Writer urges residents to speak out against proposed quarry in Shelby

Posted 29 April 2014 at 12:00 am

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter to urge my fellow members of the community to attend the very important meeting this Wednesday, April 30, at the Shelby Town Hall on Salt Works Road at 6 p.m.

There, community members have the right to voice their position regarding Frontier Stone’s proposed quarry on Fletcher Chapel Road and Sour Springs Road in Shelby, right on the outskirts of the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge. We will be speaking with a judge who represents the Department of Environmental Conservation, and it is our opportunity to remind the DEC of their duty to the land, water, and wildlife they have dedicated their livelihoods to protecting.

Frontier Stone has submitted what is called a DEIS: a draft environmental impact statement seeking a mining permit.  They’ve worked long and hard on it: multiple versions have been submitted since 2006, all of which were originally returned to Frontier as incomplete or unsatisfactory.

Well, this latest version, packed with reports, charts, maps, graphs, and appendixes is done. It was written by Continental Placers, Inc. of Albany; technical consultants and lawyers from Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Phoenix, New York are also cited. I’m sure it cost a pretty penny.  It’s over 1,000 pages long, and it is a doozy.  I know, because I spent the weekend reading the whole thing, appendixes and all.  (The link to Continental is here. Click on the first application listed, beginning with Volume One.)

There were so many things I read that were disturbing and problematic. Perhaps most troubling of all, in the hundreds and hundreds of pages, was what WASN’T there.  The proposed quarry is barely two miles from the walking trail of Swallow Hollow on East Shelby Road in Shelby, yet nowhere in their so-called environmental impact statement do they bother to refer to it. I know many of my friends and neighbors in Orleans County and beyond place great value in the peace and tranquility of Swallow Hollow. Now imagine what it will be like with 400-plus truck traffic, mining equipment, blasting and vibrations occurring just two miles west of it.

Now imagine the impact on the water, Western New York’s greatest natural commodity. Mining operations, especially quarries, require the draining and dumping of all the water that comes up. How do you think that will impact the nearby ponds and wells? The Oak Orchard watershed? The Oak Orchard River?

There’s more. According to the DEIS submitted by Frontier, there will supposedly be multiple economic benefits to the quarry; namely, local tax dollars and perhaps 15 jobs. What about the upcoming STAMP project with its possibility of 10,000 high tech jobs in nanotechnology?  The Judge Road/Oakfield site in Genesee County was selected specifically for its high water tables and lack of seismic activitythe perfect setting for delicate technology production.

But how attractive will that site be when blasting and pumping is going on three seasons out of four just a few miles north? Anyone who lives near an existing quarry will tell you that their windows shake on a very regular basis, and that their water has been impacted by the close proximity to the quarry pumping. Genesee County officials have already admitted that this is worth examining.

The proximity to Swallow Hollow, the nearby ponds and wells and river, and the threat to the STAMP project are just a few aspects to consider. I have not even mentioned the very real threat to the wildlife and endangered species protected by the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.

We must join together as a community to tell them unequivocally what a terrible idea this project is, and why the DEC must in good conscience deny the permit.  The Refuge belongs to all of us.  And we must be its most diligent guardians.

Wednesday’s forecast is dire: rain, hail, and sleet. But come “hail” or high water, we must prevail and make our message known.  See you in Shelby at six, neighbors.


Karen Jones