At the July 9th Council Meeting, Councilman Vinnie Pellegrini made a motion to form a special committee to address Tilcon’s Quarry license renewal. Councilman Astarita, who has been passionate about the concerns of Riverdale residents was quick to second the motion. In the end, however, Astarita stepped back to allow Councilmen Clinton and Mastrangelo fill out the committee.
At the meeting, Clinton indicated that he has gathered information regarding the blasting operations and has also spoken with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with respect to various environmental concerns expressed in previous meetings about the massive pile of asphalt millings. Asphalt millings are basically reclaimed road surfaces that are ground up for reuse in paving of roads and such. Though the collection and reuse of these millings is encouraged as part new paving projects, according to the NJ State DEP, standalone use can pose several environmental risks, especially when located near surface water such as lakes and rivers. Tilcon downplayed this risk saying that runoff from giant asphalt millings pile posed no threat, this is a direct contradiction to the information provided on the NJ State website (NJ State DEP – Asphalt Millings). However, the DEP has allowed the existence of these piles at multiple quarry sites operated by Tilcon so it will be interesting to learn what information Clinton has gathered on the subject.
As mentioned in the article in the July 12th edition of the Suburban Trends (Quarry Committee), Tilcon has already posted a $2.1 million bond as a performance guarantee for reclamation of the Riverdale Quarry site. The current reclamation plan was submitted in November 2001 as part of a settlement of a lawsuit between Tilcon and the Borough of Riverdale. However, there are 3 critical elements that are not address in this estimate of the reclamation costs; the removal of the asphalt millings, the removal of all structures and equipment, the excavation of the site. In 2002 they addressed these omissions as follows:
In addition, there have been numerous reports from residents of structural damage to their homes stemming from the blasting; especially residents of The Grande whose property backs up to the quarry site. Tilcon has stated that blasting is regulated by the State of New Jersey, and they are in compliance. Nationwide there is a lot of debate as to the liability of damage caused by vibrations from blasting. Some feel that as long as the those blasting are in compliance with state regulations, they should not be liable. Others feel that compliance does not absolve liability, however, in this case the issue becomes proving the source of the damage. Requiring quarries to provide insurance for collateral damage to nearby residences and businesses is not without precedent, but how such protections can be implemented in Riverdale with take considerable research on the part of the Council.
Finally there is the issue of dust mitigation. This is a subject that has come up with every past license renewal and in each case promises have been made by Tilcon to deal with it. Why then, are we talking about it again? To answer this the Council will need to look at what measures are in place and determine whether they are adequate or if Tilcon is simply not complying to with the plans that were outlined during past negotiations.
Clearly our town’s leadership has a lot of work to do and the formation of this special committee is a step in the right direction. Of course EOR will stay on top of all developments but we would like your help as well. If you have information or expertise with respect to any of the issues addressed above, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All communication will be kept confidential.