PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to Hopkins Hill Sand & Stone, LLC (HHSS) and Hopkins Hill Road Realty, LLC (HHRR) for environmental violations arising from the mining of sand and stone at a facility located at 190 New London Turnpike in West Greenwich. HHSS operates the quarry mining and processing facility and HHRR is the property owner. The site is adjacent to the Big River Management Area, a valuable natural resource consisting of over 8,000 acres of forest land, wetlands, agricultural lands, and other areas that are popular for passive recreation. Major rivers or streams in the area are Big River, Nooseneck River, Congdon River and Carr River.
The NOV charges HHSS and HHRR with violations of Rhode Island's Water Pollution Control Act, RI Water Quality Regulations, and the RI Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (RIPDES) Regulations. The enforcement action includes a $67,896 penalty.
"This action is another step in DEM's efforts to hold parties responsible for their acts," said Terrence Gray, Deputy Director for Environmental Protection. "Right near the Big River Management Area, the quarry operator and the property owner failed to comply with DEM's requirements by discharging process water and stormwater into the state's wetlands, thereby altering the wetlands without a permit from DEM. And, they continue to do so in flagrant disregard of state laws and regulations designed to protect these important natural resources. It's imperative that they follow the measures required by our enforcement action and come back into compliance as soon as possible."
In 2004, HHRR applied to DEM to alter wetlands for the proposed mining of sand and stone on the New London Turnpike property. DEM approved the wetland application with the condition that HHRR apply for a separate approval from DEM to discharge stormwater associated with industrial activity at the sand and stone facility to the wetlands.
While conducting compliance inspections of the quarry mining and processing facility in May 2018, DEM observed turbid water containing silt and sediment being discharged from the final settling basins towards the wetlands. In June 2018 DEM issued a Letter of Non-Compliance to HHRR for the violations. In July 2018 DEM was notified by the facility's engineering consultant that the V-notch weir for the main settling basin was plugged and that it would be repaired to prevent future discharge.
In August 2018 HHRR applied for a permit from DEM to discharge process water and stormwater from the facility to the wetlands. DEM identified several deficiencies in the application and issued a Deficiency Letter to HHRR in October 2018. The letter stated that the deficiencies had to be corrected for DEM to proceed with the application review. In March 2019, DEM was notified by the consultant for HHRR that it was working with their client to meet the testing requirements and that additional information would be submitted to DEM soon. To date, DEM has received no further communication from HHRR or its consultant. During another inspection in June 2019, turbid water containing silt and sediment was observed in the main settling basin; the V-notch weir had wooden boards secured over a portion of the opening; water was observed slowly trickling through these boards and into a pipe that leads to the final settling basins prior to discharging towards the wetlands; the water in the final settling basins was turbid and contained silt and sediment; and the water in the final settling basins was similar in appearance to the water in the main basin.
DEM's enforcement action orders HHSS and HHRR to immediately cease the discharge of all process water and stormwater from the facility to the wetlands. No discharge of process water or stormwater from the facility to the wetlands is allowed until a permit has been issued by DEM for the discharge, and until all the required controls have been installed and are operational. The NOV also orders HHSS and HHRR to submit to DEM within 90 days a plan assessing the impacts of sedimentation to the wetlands. The plan must describe the methods that will be used to estimate the extent of the deposition of non-native soil including depth, type, and area affected and include a schedule for completion of the work. Within 30 days of DEM's approval of the plan, HHSS and HHRR must initiate the work and complete it in accordance with the approved schedule. Within 30 days of completion of the work, HHSS and HHRR must submit the findings of the sediment assessment to DEM, which will review the report and notify HHSS and HHRR whether a restoration plan will be required.
If any violation continues, each day during which the violation occurs will constitute a separate offense and the penalties will continue to accrue. HHSS and HHRR are entitled to request a hearing before DEM's Administrative Adjudication Division within 20 days of receipt of the NOV.
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