Leadership at Tilcon came to Riverdale’s October 26th Council Meeting to present their progress in the last year. This was the first of 5 annual reviews that Tilcon voluntarily agreed to participate in at their 6-year license renewal hearing in 2015. For more information on how this came about, please read Riverdale Quarry Committee Reports Progress.
Though residents who attended were generally pleased with the progress, the obvious question was voiced by a member of the audience, “Why did it take so long to address these issues?”
Josh Benson, Vice President at Tilcon New York, was quick to point out that we have new players at both Tilcon and the Borough that have brought about the change. Mayor Paul Carelli added that it is the intent the new administration to engage corporations and other entities that are entwined in our community in a professional manner. “When you treat people with respect they are more likely to cooperate.” He went on to say the lack of this philosophy had caused a number of issues to remain unresolved for years. “When you have open communication, things tend to get done.”
Councilman Dave Desai also spoke up “I’ll sum it up in one word, complacency, both on the part of the Borough and Tilcon. But I promise you we will not be complacent going forward. If you noticed on the agenda it refers to this as Tilcon’s Annual Review. Tilcon voluntarily agreed to come back before us each year to allow the residents to voice their opinions about how they are doing. Knowing this will ensure that we will not be complacent again.” See a clip of Councilman Desai’s News 12 video below.
During the first 12 years of Tilcon’s operating agreement, the entire duration of former Mayor William Budesheim’s term, complaints from residents went unresolved. Seeing once again little or no progress in the 2015 hearings, then resident Desai recommended the formation of a special committee. Councilman Vinnie Pellegrini gained the support of the Council to form the Quarry Committee. This committee, consisting of both Council members and residents, met with Tilcon on multiple occasions to define goals that would improve the relationship between the quarry and the residents of Riverdale. Today the committee, headed by now Councilman Desai, continues to address issues including blasting, dust mitigation and RAP (Recycled Asphalt Paving) storage. Below is a summary of the progress that Tilcon and the Quarry Committee have made in the last year.
The monitoring of blast levels was a big concern raised by those who live nearest the quarry. Tilcon has establish a opt-in notification system to advise residents of pending blasts. They also field phone calls from residents concerned about specific blasts or wanting to learn more about the process for determining whether or not damage to their property could be the result of blasting operations. This year they added 2 more seismic monitoring devices now totaling 5 in areas neighboring the quarry. Quarterly blasting reports showing both ground vibration and air over-pressure readings, are now available on the Riverdale Borough Website.
Dust mitigation and street sweeping we also major concerns. At the urging of the Quarry Committee, they have increase the scope and frequency of street sweeping in Riverdale. They have also added a new street sweeper to their fleet for a total of 3 between the Riverdale and Pompton Lakes quarries. Following through on promises made, Tilcon has added additional in-process dust control measures including a Kentucky Wind Sock which shields crushed materials from wind as it falls from their conveyors to the storage piles and Dust Bosses that provide a steady mist on working piles to further suppress dust. Residents historically most affected have noted reduced dust levels, even in a particularly dry year as we have had.
At the review, Councilman Desai expressed his satisfaction with the newly implemented controls but assured residents that there work was not complete. Tilcon’s Josh Benson discussed the recent implementation of monitoring devices which record dust levels and wind direction on a continuous basis. Earlier this year, the Quarry Committee identified the necessary equipment and informed Tilcon of their intent to begin the study at the expense of the Borough. Tilcon offered to fully fund the project and both the Committee and Tilcon are now receiving regular reports for analysis. Their are 2 main objectives of the study; to learn more about what conditions cause elevated levels of dust, and to establish a baseline for Phase II of their joint dust mitigation plan. Phase II involves the use of next-generation, eco-friendly, water-additives on their stock piles and road ways. These new glycerin-based materials, such as DustOut™, are non-toxic, more effective, longer-lasting and cheaper than the more common calcium chloride additives. When applied to dormant stockpiles, they create a crusty shell that virtually eliminates wind-borne dust. Last winter, low precipitation lead to higher levels of dust while the quarry was closed for the season. If we experience a lack of snow cover again, Tilcon vows to periodically apply these dust-controlling agents to their stock piles.
Another big concern for the Borough was the 375,000 cubic yards of RAP that was being stored in the quarry. To give you an idea of how much material this is, it would take over 30,000 standard-size dump trucks to haul it out. The fear was, if Tilcon was to pull out for any reason, the cost to dispose of would be astronomical. The RAP was spread out across 2 storage piles and a working pile located by the asphalt plant. Tilcon promised that we would see a rapid decline in the amount of RAP being stored in Riverdale and set a goal of 100,000 cubic yards by the end of 2016. As of the date of this article, both storage piles have been eliminated and the working pile is down to approximately 73,000 cubic yards. There are no plans to build rebuild the storage piles and the working pile will likely not exceed 100,000 cubic yards; an optimal size for operation of the asphalt plant.
Tilcon will be back in front of the residents of Riverdale next November. Until then, Eye On Riverdale will continue to track the progress of Tilcon and the Quarry Committee and will report the findings of their dust study as soon as they are made available.