Report Illegal BH Quarry Operations

Please report any Brandy Hill Quarry operations that are outside 6am to 6pm Monday to Saturday.

In December, the following was received from Port Stephens Council (PSC):

“At this stage the only compliance matter that Council is looking into is the hours of operation for the existing operation.  We did receive some legal advice which goes some way to support Council’s position that was provided in a submission to the State Significant Development Application for the Quarry Expansion. 

Council has also contacted the quarry operator again to reiterate our contention that the approved hours are those provided in the Environmental Impact Statement that was part of the 1983 quarry development application.”

It is essential that the community helps PSC and BHSA expose Hanson’s lie that they already have 24/7. That repeated claim in their EIS and Response to Submissions is fundamental to their push for overnight and early morning operations for the next 30 years.

If you see any trucks leaving or entering the quarry outside of 6am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, or see or hear any operations noise from the quarry outside those times, please report the matter to PSC.

Report every occurence! Daily if needed. You can phone, but I suggest you also email. Include any photographic or other proof of location and time (not essential).

PSC contact details are:

Attention: Greg Rodwell
Development Compliance Officer PSC
Email: council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au
phone 02 4988 0468 | m 0447 446 779

If PSC can provide a history of community complaints to support our opposition to extended hours of operation, that will greatly improve our argument to NSW Planning and the Independent Planning Commission.

Your assistance will be greatly appreciated as it will help ensure that the amenity and character of our rural residential area is not trashed by this proposed development for the foreseeable future.

There is nothing further to report regarding the expansion, other than Planning has been waiting on more documentation from Hanson.

Please report all illegal quarry operations.
Neil

PS A belated Happy New Year to everyone. The fire season has consumed all spare time of the Seaham RFS brigade members and delayed this post.  All other lower Hunter brigades have been similarly involved. Thankfully, our area has been free of fires but we have been sending crews to fires on both sides of the valley. Keep safe, prepare your property, yourselves and your action plan for worst case scenarios while we all hope for the best, and rain.

Update from Hanson, September 2019

The following information has been received from Hanson, regarding the Brandy Hill Quarry Expansion Project, which I am forwarding on to CCC members:

  • The amended Response to Submissions (RTS) has been finalised and has taken into account all submissions and information requested that have been received by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) and provided to Hanson and RW Corkery.
  • Also included are responses to requests that have come directly from the planning assessment officer, as well as a complete description of refinements to the project and additional assessments undertaken.
  • Following review(s) by DPIE and its acceptance of the amended RTS (expected during the month of October); a copy will be forwarded to all CCC members.
  • Subsequently, the next CCC meeting will be scheduled after the review and at members’ earliest convenience.
  • CCC members will be kept updated on the progress of the RTS.

Regards

Lisa Andrews, Independent Chairperson & Director, Articulate Solutions Pty Ltd

 

Brandy Hill and Seaham Action Group (BHSAG) has continued to lobby the NSW Dept Planning on the key matters of hours of operation, safety along BHD, health impacts of dust and noise, and the environmental impacts on fauna, in particularly the threatened local koala population hub. We can only wait and hope that Hanson’s final Response To Submissions contains some meaningful concessions on the above.

No extension to the stay on court orders. Daracon decides to close Martins Creek quarry

Daracon had lodged an application with the NSW Land & Environment Court seeking a further 12 months extension to the Stay on orders which expired on 20 September. That would have enabled their operations to continue outside the bounds of the 1991 consent, until a new consent is granted.

Justice Duggan handed down her decision on that application on Monday 23 September 2019 and has chosen to refuse the application. In making her decision she weighed factors relating to the impacts to Daracon versus public interest and ensuring the Environmental Planning laws are upheld. Open the link below, and skip to the end for the summary.

 

Link to court decision

Apparently Daracon decided to close the quarry immediately. We expect they will continue progressing their state significant development application with the NSW Dept of Planning, in the hope of re opening the quarry under a new consent, sometime in the future. That is unlikely to occur before 2020/2021, if  consent is granted and if Daracon accept the conditions that come with a future consent.

