Aggregate Industries forced to close quarry

(Ma) — PEABODY – Years of discussion and debate about the future of AggregateIndustries’ quarry in West Peabody culminated last night with the CityCouncil’s approval of a closure plan.

“It took seven years to get to this point, and I thinkit’s an amazing step,” said Ward 6 Councilor Barry Sinewitz, chairmanof Peabody’s Quarry Closure Committee.

Aggregate is not obligated to close its quarry anytime soon. But acondition of the company’s city-issued special permit requires it todetail how the land will be left when it is finished with it.

Councilors, heeding the input of quarry neighbors onthe Closure Committee, endorsed a plan that lets Aggregate continue toblast in its existing hole, now 135 feet deep, until reaching 410 feet.It keeps an asphalt plant in its current location on the company’s 110acres.

“I do believe that this is the right plan for the cityand this neighborhood,” said Councilor-at-large Ted Bettencourt, also acommittee member.

Last fall, Aggregate presented city officials with three possible closure alternatives.

The two rejected options involved Aggregate extending the quarry’s rim,blasting to 245 feet and either relocating the asphalt plant to adifferent spot on the company’s property or finding an off-sitelocation.

“We’re very pleased,” Scott Colby, Aggregate’s environmental andestates manager, said after the vote. “We were very happy with thecooperative effort.”

Just how long it might take Aggregate to blast to themaximum depth is a moving target that depends largely on the economyand the demand for stone, Colby said. But he estimated it would take atleast 20 years to exhaust the quarry’s supply.

The hole will eventually be filled with water or clean soil or a combination of the two.

City officials and quarry neighbors chose not to indicate a preferencein the plan, opting to delay that decision until a date closer to theend of the quarry’s life cycle. Councilors did agree to review the planevery five years.

Aggregate has previously expressed interest in expanding the quarry’s rim and blasting in new locations.

It’s still possible the company might pursue expansion, though no decision has been made, Colby said.

To expand, the company would have to get the council’sapproval to amend its special permit and, if successful, the closureplan would have to be altered to reflect the changes.

Aggregate last night promised to continue negotiating with the city toreach an agreement that would ensure the company dedicates money towardcovering closure costs.

The company also agreed to consider adjusting its pumping of water fromthe quarry to mitigate flooding in the surrounding neighborhood duringheavy rainstorms.

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