3M fined $15,000 for pollution at quarry

State DEP imposes penalty; talks continue on containment plan.

By: Jill Matthews
   MONTGOMERY — The 3M Company has been fined $15,000 by the state Department of Environmental Protection for violating the New Jersey Water Pollutant Control Act and New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System regulations.
   3M was found to be in violation of the total suspended solids discharge limitation set forth in DEP permits and was also found to be discharging pollutants to waters without a valid permit.
   A site investigation performed at the company in late October found total suspended solids discharge at 680 milligrams per liter, towering above the permit limit of 50 milligrams per liter and the company’s reported results of 0.5 milligrams per liter.
   Pollutants were discharged to nearby water basins without a valid permit and the levels of pollutant concentrations were found to be inconsistent with control basins.
   "Honestly, we are doing everything we can to be good corporate citizens and hopefully go above and beyond the rules and regulations," said Keith Jacobs, newly appointed Belle Mead plant manager for 3M. He added that the company is fully cooperating with DEP officials and is working diligently to resolve the matter.
   The DEP confirmed that 3M is working to correct its problems. The company is planning a major construction for settling basins to manage storm water runoff, has received DEP approval and is in discussions to include a schedule, according to DEP spokesman Peter Boger.
   "We understand there is an outstanding penalty for 3M in addition to the previous ones that have already been documented," said Mr. Boger, adding that the DEP has been vigilant in documenting 3M violations.
   3M and Montgomery Township have had a rocky relationship over the past decade and are working to resolve concerns the community has expressed about the company’s environmental practices.
   At Wednesday night’s Environmental Commission meeting, the commission informally rejected a proposed site plan for monitoring locations and instead decided to draw up a counterproposal.
   In the plan, 3M offered to set up four macroinvertebrate test sites on its property. The company would not agree to monitoring sites outside of its property boundaries, said Don Johnson, township engineer.
   The proposed monitoring sites on 3M property include two control test sites, only one of which would actually be used. But members of the Environmental Commission and representatives from the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association were concerned that the proposed monitoring sites were not sufficient.
   "If I had to give up one, I’d give up the control," said Christine Altomari, a representative from the watershed association. She also said the sampling locations proposed by 3M fail to monitor the mineral fines and instead suggested a site located on Back Brook.
   The company and the township are also working out a final revised resolution to clean up a 40-acre mineral fines pile that is 80 feet high. The company agreed to construct a geomembrane layer, two layers of compacted materials and then a final 6-inch layer of topsoil, to help stop airborne and waterborne particulate matter from making its way to surrounding properties, according to Mr. Johnson. The company and township are also considering a plan that would break down the mineral fine piles into 5-acre segments, making it easier to control the particulate matter.