WESTERLY — The mammoth stone dust piles that came to symbolize Copar Quarries of Westerly’s troubled tenure in Bradford have been removed or encapsulated with loam and grass in compliance with the terms of a consent order issued by the state Department of Environmental Management
The work also is apparently in compliance with a March 2016 settlement agreement between the town, the owner of the quarry property, and neighbors who had sued the companies and the town, based on a memorandum from Town Manager Derrik Kennedy earlier this month to the Town Council though Kennedy was unavailable to confirm that Tuesday.
The remediation work was accomplished by Cherenzia Companies of Pawcatuck under a contract with Westerly Granite Co. Inc., which leased its 108-acre property to Copar from October 2010 to August 2015 when Copar’s affiliated successor company went into bankruptcy. Before Cherenzia’s work began, one of the piles was taller than the tree line and another was nearly as large. In all, the piles are estimated to have been the equivalent of 100,000 yards of material left behind by Copar and Armetta Sand & Stone, its successor.
The piles consisted of a mix of materials that were byproducts of Copar’s quarrying operation. Seldom watered, the material, which was called sand by some and stone dust by others, blew onto neighboring properties, according to the neighbors and state officials. The neighbors complained for years saying the dust made a mess of their homes and put their health at risk.
Thomas Liguori Jr., Cherenzia’s house counsel and Sam E. Cherenzia IV, the company’s project superintendent, led a tour of the site Tuesday, showing the new landscape to the town’s Director of Development Services Lisa Pellegrini, Town Planner Jason Parker, Zoning Officer Nathan Reichert, and Minimum Housing Official James Broccoli.
“The unwashed manufactured sand was either washed and removed or it was regraded and covered with loam and seeded so that the material is no longer able to blow,” Liguori said.
Material from the back of one of the piles was removed completely to allow for creation of a vegetative buffer between the now encapsulated remains of the pile and a nearby seasonal stream.
The March 2016 settlement agreement set conditions for future quarrying operations and required Westerly Granite Co. Inc. to “use best efforts to market, sell and/or remove from the quarry property any unwashed stone dust, which was previously stockpiled by Copar” within 18 months of the agreement being signed.
The town hired Alfred D’Orio, an Ashaway-based professional land surveyor and land use consultant, to monitor compliance with the settlement agreement’s provisions for removal of the sand piles. In September, D’Orio reported that a 23.7-foot-tall pile had been completely removed. According to the report, the two other primary piles, one a 33-foot-tall pile and the other a 34.6-foot tall pile, had been reduced to 12.2-feet tall and 15.2-feet tall respectively. The 12.2-foot pile and the 15.2-foot pile are both now graded and encapsulated with loam and grass. A 24.6-foot-tall pile of washed stone, that is being sold, was reduced to 24.2-feet tall.
The property was also subject to a consent order issued to Copar by the state Department of Environmental Management for alleged violations of the department’s air pollution control regulations caused by dust blowing off of the quarry property. On Tuesday, Gail Mastrati, a DEM spokeswoman, said the air violations connected to the piles had been addressed to the department’s satisfaction based on an inspection conducted on Nov. 22. DEM is continuing to study whether the property is now in compliance with a separate consent order alleging wetlands and water pollution violations, Mastrati said.
George Comolli, whose family makes up Westerly Granite Co. Inc., praised the work performed by Cherenzia during an interview Tuesday. As for the future of the property, Comolli said the company has an ongoing lease agreement with Cherenzia.
“We plan limited quarrying activity and to use the property for other light industrial uses that will have no negative effect on the neighbors,” Comolli said.
If Cherenzia continues to work on the site it will be to harvest large stone pieces for use as breakwater and sea walls and semi-annual crushing of the smaller byproducts that result from harvesting the large pieces, Liguori said during an interview last week.