Massachusetts State Sen Mike Rush says Massachusetts lacks a statewide policy regarding the reclamation of quarries.
He has put forth new legislation which will create a set of rules regarding the process.
Currently there are no state laws governing the quarry reclamation in Massachusetts, Rush said during a meeting of the West Roxbury Civic and Improvement Association in West Roxbury.
Rush was motivated to create the legislation based on concerns from West Roxbury residents about the type of soil that will be used to fill in, or reclaim, West Roxbury Crushed Stone’s quarry off of Grove Street.
The company has wanted to begin the process of reclaiming its quarry with soil from area construction projects for at least a year.
Local residents raised their concerns about the soil and other issues to quarry representatives in meetings held since 2014, and some never felt they received complete information.
“I kind of feel like I’m dealing with a 7-year-old,” said 47-year West Roxbury resident Sheila Ainsworth. “They are changing their story every single time.”
In a previous meeting last month, quarry representatives said that they would use Category S-1 soil to fill the quarry. According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s website (MassDEP), “activities commonly associated with the S-1 soil category include residential use, parks, playgrounds and schoolyards.”
Rush is taking a statewide approach to the reclamation problem that might eliminate the need for a contentious back-and-forth between quarries and local residents, however. “Often when issues arise, we meet and talk to other legislators, and see if others have similar issues in the commonwealth,” Rush said.
“What’s the state doing when quarries are no longer in use?” he added. “What’s the next step?”
The bill, entitled Bill S. 462, “An Act Relative to the Safety and Reclamation of Quarries” and available on the Massachusetts Legislature’s website, is currently under review by the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture. A public hearing on the bill will be scheduled “sooner than later,” according to Rush.
The bill creates a permitting process regarding quarry reclamation and requires the permit holder to make sure that “all measures reasonable shall be taken to eliminate damages to members of the public, their real and personal property, public roads, streams and all other public property from soil erosion, water and air pollution and hazards dangerous to life and property.”