Seeing is believing, and Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz won’t be satisfied with the annual report from Aggregate Industries in West Peabody, MA, until he visits the site and sees with his own eyes that the quarry operation is complying with city regulations.
For that matter, he plans to take representatives from the Board of Health and the Conservation Commission with him, reports the Salem News.
Rob Robinson, operations manager of the West Peabody facility, quickly agreed. “A site visit is fine with us,” he said. “We trying to do anything we can to get this resolved.”
The Aggregate annual report was presented to a committee of the whole of the City Council in what was a brief and subdued meeting last Thursday evening. The board will now wait for the site visit before approving it. The annual report, at more than 100 pages, documented 10 blasts at the quarry in 2015 and said the depth of water in the quarry pond is being kept at levels designed to avoid runoff that would contaminate the nearby Ipswich River, a source of city drinking water.
Aggregate representative Lisa Young told the council that water is diverted into the quarry pond, where sediment is allowed to settle before the water can be pumped out.
As to the report’s figures on the depth of water and sediment — the sediment must be dredged at some point to avoid runoff — Sinewitz complained, “It’s kind of amazing that last year’s report has the same numbers. … I hope that someone is not just throwing numbers out.” A site visit, he said, could ease such concerns.
Regarding the numbers, Young responded, “I certainly will check on it.”
When asked how often water samples are taken, Aggregate’s Jennifer Grawin replied, “What’s required in the permit is what we do.”
Sinewitz also criticized the report for stating there were no complaints about blasting, pointing out that while there were no damage complaints, “there were complaints related to blasting.” Presumably that included noise.
The councilor also noted that Aggregate had been fined $300 three times over the past year for operating during the wrong hours. The fines, he noted, are being disputed in court.
Aggregate has long been a source of consternation for its neighbors. The business quarries stone and stockpiles discarded asphalt, as well as blasting on a regular basis. In addition, it sends huge trucks laden with stone and other materials through the adjacent streets.
Only two neighbors attended the session Thursday night. But resident Ken Banville suggested the reason is frustration. Such meeting “don’t go anywhere,” he said. “They don’t do anything.” What’s more, “Most people don’t know about it.”
Banville, who once had rocks from a blast land in his yard, joined Sinewitz in questioning the levels recorded for water and sediment. “You’re not going to tell me it was exactly the same as it was last year,” he said.
Neighbor Bob Callahan, who refers to the company as “Aggravate Me Industries,” suggested that 10 blasts in a year is a small number and is indicative of a sluggish economy with little call for the granite, rocks and salvaged asphalt that Aggregate sells.
He expects the business, and the problems it creates for its neighbors, to pick up in the coming months.
“We have to stay on top of it to make sure everything is done right,” Sinewitz said.