The Brandy Hill and Seaham Action Group committee accepted an invitation to inspect the Brandy Hill quarry on the 20th October. We were quite impressed by a very well organised business which prided itself on its environmental practices.
As residents we may not always agree with management that all our concerns are addressed. Dust management and blasting vibration have been mentioned by Brandy Hill and Seaham residents, so the committee members were interested to find out how these concerns were actually addressed. A watering truck operates each day continuously throughout the site from 5am. If the wind is excessive the plant shuts down but watering continues to minimise dust naturally occurring on site. The water is sourced from dams on-site. In 30 years the dams have not run dry although they did come close about 2 years ago during a particularly dry spell.
Blasting is carried out about once a week between 11am and 1pm to minimise the effect on the community. The quarry no longer undertakes large blasts. Smaller blasting is considered less intrusive for local residents. Blasting results in rock drops of about 30,000 tonnes.
If the quarry expansion is approved it would have to comply with current regulations which are certainly more rigorous than those of 1983. The quarry manager, Michael Benich, has promised that all environmental complaints are taken seriously and investigated by both his company and the EPA.
Other Interesting Facts.
Older parts of the quarry site are already being rehabilitated with animal habitat being restored and plantings undertaken.
The existing operating licence for the quarry does not allow for any water run-off to flow directly into the creek. All water is diverted into the dam system for settling of sediment and for reuse for dust suppression. If water does find its way into the creek it must be reported to the EPA.
An invitation has been extended to the community to visit the quarry site. If you would like to take up this offer, leave a message with me and I will co-ordinate a time suitable for the majority of those interested.