The Herald ran an article on the events.

Newcastle Herald

 

Dungog Council Rejects Extending the Stay on the Court Orders

The following update was received from the Martins Creek Quarry Action Group (MCQAG) last night. Great news!

Dear Members & Friends

Further to our message from earlier this week.

In a show of support towards impacted residents Dungog Shire Council this evening unanimously voted against entering into an agreement with Daracon to extend the stay on orders made against Daracon’s unlawful operations by the NSW Court of Appeal.

It is now open for Daracon to make this same request to the Land & Environment Court before a Judge, prior to the 20th of September. 

Thank you to all the residents who attended the Council meeting this evening.

Regards
James Ashton

The “stay” has allowed Daracon to continue operating illegally, by extracting rock other than primarily for railway ballast, quarrying beyond the area to which the consent applied, dispatching a greater percentage of material by road than was allowable and impermissibly processing rock on the western land.

Yesterday, we had sent an email to the Dungog council urging them to reject any extension of the stay of the court orders. (Note: IEMP = Interim Environmental management Plan, which applies during the “stay”, setting interim tonnage, operating hours and truck frequency limits).

I write to council to urge you to reject any request from Daracon to extend the stay of the court orders. Any extension would allow the quarry to continue operating under the IEMP which was intended as a transition to compliance with the 1991 consent conditions.

While your councillors will all have some degree of sympathy for either the residents or the quarry, this is not a matter for sympathy. It is council’s duty as the current consent authority for the quarry, to carry through the actions already undertaken through the courts, and require Daracon to comply with the courts validated consent conditions. There must be no further extensions of the stay on the court orders. That is the law, and that is your duty.

Council must not assume that the SSDA being pursued by Daracon will ever be finalised and approved, and if so under what conditions, and whether Daracon would be prepared to proceed with reopening the quarry under those conditions.  The IEMP conditions may therefore grossly exceed any future conditions.

Council does not have the legal or moral right to allow the increases implicit in the IEMP over the 1991 consent to continue. Only a new EIS with full  scrutiny by all agencies, the DPE and the IPC can assess if and under what conditions would a quarry operations be allowed continue.

As a resident on a Martins Creek Quarry haul route, and a weekly visitor and shopper in Paterson, I urge council to disallow any extensions to the stay on the court orders.

Yours sincerely
Neil and Margarete Ritchie

It is great news that the council has voted to reject any further extension to the stay on the court orders. We must now wait to see if Daracon complies by the 20th September deadline, or continues to use the courts for further delays.

Vote for Seaham Community Projects Funding

The following has been provided by Pre McGee from the Seaham Park and Wetland Committee, which  has put forward two projects for NSW Govt funding.  These are a bus shelter and associated laneways at Seaham School and school bus interchange and outdoor exercise equipment for Seaham Park.

These projects have successfully gone through stage 1 and 2 culling and stage 3 is a public vote.

The bus shelter is a high priority because in the 1990s there was a bus shelter which was removed because it was a closed-in structure which did not provide good visibility from the street.

The Seaham School bus stop and associated school bus interchange is both a transfer point for children from surrounding areas going to schools in Maitland and Raymond Terrace but also a disembarkation point for children going to Seaham School.  There are both health and safety issues associated with there being no bus shelter and no formal bus laneway.

Parents and the community are concerned about children waiting in extreme heat for buses.  At the interchange it would be hotter due to the urban island heat effect where localized warming occurs due to dark coloured and paved surfaces and the heat emissions from idling buses creating intense heat.  There is no shelter and no trees at the interchange.

There is also no designated waiting area for school children to wait or alight for buses.

In wet weather school students shelter across the road under the shop awning and run across the road when their bus arrives.  This create safety issues for themselves as well as drivers.

Drivers and children will not be put at risk of children running across the road when their bus arrives as they will be able to shelter on the side of the road where the bus stops.

