Quarry plan spurs fears about dust Experts say monitoring by operator is needed

Respiratory woes possible

Developer promises to use water trucks, other control methods

June 21, 1996|By IVAN PENN | IVAN PENN,SUN STAFF

Environmental experts say the operator of a controversial proposed quarry in Jessup should be required to carefully monitor the microscopic dust generated by quarries, which has been known to trigger respiratory problems.

"Quarries can be a tremendous source of dust, including fine dust," said Glen Besa, director of environmental programs for the American Lung Association of Maryland. "Even just run-of-the-mill fine-particle dust will stress one's ability to breathe."

Richard B. Talkin, an attorney for developer Kingdon Gould Jr. -- who owns a quarry in Frederick that was cited for dust problems from 1988 to 1994 -- said water trucks and other methods would control dust at the Jessup quarry.

Talkin also said that a rock crusher on the site would be enclosed to contain dust from the crushing operation.

"We've said there won't be any dust," Talkin said. Of the kind of microscopic dust that concerns environmentalists, he said, "I'm not an expert on that."

Gould, a Washington parking lot magnate, is asking members of the Howard County Board of Appeals to approve construction of a quarry on 546 wooded acres east of Interstate 95, west of U.S. 1 and south of Route 175.

He wants to mine a crystalline rock called Baltimore gabbro that, because of its hardness and uniform texture, is most often used for road construction.

If the project is approved, Gould also plans to stockpile sand, gravel, clay and fill dirt. The operation could later house an asphalt plant.

The County Board of Appeals is expected to vote on the project -- one of its longest-running cases -- in August.

The proposal has some residents concerned about noise, truck traffic and dust.

Of particular concern to environmentalists is a byproduct of quarry and other industrial operations known as "fine dust," tiny particles about a 10th the width of a human hair.

The particles reach the lungs and can trigger respiratory problems, said Besa and Frank Skinner, environmental health director for the Howard County Health Department.

Environmentalists say fuel from diesel trucks carrying the quarry's rock, along with dust kicked up on nearby roads near the operation, could exacerbate the problem.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a Washington-based environmental group that released a study of fine dust last month, is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set tough standards for emission of such dust because of health concerns.

Maryland quarries emit about 175 tons of fine dust a year -- a small fraction of the total 438,981 total tons from all sources -- the EPA says. Howard County is listed at zero tons a year for fine dust from quarries because it has no major operations.

Gould was cited several times from 1988 to 1994 by the Maryland Department of the Environment for dust problems at his Barrick quarry in the Woodsboro area of Frederick County. The complaints included failure "to prevent particulate matter from becoming airborne."

Over the past year and a half, however, the operation has been in compliance with state regulations.

Talkin said the Barrick quarry, which doesn't contain the same kind of rock the proposed Jessup quarry would, was 100 years old when Gould took it over in 1988 and needed upgrades to meet standards.

George Krause, a spokesman for the MDE, said the Frederick violations were "basically a housekeeping situation. They're clean now."

But contrary to Talkin's argument that there would be no dust at the new quarry, Krause said that "even the best housekeeping, in some circumstances, is not going to be sufficient."

If the Jessup quarry is approved, Besa and other environmentalists say, residents should ask the MDE to monitor dust at the site and regularly record emission levels.

"I think this is something that communities should insist on," Besa said. "There are going to be people with lung disease; there are going to be people with heart disease; there are going to be children developing. All of them are at greater risk than the general public."

MDE usually monitors a site at least once a year and often two or three times, officials said.

Skinner said fine dust can be controlled but agreed with Besa that a quarry should be carefully monitored.

"In any mining operation like that ... you're going to have dust," Skinner said. "The respiratory system is a filter [for larger dust particles]. "The smaller particles end up getting up deeper into the lungs. ...

Pub Date: 6/21/96

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