The Upper Delaware Council, Inc. (UDC) approved a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on Dec. 6 withdrawing its public hearing request on a permit to expand a quarry business in Lackawaxen Township.
While the UDC originally objected to the proposed 40-acre expansion of the Holbert Brothers Bluestone Quarry located within the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River designated boundary due to its non-conformance with the Land and Water Use Guidelines in the River Management Plan, the PA DEP has committed to uphold the Plan’s intent to allow minor surface mining operations as an appropriate land use in the river corridor.
Both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Lackawaxen Township are members of the UDC non-profit organization.
Superintendent Sean McGuinness from the UDC’s federal partner, the National Park Service Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, and Delaware Riverkeeper Network Director Maya K. van Rossum also sent public hearing request withdrawal letters to PA DEP District Mining Manager Michael Menghini based on the conditions that the agency has pledged to impose and enforce in providing the quarry permit.
Wayne D. Holbert of Lackawaxen filed an application with the PA DEP on Oct. 4, 2011 for a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Industrial Mineral Mine permit affecting 40 acres in the vicinity of Masthope Plank Road, following Conditional Use approval for the project granted by the Lackawaxen Township Board of Supervisors on July 23, 2011.
The proposal was to expand two existing five-acre permits for the blasting, crushing, and screening of rock into one 40-acre major mining permit.
The Land and Water Use Guidelines prohibit major surface mining operations in the river corridor, as defined by "any new land use operation which extracts minerals from the earth from active operations exceeding two acres in size…" and defines minor surface mining operations as "not exceeding two acres of active face at one time plus an area equal in size to the active face necessary for accessory use."
PA DEP Pottsville Mining Office staff met with UDC and NPS representatives on Nov. 20 to outline that their proposed permit conditions for the Holbert Quarry will allow two concurrent operations consisting of two-acre parcels for the mining of bluestone and for the mining of aggregate, with an adjacent two-acre support parcel in each case dedicated to processing and stockpiling of the material.
In addition, as work on each two-acre parcel is completed, it will be reclaimed with available topsoil and re-seeded before moving on to the next two-acre parcel.
Permit protects river values
"Under the terms proposed by the PA DEP," stated UDC Chairperson Nadia Rajsz in the Dec. 6 letter following up on the Council’s Jan. 5, 2012 formal request for a public hearing, "we feel that the NPDES permit does protect the outstandingly remarkable values of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River through regulation of surface discharge and appropriate erosion and sediment controls. Likewise, we are satisfied that due to the location of the quarry and its relation to the river and the public road system, the scenic qualities of the river will not be jeopardized."
The letter continues, "The NPDES permit is viewed as an adequate compromise to accommodate the interests and goals of all parties. We will rely on the PA DEP to uphold its regulations throughout the duration of this mining operation and are gratified to learn that there is a more rigorous, quarterly inspection schedule associated with this permit."
It concludes by thanking DEP District Mining Manager Menghini "for your diligence in assuring that mining operations in the designated river corridor meet the intent of the River Management Plan that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has committed to uphold."
• The Nominating Committee presented its slate for 2013 officers.
Their slate is: Chairperson Jeff Dexter, Damascus Twp.; Vice-chair Andrew Boyar, Town of Highland; and Secretary-Treasurer John B. Niflot, Town of Fremont. The vote will take place at the Jan. 3 meeting and the swearing-in ceremony will be on Feb. 6, to accommodate any UDC representative appointment changes at town and township reorganizational meetings.
• The 2012 UDC Annual Report is available online.
For more information on the Upper Delaware Council and its activities, visit www.upperdelawarecouncil.org, stop by the office at 211 Bridge St. in Narrowsburg, NY, or call (845) 252-3022.