Friday, October 13, 2006

The Nuts and Bolts of Sand and Gravel

I attended the Public Hearing on the 10th and was amazed at the exceptionally courteous behavior of fellow opponents of the Pit. Not that we aren't well behaved or civilized. But some of the items in the proposal and the analyses were so outrageous it was surprising that they did not cause more of an outcry (See the previous post for examples). Our discipline is our strength. Let's keep it up for the next session on the 25th.

Some of the details of a sand and gravel operation should be emphasized:

NOISE: From the moment operations begin in the morning until they end at night, one or more pieces of heavy machinery will crank up the diesel engines which will run all day long. This will create a constant drone and roar. In addition to this, a truck entering the property every six minutes will create its own diesel roar and at any given time there will be more than one truck on the site. The combination of trucks arriving, idling their engines, maneuvering, and leaving fully loaded will be added to the background din of the excavating equipment. Even this will be surpassed by the crash of gravel falling down onto the truck beds as they are loaded.

The fact that the developers requested the right to subject the neighborhood to this hellish roar from 7am to 5 pm six days a week and slightly fewer hours on Sundays shows their utter lack of regard for the living conditions of the surrounding community. The word "contempt" comes to mind. If they have no respect for us, can we trust anything they say or promise? Can we possibly believe in their Garden of Eden post-excavation artist's renditions when they are asking to drag us through hell to get there?

DIESEL, DIRT, & DUST: In addition to the particulate air pollution of several diesel engines running simultaneously can be added the constant cloud of dust kicked up by their tires as they move around the property. The developers like to talk about "clean, dust free sand."

Yeah, right. Just drive by the Tilcon facility on Route 17 in Durham and see the thick coat of dust on all of the surrounding vegetation if you need further convincing that the dustless gravel pit is a myth. But hey, green leaves are so pre-industrial, right?

AFTERMATH: After the developers take their $30 million and run, we will be left with four water filled pits with steep slopes not suitable for recreation and in fact outright dangerous. (Look closely at the angle of the banks of the gravel pit on the right. Do you want your small children playing around this?) Whether or not these "ponds" will be stagnant depends on their total volume versus the volume of inflowing water. Clearly there is not a large volume spring to replenish them and they will essentially become large breeding pools for mosquitoes, especially during the dry summer months. This means that for those who have not been driven out of the neighborhood by two years of noise and pollution the roar of diesel will be replaced by the buzz of unfriendly insects every time they step outside. (Unless you want to spray with insecticide all of the time.)

But we aren't going to let that happen! Our commitment, discipline, and passion will prevail. Be prepared for another long night on the 25th. Bring a friend. Bring popcorn! Let's make the next hearing a celebration our newfound neighborhood solidarity!

Phil Brewer, MD
Stopthepit Blogmeister


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