Bucks County Herald

State Department of Environmental Protection answers questions about New Hope Crushed Stone

State sets quarry restoration deadline at March 2019

BIRGITTA WOLFE



Chart shows the rising water level in the quarry pit. Blue bar is estimated level and the green bar is from the NHCS consultant

The current and future status of the New Hope Crushed Stone quarry attracted some 50 people to the annual Solebury Community Meeting for a presentation by the state Department of Environmental Protection on Oct. 4 at the Municipal Building.

The state has ordered the quarry reclamation and stream restoration of Primrose Creek to be completed by March 2019.

DEP geologist Michael Kutney estimated the quarry has only about one year left for extracting stone because of the rising water level in the pit.

The quarry had been pumping out 2 million to 2.5 million gallons of groundwater a day for its mining operations, which caused sinkholes on neighboring properties.

The state Environmental Hearing Board then cut the allowed amount to 500,000 gallons a day causing the water level in the pit to rise. Crushed Stone then appealed its loss to the state Commonwealth Court at the end of September.

“In one year, the water (in the pit) has risen 75 feet,” said Supervisor Chair Kevin Morrissey.
“They can appeal, but that water is still rising.”

Some residents wondered what happens if Crushed Stone abandons the project or goes bankrupt and just walks away.

The company cannot walk away from its environmental obligation, Kutney said, noting it has posted a $1.14 million bond.

Persisting, residents wanted to know what happens if the bond isn’t enough.

Morrissey responded that the quarry has an enticement to complete the restoration project.

“It’s 210 acres. That’s their enticement. That’s the reason to continue. It’s zoned residential and the enticement is the (valuable) property,” he said.

Another concern was the low water level in neighboring wells where residents had to install larger well pumps. Would the rising water level in the pit mean their wells’ water level would rise also?

“The groundwater level hasn’t changed, though the pit water has,” Kutney said, adding the groundwater level rise is “a couple years down the road.”

Under the stream restoration plan, once the quarry pit completely fills, which is expected in July 2019, the downstream portion of Primrose Creek will naturally outflow from the pool within the pit. The quarry pit will be a big lake in the middle of the creek.

Some residents asked what the DEP could do to keep kids from using the pit as a swimming hole and keeping vagrants out of the area.

Once the reclamation is completed in March 2019, Kutney said, “DEP is out” and any regulations would be up to Crushed Stone.

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