A retired geologist expressed his concerns to the New Hanover Zoning Hearing Board that contaminated water near a proposed quarry would be discharged before it can be properly treated.
Ross Snook, a township resident, testified last week during the Gibraltar Rock IV zoning hearing that the Bucks County company seeking to mine 82 acres in the township has not presented a secondary plan to treat any chemicals in the water.
A majority of the residents who addressed the board expressed their concerns about an underground plume of contaminants, discovered less than 1/8 of a mile from the location of the proposed Gibraltar Rock I and II quarry pits.
"In essence, it will be discharged," Snook said of the plume. He testified under oath during the Jan. 5 hearing that the Silvi Group plans on discharging 400,000 gallons of water per day. "[The mining company] would not be able to catch it in time order to contain the chemicals."
According to Snook, the release of groundwater contaminated with trichloroethylene, 1.4-dioxane and other volatile chemicals – which could be facilitated by the mining operation – could adversely impact the ground water for area residents.
Under that circumstance, Snook said, "I would not let my grandchildren drink water out of my well."
The Silvi Group's Gibraltar Rock, a concrete business, seeks a special exception to the municipality's zoning use regulation to quarry on a parcel north of Hoffmansville Road.
The company has already been granted a special exception from the board to mine 163 acres between Church Road, Route 663 and Route 73. That application requires land development approval from the township's board of supervisors.
James Shelly, the retired pastor of St. Luke's Lutheran Church, suggested that quarrying not be allowed until the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection completes its cleanup of the former Good Oil property, which is located near the proposed quarry.
He is concerned that allowing mining before the site is remediated would likely lead to the poisoning of the private wells that serve New Hanover, Upper Frederick Elementary, the Frederick Mennonite Community and the New Hanover Township Community Center.
"It's so obvious to me," Shelly said. "There is a great chance of contamination if we allow quarrying before the site is cleaned up. I can envision a tragedy here similar to what occurred in Flint, Mich. if we are not careful."
Lisa Nolan, a resident of Big Road, said she discovered an oily substance in a stream on her property. Although she said that a DEP representative told her the substance did not originate on the Good Oil property, Nolan expressed concerns that her stream might collect contaminated runoff once quarrying begins and the plume is not remediated.
Jesse Mayer of Woodlark Circle told the board that a quarry would negatively impact property values.
"You should be very, very careful about placing us under that spotlight," she said.
The hearing is scheduled to resume Thursday, Feb. 2.