Early planning stages for surface operation
Though only in the early planning stages, a proposed quarry in Springfield Township is already under scrutiny.
Concerned about the implications for the area, the township’s Environmental Advisory Council has asked that it be represented in any decision-making process, and that the public be kept apprised of any developments in the application phase.
Operator H&K Group Inc. announced a conditional use application in March for a non-coal surface mining operation, but the planning commission, whose meetings have been disrupted by the pandemic, has yet to address the application, which would require final approval by a majority of township supervisors.
Article 6 of the township zoning ordinance does allow for a quarry in a planned industrial district, and H&K Group has made some concessions regarding the 196-acre site, bordered by Route 309, Springfield Street, Salem Road and Mine Street, and adjacent to what will be the Saucon Rail Trail.
The company is proposing an internal access road on site to alleviate the need to use township roads and will require truck traffic to exit via nearby Route 309 to avoid residential areas.
H&K plans to install buffers on site to minimize noise and states any lights will be positioned to minimize impact on surrounding area. The heavily wooded site contains a tributary of the Tohickon Creek and wetlands; however, the company insists surface water quality will be regularly monitored.
Its application calls for blasts twice a week during normal working hours, and it assures the township that likely complaints about dust and noise will be investigated and resolved.
Speaking at the May board of supervisors meeting, EAC member Ariane Elinich said there was “a good possibility irreparable harm could result from this project” and urged supervisors to consider its environmental impacts.
Elinich elaborated on those impacts in an email last week. “I am very concerned that this quarry is being proposed in the vicinity of a sensitive wetland complex, will require the utilization of a great deal of water from our local aquifers to maintain its operations (including the use of water cannons to manage the dispersion of dust from the quarry stockpiles), and the driveway for this facility is planned to cross a floodplain.”
She highlighted the risk of fire hazards as a result of combustible materials on site, and said the regular blasts would affect the local quality of life.
The tract is proposed to be surrounded by a (far from aesthetically pleasing) security fence and security lighting would be needed, increasing the light pollution in this area,” she continued, referring to the proposed site enhancements.