An inactive Rockhill Quarry in East Rockhill should be permanently closed, according to Steve Santarsiero, a member of the Pennsylvania Senate, District 10.
A report by Bucks County Courier Times said Santarsiero is calling for the closure following a state official’s warning of health risks from asbestos at the quarry. A meeting with state health and environmental officials is to be held to protect those living in East Rockhill.
The quarry, north of the Pennridge Airport, resumed work for the first time in decades in February 2018 but was halted 10 months later following orders from the Department of Environmental Protection after asbestos was discovered.
A letter from Raphael Barishansky, deputy secretary of health preparedness and community protection at the state health department, revealed the asbestos fibre in the rock material can be released by crushing and grinding.
The document said: “There is also a paucity of data available to evaluate whether current or proposed activities on the Rockhill Quarry site are protective of the health of workers on site, adults and children who live near the Rockhill Quarry, and children who attend school near the site.”
It also recommending environmental sampling and testing at nearby schools, day cars and hospitals.
“Until data is available to determine the level of onsite and offsite asbestos or hazardous EMF (electromagnetic fields) exposure that occurs during various activities over more than one season, the risk of asbestos related illness in the stakeholder population will not be fully understood,” the letter added.
Santarsiero is quoted as saying it is “clearly time to permanently halt all activities at the quarry in the interest of the health and safety of all.
“The DOH (health department) has made it unequivocally clear that NOA (naturally occurring asbestos) found at the quarry would be detrimental to the health and well-being of residents. This is their home and they have the right to expect clean air and water for themselves and their children.
“Instead, they are living in fear. It would be completely unacceptable for mining operations to resume, given what’s been learned about the condition of the quarry.”
Jeff Sieg, a spokesman for quarry owner Hanson Aggregates, said in an statement via the email that the company “continues to work closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and remains committed to developing an operating plan that includes appropriate mitigation measures along with ongoing asbestos monitoring to protect the health and safety of our employees and the surrounding community.
“Again, it is important to note that the detectable presence of naturally occurring asbestos in the stone at Rockhill Quarry should not be equated to risk. There are no indications of unsafe levels of asbestos in the air, and no indications that employees or the surrounding community have been or are currently at risk due to the quarry.”