has produced some erratic results, and the Board of Supervisors is suspicious about whether the testing is being done when the quarry is operating at full capacity.
   The decibel level was up and down, according to the supervisors, depending on when the readings were done.
   "There was a joint monitoring that was done (of the sound) by the quarry and Valley Forge Labs," reported Supervisor Tom Caracio at the Oct. 15 board meeting.
   The readings changed several times, according to Mr. Caracio, from Sept. 4 to Oct. 1. He said two readings taken by the private lab on the Grover property were in excess of 60 decibels Sept. 4. On two other properties, the readings were in the mid-50 range. The readings decreased over time, he said, until the joint readings by both the lab and the quarry were taken Sept. 18.
   "Miraculously, the (joint) readings were 46.7, 43.6, 45.1 and 48," Mr. Caracio said. "However, the next readings, which were a day later, were 52, 51.4, 50.3 and 50.3. And then, lo and behold, on Oct. 1, the readings were 60.2, 60, 50.1 and 50.5. So I think it’s interesting the readings when the joint monitoring was done were well within the range of acceptability and livability, but we still have some anomalies that are occurring."
   Supervisor Stephen Phillips read from a Department of Environmental Protection report that said it was not known if the quarry was operating at full capacity when the joint monitoring was taking place. He said he thought it was agreed the quarry would be operating at full capacity when the joint readings were taken, and Township Solicitor Stephen Harris said that was correct.
   Mr. Caracio said he had no way of verifying that.
   "Maybe they were operating at full capacity that day and at half capacity when the noise increases," Mr. Phillips asked sardonically. "Do you think that’s what happened?"
   Supervisor John Eichert agreed it was suspicious the readings changed and suggested more readings are needed.
   Mr. Harris also reported the township had worked with the DEP to select monitoring sites for the dust associated with the quarry. One monitoring site would be upwind, and one would be downwind. The monitoring stations could be set up as soon as Oct. 22, according to Mr. Harris, and monitoring could begin as soon as three days after that.
   Each monitoring station would require and electrical setup with 120 volts and 20 amps, Mr. Harris said.
   "They want to put a small enclosure around the bottom so that these things are not interfered with," Mr. Harris said.
   Mr. Eichert noted the supervisors had asked for standards for dust emission for one of the quarry’s permits to be renewed, and he asked if the township could ask for other standards to be changed for the permit allowing water discharge. Mr. Caracio asked if the township could ask for the water use of the quarry to be lowered from 4 million gallons a day to 1.5 million gallons per day.
   "You have the ability to say 4 million gallons is too high," Mr. Harris said. "The issue is what evidence does the township have that the removal of 4 million gallons a day is having an adverse effect on the surrounding aquifer?"
   Well loss has been a contention among the quarry, residents and township officials for some time.
   Mr. Eichert said he had received a letter from the Pottsville District Mining office on how to report a well loss. It defined the process of who to contact and when. The information is available at the township office.
   "The process is very important because, up until now, we’ve never had any documentation as to what needs to occur if a person loses a well," Mr. Caracio said. "The process of how water is restored on an immediate basis, on an emergency basis and an ongoing basis if there is potential the quarry is the cause of the de-watering of a person’s well are now stipulated in a letter from DEP."
   The phone number to call, Mr. Eichert said, is (570) 621-3118. The fax number is (570) 621-3110.