Please  vote and support these projects. This flyer explains the process.
SP My Community Projects Flyer 2019
(a document box may appear at the bottom of your PC screen – click to open)

Q&A on Hanson’s proposed concrete washout recycling and batching

The following extract of an email from Genevieve Seed at the NSW Dept Planning has been posted for the benefit of the community.

 

From: Gen Seed <genevieve.seed@planning.nsw.gov.au>
Date: 19 July 2019 11:02:35 am AEST

Subject: RE: Recycling Concrete Crushing Batching Plant Brandy Hill Quarry

Please find below the answers to your questions of last week.

As a lot of these questions related to the existing and proposed operation, I sought some input from Hanson for confirmation of my understanding.

The responses to your questions are as follows (in italics):

  1. The proponent states in RW Corkery & Co response letter to the CCC dated 18 January 2019 that a Concrete Batching Plant and Concrete Crushing plant for recycling activities will be limited to 20,000 tonnes of material each year. Please clarify if 20,000 tonnes is the accurate figure?

Yes. The Expansion Project is seeking to import 20,000 tonnes of concrete waste. The Project is also seeking to produce and dispatch 15,000m3 of pre-mixed concrete per annum.

  1. Can this number be increased in the next 30 years?

If this amount was approved, it could not be increased without a modification to the consent. This would be subject to a merit assessment.

  1. Once issued with a licence, what would have to occur for the plant to cease operating?

If consent is granted, the plant could operate until the nominated end of life date.

  1. What are the hours of operation for all activities including ancillary activities for the Concrete Recycling and Batching Plant? What days will all Concrete Recycling and Batching and ancillary activities be operating?

The proposed hours of operation for Concrete Recycling and Batching Plant are:

–  Monday to Saturday 5:00am to 10:00pm

–  No operation on Sundays or public holidays

  1. Has this recycling activity already started?

No – there is currently no concrete batching or recycling facility on the site.

  1. What is the total number of truck movements in and out of BHQ site per year for a 20,000 tonne Batching and Recycling plant?

Once operating, the concrete batching activities would require a maximum of 11 laden deliveries per day (22 movements) of sand and cementitious materials.

Deliveries of concrete washout material would most likely occur as backloads from the delivery of aggregate material. That is, trucks would transport this material on their way back to the Quarry. It is estimated that this process would require no more than 20 loads per week however this would vary significantly.

These proposed truck movements have been included in the overall proposed traffic limits of the Expansion application.

  1. Please list in dot point all the chemicals that are used in a Concrete Batching and Recycling plant?

There are no chemicals used in concrete recycling other than those required for maintenance of the equipment used.

Concrete batching requires mixing of aggregates, sand and water with cement or cementitious materials to produce concrete. The only chemicals used in this process are admixtures/activators required for special batching requests. These chemicals are commonly used to retard concrete setting or improve the concrete for use in particular settings such as reducing corrosion potential in marine environments.

  1. Please list in dot point all toxic or hazardous materials related to Concrete Recycling and Batching Plant?

Concrete recycling
–  Diesel fuel
–  Small volumes of oils, lubricants or greases.

Concrete batching

–  Cementitious materials including cement or fly ash (see discussion at question 14 below).
–  Admixtures / activators
–  Lime
–  Concrete itself is considered potentially corrosive (when uncured/hardened).

All material that is classified as potentially hazardous would be transported, transferred and stored in accordance with the Australian Standards and manufacturers’ specifications (requiring bunded storage to capture 110% of the storage capacity).

Material safety data sheets would be accessible for all chemicals used / stored on site.

  1. Will the Recycling Crusher be enclosed? How will Hanson enclose the Recycling Crusher?

Yes. The mobile crushing equipment would be housed in an enclosed unit that provides a degree of dust mitigation. Hanson would enclose the mobile crushing unit on three sides using shipping containers and a cover. This is not as effective as the sheeting that would be used for the fixed processing equipment, however this type of enclosure is not possible for mobile equipment.

  1. What is the process when the Mobile Crusher needs to be relocated?

Mobile crushing units are commonly loaded on to a flatbed truck or transport float. If the equipment is track mounted in would be moved within the Quarry without loading.

