Mining ban hits New Hope quarry

New Hope Crushed Stone & Lime has been forced to stop operating by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection officials after the company missed a key deadline July 1 for catch-up reclamation work at its Solebury quarry, near New Hope, Pennsylvania.

Workers are banned from mining at the quarry on Phillips Mill Road until an 18,722-cubic yard shortfall in shifted backfill materials “is eliminated to the DEP’s satisfaction,” according to an inspection the department released Monday, the Intelligencer reports.

Quarry workers shifted 39,177 cubic yards to catch up in June — over three times higher than their previous monthly high of 12,582. But the quarry had not completed any catch-up reclamation at all over a three-month period between March and May, said DEP spokeswoman Virginia Cain. Quarry officials had “reporting issues” with their May reclamation progress, she said, and when the DEP investigated, they found that the previous reported figures for those months were incorrect.

“At some point, we just didn’t feel like the numbers made sense,” Cain said. “The adjustment was, unfortunately, a downward adjustment. (Quarry workers) hadn’t done as much as we had originally thought.”

A June DEP update puts the quarry at 64,033 — or 83.3% — of the 76,868 cubic yards of catch-up reclamation it needs to complete, and at 219,031 — or 35.2% — of the 621,392 cubic yards it must reclaim total.

Weeks before missing the July 1 deadline, New Hope Crushed Stone executives listed factors that they said made it “impossible to meet the requirements stated” in a June 16 letter to DEP heads.

Those factors exacerbated a series of challenging developments the quarry has experienced since 2014.  That year, the state Environmental Hearing Board deemed the quarry a “public nuisance” for opening nearby sinkholes with its excavation. In January 2016, the DEP mandated New Hope Crushed Stone to reclaim the quarry by March 2019, which would convert the quarry into a lake fed by Primrose Creek. And when workers fell behind in July 2016, the DEP fined the quarry $14,845 and in August imposed nine months of catch-up reclamation, ending July 1.

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