By Beth David, Editor
The town of Acushnet issued three cease & desist orders to PJ Keating, which should have shut down their operations, including the quarry at their South Main Street facility. However, the company has refused to stop operations, forcing the town to explore further actions against PJK.
On August 7, the New Bedford District Court granted the town an administrative search warrant to conduct an inspection at PJK, according to letters to the company from the Board of Health and the Soil Board. During that inspection, town officials, including the health agent, conservation agent, and soil board and selectboard members, found more than 20 violations at the quarry, the hot mix asphalt plant, and the stone-crushing and stockpile areas; and lists 20 actions needed for compliance.
On August 10, the Board of Health issued a cease & desist order; on August 12, the Selectboard, which issues the solid removal permit, issued a C&D; and on August 13, the Conservation Commission issued one due to violations of the Wetlands Protection Act.
Also on August 12, Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher issued an order stopping the company from blasting. The blasting permit is issued monthly by the Fire Chief. His C&D order requires no blasting until the concerns listed in the town’s other C&D orders are addressed.
“Despite these orders, PJ Keating continues to operate its South Main Street facility,” wrote Chief Gallagher in a statement on August 13. “These actions were not taken lightly. They impact a longstanding Acushnet business with deep ties to the community. It is our collective belief that having longstanding ties does not result in a removal from responsibility. PJ Keating has a right to operate within the restrictions placed on them by federal, state and local regulations. The regulations are put in place to protect the health, safety and environment of our residents. The Town of Acushnet expects them to play by the rules, plain and simple.
“It is our hope that these orders can be lifted as quickly as possible.”
In a phone interview, Chief Gallagher said that the town and the company have had a few exchanges about the violations and the company’s refusal to comply with the cease & desist orders.
“The town expected their orders to be complied with,” said Chief Gallagher. “Now, other options, including possible litigation need to be explored.”
He said the health agent, conservation commission, town administrator and town counsel are all engaged in discussions to that end.
Violations include: Mining waste (silt) being dumped and stockpiled in the rear of the property and the amount of waste is excessive and causing nuisance conditions of Fugitive Dust, Sedimentation, and Erosion; the side slopes of the mining waste/silt are not in compliance with best management practices (BMP) and are contributing to erosion and sedimentation impacts to stormwater and the environment; several items related to inadequate erosion controls; lack of efforts at controlling dust causing “nuisance conditions and serious dust violations”; large quantities of asphalt roofing shingles dumped on the property with no evidence that they have been tested for asbestos, were not shredded as required if more than 25,000 tons, and shingles are supposed to be covered and wetted down to prevent dust; shingles were also store too close to the property line; concrete washout off the top of a stockpile of mixed construction debris is in violation of Environmental Protection Agency regulations; the concrete washout impacted habitat for an endangered species (NHESP-PH364) by eroding into the habitat and beyond; the concrete stockpile was not utilizing any best practices for preventing fugitive dust, erosion and sedimentation, “This uncontrolled erosion impacted the adjoining habitat for endangered species (NHESP-PH364) and causes nuisance dust violations and impacts to neighbors.”
Inspectors also observed a large industrial transformer that had been dumped in the wooded area of the stockpiled waste; inspectors were unable to determine if this transformer contained hazardous waste (PCB’s) or was leaking.
Inspectors also found a number of violations in the stone crushing and stockpile areas, including: stone stockpile volumes in violation of the Particulate Matter Control Plan (PMCP) submitted by P.J. Keating to the Acushnet Board of Health; stone stockpile exceeded 30,000 ton limit allowing dust to travel beyond the property line affecting the neighborhood; no water canons, even though the PMCP requires two to prevent dust; large quantities of built up dust and sediment even though the PMCP requires them to be regularly removed; widespread silt and dust build up on the paved surfaces that should be regularly cleaned up to prevent stormwater pollution and impacts to the Acushnet River and dust impacts to the neighborhood; lack of erosion controls throughout the site including no perimeter erosion controls protecting stormwater from contaminated runoff from any stockpile on the site.
The town ordered the company to take 20 actions, including: file a stockpiling plan showing the location of all stockpiles of finished materials for approval by the Board of Health; proposed size in tons and maximum height of stockpiles for approval by the BOH; location and type of equipment to fight fugitive dust; retain a certified erosion control specialist to develop and implement a stormwater control program; develop plan to properly dispose of or recycle mining waste/silt piles; immediately dispose of asphalt shingles; develop a plan to perform air monitoring; provide yearly certificates of compliance for permits; provide asbestos testing records, material shipping logs, weight slips, material usage, and records of rejected loads, of asphalt shingles for 2019 and 2020; provide detailed operating plan showing phases operation of quarry activities, including areas of blasting; Provide a plan to remove all sand and sediment from the sidewalks along South Main Street within 2500 feet of 72 South Main Street in both directions; install stormwater drains at the entrance and exit to prevent stormwater exiting the site.
“We just want them to play by the rules,” said Chief Gallagher.
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