  1. If the Crusher is relocated, what process will occur to ensure the real time monitoring on site for noise and dust is relevant in the new location?

The mobile crushing unit would likely remain in the same position as presented in the Quarry layout figures. If the equipment needs to be relocated for some reason, it would still remain within the Processing and Stockpiling Area as this is the only location where there would be sufficient space for the equipment to operate. The change in location is not likely to change dust generation and dispersion to the extent that monitoring locations would need to be changed. However, Hanson has advised it would continue to liaise with the community throughout the life of the development to ensure that any impacts identified by the community are addressed and mitigated.

  1. Does Hanson currently import and use Sand and Coal Ash/Fly Ash in their Concrete production?

Yes at other Hanson concrete batching plants, but not currently at the Brandy Hill Quarry.

  1. Did Hanson use Ash from Coal Fired Station in 2012 and if so, why wasn’t the neighbours informed that these materials were being imported to the BHQ site?

Yes, Hanson participated in a field trail to inform research into the use of this waste material (bottom ash) as a replacement for fine sand materials. More information on this trial can be found here https://www.quarrymagazine.com/Article/2662/Coal-power-station-waste-as-a-fine-aggregate-replacement-in-concrete.

The trial involved pouring a small concrete slab (10m3) and then testing the concrete properties (slumping, strength and shrinkage). The use of ash materials from coal-fired power generation is common as a replacement for cement in concrete production, but this trial was seeking a replacement for fine sand materials using the larger bottom ash. The material was not stored at the Quarry for a significant period and only imported once. The risk of environmental impact was considered negligible and therefore there was no need to discuss this activity with neighbours. This activity may be compared to the pouring of a concrete driveway at any residence in Brandy Hill.

  1. Will Coal Ash that comes from coal-fired electric power plants be used at the Brandy Hill Quarry site in the processing of the 20,000 tonnes being imported to the site?

Hanson has advised me that they do intend to import fly ash as part of the Expansion Project. However, there is no information on this within in existing documentation for the proposal, and I know I have advised you previously that this did not form part of their proposal.

On this basis, I have requested further information from Hanson in relation to this matter, including what is being proposed and how it will be managed.

To get a bit more information about this material, I contacted the EPA for a discussion. They advised me that importing this material does not form part of an ‘Environment Protection License’ but is regulated by a Resource Recovery Order and Exemption issued in 2014 (see link below).

https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/-/media/epa/corporate-site/resources/waste/rro14-coal-ash.pdf?la=en&hash=7222DC20531E7EDEE919CDDE7CFB7FA740430841

I understand that to use this material, the supplier must ensure that it meets a certain chemical composition.

This is something we will be carefully considering when the Amended RTS comes in, and I appreciate you bringing this to our attention.

  1. Recently Dam levels at Brandy Hill Quarry have been extremely low due to extremely low rainfall. What measures does Hanson take to ensure adequate dust suppression when they are running out of water?

Hanson advised it has not experienced the low dam levels reported here. However, if water in the Western Dam was getting low, Hanson would import water (using tanker supply) to ensure that the water cart can continue dust suppression. This has not been required in past operations.

  1. Who is responsible on site to evaluate dust, what is the current process for measuring dust?

The quarry manager is responsible for managing dust on site.

The EPA regulates all forms of pollution including dust, noise, water quality and blasting through the Quarry’s Environment Protection Licence. Currently, deposited dust is monitored at the Quarry boundary at three locations. Hanson also have a particulate matter monitor located to the south of the Quarry. This monitoring is not required under the Quarry’s existing Environment Protection Licence but is used by Hanson to inform dust management at the Quarry. It is expected that dust monitoring would increase under the Expansion Project, if approved.

  1. What scientific activities does Hanson BHQ undertake currently to ensure dust is not harming wildlife and farmed animals, fauna, flora and human residents on tank water?

Hanson advised that it undertakes monitoring in accordance with the requirements of the EPA. Hanson advised that it recently completed a program of water quality testing in water tanks in the vicinity of the Quarry and found that all tank water was suitable for drinking.

