April 22, 1995 in Washington Voices

Gravel Mine’s Neighbors Make Noise Of Their Own Residents Say Company Operates Beyond Approved Schedule; Water District Official Fears Contamination Threat

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A man who lives across the road from a gravel pit near Moab Junction said Thursday that heavy equipment at the mine roused his infant son from sleep one recent day.

At 5:10 a.m.

“It wasn’t pleasant,” he said at a community meeting held at the Tri-Community Grange near Newman Lake.

More than 20 people attended the meeting, which was called to discuss the recent opening of the gravel mine owned by the Central Pre-Mix Concrete Co.

Many of the people in attendance complained about noise and dust coming from the mine.

Company official Mark Murphy assured them that things would get better.

The pit is located on 300 acres between Starr and Idaho roads, just south of Trent Avenue.

Central Pre-Mix received permission to open the mine in 1980 but only began digging gravel at the site last fall.

The gravel mine was controversial when the company was seeking approval for the project.

It still is.

Several residents who live near the pit complained Thursday that the heavy equipment used to scrape for rock and the crusher that turns it into gravel generate excessive noise and dust.

They also complained that crews have violated an agreement regulating the hours of operation at the site.

Workers often start before the agreed time of 6 a.m. and sometimes work well beyond the established quitting time of 6 p.m., neighbors said.

“They were out there until 1 a.m. one night,” said Kathy McBeth, who helped organize the meeting.

Some were also afraid their property values would decline because of the mine.

“Let’s face it, nobody wants to live next to a strip mine,” McBeth said.

Murphy told the group that the noise and dust would lessen once the mine is a little deeper. The equipment will be operating 20 or more feet below ground so everything should be muted, he said.

As far as the operating hours, Pre-Mix crews should be abiding by them, Murphy said.

“If you say they’re not, I believe you,” he said. “I’ll be checking that out first thing in the morning.”

Kathy Small of the Moab Irrigation District raised a concern about possible water contamination.

Central Pre-Mix has permission from the county to dig within 10 feet of the aquifer that underlies most of the Valley and provides drinking water for most county residents.

Moab officials think that’s too close, Small said. It’s possible that contaminants could seep through that much soil into the underlying aquifer, she said.

Moab’s pumping station is right across Trent Avenue from the mine.

“Moab’s concerns are very, very, very real,” Small said. “If you have a bug and a windshield, sooner or later, the two are going to get together. We consider that pit our windshield. We don’t want to be the bug.”

Murphy didn’t have an answer to that, but said his company would do what it could to be a good neighbor.

Neighbors said they would be keeping an eye on the operation to make sure that it was.


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