Frontier misleads in recent letter about proposed quarry in Shelby
This letter is in response to Andina Barone’s letter to the editor posted on Oct. 9, 2017, regarding Frontier Stone’s proposed stone quarry in the Town of Shelby. Miss Barone would be wise to take the time to review the nearly 12-year history of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) and Draft Environmental Impact statement (DEIS) on this project before she attempts to offer facts on the subject.
Mr. Capurso may not have provided proof of ample existing stone quarries to satisfy future need, but Citizens for Shelby Preservation, Vice President, Ken Printup did, 11 years ago when he polled the quarries in the area. There are 15 quarries and permitted gravel pits within a 25-mile radius of the proposed site. They provided proof of how many years’ worth of aggregate they had available for future use. This was provided to the DEC.
Ms. Barone asked for proof that the proposed quarry would undermine the existing quarries. The fact is, dollars spent in the proposed quarry would not be spent in one of the existing quarries. That’s Economics-101.
Ms. Barone says Frontier Stone is not a local employer. This is true. Frontier Stone previously owned the Niagara Falls quarry, the Lockport quarry and the Gasport quarry, and they subsequently sold each one to LaFarge. Lafarge is one of the largest aggregate companies in the world, one that could literally bankrupt a town in litigation if they were sued for residential or environmental damage. One has to wonder then, do they really want to be a local employer? Or is their intention to open this quarry and then sell it to Lafarge?
Ms. Barone contends that the DEC protects the environment. The DEC mining permits office, responsible for issuing the permit, is not tasked with protecting the environment. They are only tasked with reviewing and approving mining permits. The fact is, even the SEQR review does not protect the environment. It does not contain any limits to the amount of damage that the quarry can do in order to prevent the issuance of the permit.
There is no doubt that the quarry will be noisy, dusty, and disrupt the quiet residential neighborhood and the refuge. No doubt it will negatively affect the residents of the surrounding community with weekly blasting and truck traffic. But the SEQR review and the DEIS don’t put a limit on any of this. All Frontier has to say to receive permit approval is they will mitigate to the best of their ability any damage that they cause. That’s it. It doesn’t matter if they drain the refuge. It doesn’t matter if they flood the refuge. It doesn’t matter if their blasting ruins the attraction of nanotechnology to the STAMP project. It doesn’t matter if the millions of gallons of salt and sulphur water they dump into Oak Orchard Creek every day affect Salmon fishing. As long as they say they will limit their damage to the best of their ability, the permit is issued.
Ms. Barone claims that Frontier coordinated with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service on the quarry. I would ask that she provide proof of this claim. The fact is, Refuge staff did not in any way, at any time, endorse the quarry. Frontier sent a letter to the USFWS telling them they would provide water to the refuge in times of drought. That’s not coordination. The refuge never asked for this, and doesn’t need it. The refuge operates on seasonal and annual variation. It has for over 50 years.
In her letter, Ms. Barone targeted hunters because of audible and visual disturbances to the refuge. At the same time, she ignored Frontier’s proposed weekly blasting and 30 dump truck passes per hour, during the breeding and nesting seasons. This is hypocritical at best. The fact is, hunting season does not interfere with the endangered species in the refuge, nor does it interfere with breeding and nesting seasons. Refuge management knows how to regulate the use of refuge lands to protect the sensitive species that live there, while providing recreation for hunters. More importantly, hunters in Orleans County have a far greater respect for the refuge than Frontier Stone ever will.
Ms. Barone sites the test blast that was conducted by Vibratech as proof that the proposed quarry would not negatively affect the STAMP project. The fact is, Vibratech is another company solely in business to get mine operations approved. This statement is from their company website, “Our instrumentation, 60 years of experience and professional qualifications will help your operation get past the rough spots.” The danger to the STAMP project was another one of Frontier’s rough spots.
Ms. Barone stated that there are no other existing water filled quarries that are too dangerous and off limits to the public. This might be true right at this moment, but she must have missed the report by the EPA in 2011, Lafarge North America Inc. Clean Water Act Settlement, citing LaFarge with 21 violations including those at the Lafarge Gasport quarry, sold to them by Frontier Stone. And I quote:
Lafarge violated CWA Sections 301, 308, and 402 at 21 facilities in five states, when it failed to obtain and/or comply with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The alleged violations include the following:
- Discharges of wastewater without a permit
- Violations of NPDES effluent limits
- Failure to apply for and have coverage under the “Multi-Sector General Permit for Stormwater Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity” (MSGP)
- Unpermitted discharges of stormwater
- Failure to implement conditions of the MSGP at certain facilities
Ms. Barone says there is no story here. What happens when Frontier sells the proposed quarry to LaFarge just like they did with all of the other quarries they have owned? There’s your story.
Ms. Barone’s job as an image consultant to her client, Frontier Stone, is to improve their image in the community and put a positive spin on the proposed quarry. She has also done consulting work for the Town of Shelby. Her company, Mindful Media, still maintains the Town’s website. This is certainly a conflict of interest that should be addressed by the Town Board. But no matter who her clients are, she needs to do some research before trying to discredit someone publicly with such limited knowledge of the subject. I believe that undermining Mr. Capurso’s campaign was the goal of her letter, but in doing so, she exposed just how badly misinformed she is about the quarry.
I, along with many members of this community, members of Citizens for Shelby Preservation, have followed this project very closely for nearly 12 years. We have attended every meeting and public hearing on the subject, reviewed every page of the DEIS, researched the process of permit issuance. We knew from the very beginning that we were not going to stop the DEC from issuing the permit to Frontier. But we were sure that given time, the Town Board would review the public surveys completed early in the process and take the steps necessary to protect the community and the Refuge.
Frontier Stone has recently filed an article 78 against the Town of Shelby, challenging the Overlay Protection Zone the town recently enacted around the refuge. This protection zone forbids mining on this land. Frontier is also not allowed to operate the quarry on this land without first obtaining a zoning change to have the land next to the Refuge re-zoned Industrial. They must also obtain a Mining Overlay permit from the town.
Now, more than ever, it is critical that we have a Town Board unified in the goal of protecting the residents of the town and the Wildlife Refuge. It is for this reason, and several others, that I am running as a write-in candidate for Shelby Town Supervisor.
President – Citizens for Shelby Preservation
Write-in Candidate for Shelby Town Supervisor