The Department will carefully consider the potential air quality impacts in its assessment of the application.

  1. In relation to the rock being crushed on site – what is the rock composition BHQ is blasting and crushing?

The rock being extracted at the Quarry is predominantly ignimbrite which is overlain by sandstone, mudstone and conglomerate to the south of the Quarry Site.

  1. What testing and monitoring of residents over the past 30 years has been conducted? What monitoring and studies have occurred for current and former staff from previous operators? How can you prove that the rock they have been breathing in has not harmed their health?

I do not believe Hanson has undertaken monitoring of residents or staff respiratory health. This would be a difficult system to implement particularly as people are exposed to all different levels of particulates. It is also difficult to determine the level that particulates affect respiratory health in comparison to other emissions (ie smoke). Research on the health effects of particulate matter is evolving and NSW Health have some interesting information of this. https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/air/Pages/particulate-matter.aspx

  1. The community is concerned about the impact on the heritage listed; 3 Bridges, the Woodville Store, and the historical Stone Church and Hall at Woodville. Has there been a study on numbers of movements currently?  Has the impact from vibration on these buildings been considered? Has the owners of these premises been consulted regarding the expansion proposal?

Hanson has advised that the quarry currently uses the route that requires trucks to cross the heritage listed wooden bridges and to pass the Woodville Store and the Church and Hall at Woodville. Hanson consider that there is unlikely to be significant additional impacts from transport activities at these locations, as it does not intend to increase the maximum hourly number of dispatches from the site.

Drivers are made aware of the locations of the heritage bridges and the load limits and single lane requirements for their use.

Hanson has assessed potential blast vibration impacts from the operation and determined that vibration from blasting was not likely to cause structural damage at the closest residences to the Quarry. The blast assessment concludes that vibration from blasting would not impact the Woodville Store or the Church and Hall at Woodville as these are at a greater distance from the operation.

The Department will carefully consider the heritage and blasting impacts of the proposal in its assessment of the application.

  1. Residents rely on a variety of food produced in this area along with healthy native forests for honey production along with tourism activities. Industrial activities of this nature may significantly jeopardise commercial, primary producers, and non-commercial barter opportunities and any Organic Licenses for this community. Has there been any review on the validity and academic rigour of the Key Insights report on the surrounding rural communities impacted such as Butterwick, Dunns Creek, Woodville/Seaham? The report seems to only focus on the more built up areas of Brandy Hill, the village of Seaham and the row of houses in Nelsons Plains?

I understand the social impact assessment may have focused on the areas of Brandy Hill and Seaham based on their proximity to the extractive operation and proposed haulage route. The proposal’s potential to impact broader primary production in the area is likely to be related to groundwater drawdown and downstream surface water quality impacts.

The Department is carefully considering these impacts in its assessment of the proposal.

I hope this information is of assistance.

Please note that when Hanson responded to me about some of these questions, they advised that they are happy to meet any resident on site or in person. They also advised they would conduct a site visit for discussion of existing operations.  I understand if this does not appeal to you but thought it important that you know the offer is there.

Kind regards,
Gen

VOWW Newsletter and upcoming AGM

Letterboxes in the area have been receiving the following flier about VOWW ‘s activities including the results of the photo competition. The VOWW AGM is on the 31st July at the Woodville School of Arts Hall at 6:30pm. Come along and meet other community minded people.

There will be a guest speaker at this meeting. Chas Keys is a former deputy director of the SES in NSW. He has written extensively on flood management, flood warning systems, planning for floods and education of the community about flood safety. His talk will include the inevitability of population growth pressures on urban fringe areas like ours and will be riveting for residents. Questions will also be welcome.

The BHSAG is a subcommittee of VOWW, so we encourage you to support VOWW with your $5 per year membership, which is due from July each year.

VOWW Newsletter and upcoming AGM

The following form outlines how to become as member.

Application Form

CCC Minutes February and May 2019 and Proposed Operating Hours

For your information, these are the minutes from the last two Brandy Hill Quarry Community Consultative Committee (CCC) meetings.

