Former Rhode Island Copar quarry files for bankruptcy

The saga of the Copar/Armetta quarry in Rhode Island  is winding down as the quarry company liquidates its remaining assets under federal bankruptcy rules.

But local residents are concerned over remaining environmental issues, especially dust, from the now disused site.

The company’s operation in Bradford has been a thorn in the side of its neighbors, drawing town officials into a dispute that has gone on for nearly five years.

Armetta LLC voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on August 19 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Haven. Although many Chapter 11 petitions result in company reorganization, Rebecca Adams, a lawyer for Armetta LLC, said the company is not reorganizing but instead is liquidating its assets.
The bankruptcy filing came about a week after the company acknowledged that it had laid off a number of workers and substantially reduced operations.

In August 2012, the town of Westerly issued a cease-and-desist order against Copar/Armetta, claiming the company “willfully violated” local policies and created a nuisance to neighbors. A site inspection by the town found the company had failed to install measures to control stone dust.

Last year, Copar/Armetta agreed to pay an $80,000 fine and correct violations identified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Charles Marsh, a vocal opponent of the quarry operation, is concerned the property will morph into a hazardous waste site, largely because he fears a lack of oversight at both the local and state level.
“In nearly five years, our elected leaders have done nearly nothing,” Clayton said. “A strip-mining operation was allowed in people’s backyards because our leaders looked the other way.”

Armetta LLC’s lawyer told The Westerly Sun late last month that employees would remain on the property, which the business leased from the Comolli family, for a time to secure the company’s equipment.

But what happens after all the equipment is moved out and the front gate locked?

It’s likely the quarry will remain a source of frustration for residents, whose complaints about dust, heavy metal, runoff and noise pollution during the past five years have largely fallen on deaf ears.

George Comolli, speaking for the family that owns the property, recently told ecoRI News that the quarry’s dust piles are being watered daily. He said the amount of crystalline silica on the property is far below state and federal limits.

After the Copar/Armetta case winds its way through bankruptcy court, Comolli said the family would like to find an operator to wash the dust into sand or sell it as an aggregate. Once the property is devoid of dust piles, he said the family would like to bring in a “credible” and “reputable” operator to run a not-so-big quarrying operation.

Comolli also said there have been offers to buy the property and turn it into a landfill.


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