COPAR Must Obey the Law, Stay out of Charlestown
|Reviewing the maps to see where illegal quarrying is taking place|
Rep. Donna Walsh, Tim Quillen (CDTC Town Council candidate) and Frank Glista (CDTC Planning Commission candidate) met with neighbors of the COPAR Quarry as well as Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy and Sen. Dennis Algiere to see what can be done to stop environmental problems caused by the quarrying operation.
The COPAR quarry sits on the Westerly side of the Westerly-Charlestown town line. The owners and lessors of the quarry site have been repeatedly cited for violating federal and state law, as well as town ordinances. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has cited and fined the quarry for dozens of safety violations in recent months.
Nearby residents complain that the mine operators endanger the community by releasing clouds of silica dust and creating headache-inducing noise from rock crushing, heavy truck traffic and blasting vibrations that may be the cause of cracks in well casings and foundations.
There are also concerns about mine operations already outside the permitted area, the potential of expansion both in Westerly and into Charlestown and the use of the site for dumping, especially in those areas that are mined out. One of the principals in the quarry operation, Philip Armetta, is one of Connecticut’s largest trash hauler.
The three legislators, Reps. Walsh and Kennedy and Sen. Algiere, plan to call a meeting next week with state agencies that have authority to address neighbors’ complaints. They will ask the state departments of Environmental Management, Health and Transportation to send authorized representatives and come prepared to take action.
Charlestown Democrats Glista and Quillen pledged their support and aid to the COPAR neighbors’ group and to call on Charlestown’s town government to enforce town ordinances against noise, air or water pollution coming across the line into Charlestown. Glista and Quillen also noted that Charlestown Democrats will oppose expansion of the quarry into Charlestown as well as the use of the site for waste disposal.
"This quarry has already become a Charlestown issue because the dust, noise and blasting vibrations have no respect for town lines," Glista said. "These events have changed the lives of the citizens both in Charlestown and Westerly. We stand behind all of our residents and neighbors that are affected by this potential environmental nightmare."
Tim Quillen added, “As an operating engineer, I know the kinds of equipment they are using and how dangerous it can be to workers. I know the quarry operators have already been cited and fined, but I’m convinced we have to push for stepped-up enforcement.”