Finalised minutes of the Brandy Hill CCC February 2019

Brandy Hill Quarry_CCC Minutes 2-5-19

Also presented at the February meeting was the following document outlining the changes between the original EIS that resulted in the 160+ objecting submissions, and what Hanson were proposing at that time to include in their “Response TO Submissions”, ie their revised project plan. The community representatives advised that the revised planned hours of operation were still totally unacceptable to the community. In the absence of any subsequent advice from Hanson of any changes, we believe this document is still their current plan.

BHQ CCC Comparison Presentation_February 2019

For clarification of the above document, we understand that “Load and Haul” refers to dump truck movements from the pit to the primary crusher, which are all proposed to operate from 5am to 10pm, except Sundays and public holidays.
Truck loading and despatch is not clearly stated, but the answer in an earlier post states:

As described in Section 3.12 of the RTS, Hanson has reduced the components of the operation that would be approved to occur 24/7 following a review of the proposed ongoing operation. Hanson is seeking approval for the following activities to occur 24/7 where needed to satisfy client demand.
• Secondary crushing and screening activities.
• Road truck loading and despatch.
• Maintenance

The only concession on road truck haulage and despatch is that despatch between 10pm and 5am would only occur on up to 20 nights per year. ie we could expect despatch from 5am up until 10pm to satisfy “client demand”.

Compare that to BHSAG’s April 2017 submission which stated :

“Reject the proposal to allow 24/7 dispatch through a residential area and 24/7 crushing. There must be a complete curfew on operations between 8pm – 6am weekdays, and from midday Saturday until 6am Monday. Principally for the sake of amenity.”

After the poor response from Hanson in the above comparison document, BHSAG are proposing to put to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) hearing (whenever we get to that point), that operating hours should  remain as per the current consent :-  6am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday.

Do you have any comments on either the minutes, Hanson’s proposed hours of operations, or what we should ask the IPC to restrict them to?

 

 

 

 

 

Community Questions and Hanson’s Answers

These documents were provided in January and February respectively. Sorry for the delay in posting them.

At the November CCC meeting, Hanson invited the community representatives to ask any questions about Hanson’s current proposal for the quarry expansion.  The questions in this first document were prepared by those community representatives (N&M Ritchie, J Moore, P Rees, C Parslow-Redman, P McGee, R Adams & P LeMottee). The answers were provided by RW Corkery who are the primary consultant handling Hanson’s Response To Submissions.

968_BHQ – Response to Community Questions_January 2019

Giles Road residents also submitted questions and these were answered by Hanson.

Giles Road resident 21-2-19_Responses

We welcome any comments or questions that you have after reading these documents.

 

Protection of koalas – NSW Parliament Inquiry

This was received today from our local NSW member (who is the shadow Minister for  Environment and Heritage).  It is repeated here for its relevance to koala and other potential habitat loss from not only quarry expansions but general development.  Don’t leave it to other concerned people to make submissions. Only you can say what you want to tell the inquiry, so act soon.

 

Dear friends,

The NSW Parliament is currently holding an inquiry into the protection of koalas in NSW, including the impact of the Berejiklian government’s land clearing laws on koala habitats across NSW.

 I encourage you to make a submission to the inquiry to ensure that the committee members have the best understanding of the current threats to our native koala population, especially in Port Stephens.

I am pleased that former Shadow Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe is a member of the Committee. Penny has visited Port Stephens many times and is very familiar with the issues we have had with the Mambo Wetlands and UrbanGrowth site at Fishermans Bay.

Submissions to the inquiry close on 2 August 2019.

You can read more about the inquiry and make a submission here: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=2536

Kind Regards,
Kate

Kate Washington MP
Shadow Minister for Environment and Heritage
Shadow Minister for Rural Health
Member for Port Stephens
82 Port Stephens Street, Raymond Terrace NSW 2324  | 

P (02) 4987 4455    F (02) 4987 4466   
E
portstephens@parliament.nsw.gov.au

PS Wecome to the new people now following our website!