In western states huge stone quarries are commonplace; it's
called hard-rock mining, often leaving huge pits. Back
east, in Kentucky, by 1998 non-coal surface mining existed
at 204 permitted sites, 123 of which were limestone quarries,
and all sites, together, covered 33,729 acres.
More information can be found at http://www.uky.edu/...
West Virginia. In
West Virginia about one hundred quarries, covering approximately
10,000 acres, are mined for a lesser variety of rocks and
minerals than out west. More information can be found
Here limestone, sandstone, shale, chert, flint, gravel,
and sand are the main resources mined. In the
past iron and manganese were taken from the earth.
The present state statute
was substantially rewritten in 2000. It regulates extraction
of "minerals" (excluding coal), meaning "clay,
flagstone, gravel, sand, limestone, sandstone, shale, chert,
flint, dolomite, manganese, sandstone, slate, iron ore and
any other metal or metallurgical ore." [W.
Va. Code sec. 22-4-2]. The state's DEP is charged
with enforcing the statute and has implementing regulations
[Title 38, Series 2B]..
Evolution of quarries. In the
early 20th century limestone was quarried mostly by hand
and the available machinery was steam-driven. Then
50 men could produce 500 tons of gravel a day, but today
10 to 20 workers can produce 5,000 tons per day.
Earlier, most quarries were short-lived but now they are
around for decades.
Compared with early days,
mines are noisier, dustier, larger, and located closer to
population centers. Some quarries are open-pit,
others are in tunnels. In 1997 16 million tons of
non-coal rocks and minerals were extracted from West Virginia
mountains, most of which went for use in roads, buildings,
bridges, and other public structures. By far the largest
user is the state of West Virginia which maintains about
35,000 miles of roads.
Anyone who has traveled
to Elkins in the last several decades and has seen the unreclaimed
Century Limestone quarry or who has passed the Greer limestone
facility outside Morgantown is familiar with the scarred
landscape left by quarries. The Eastern Panhandle
counties know the effects of quarries quite well. Blasting
and dust are voiced as complaints by residents near
these quarries -- the same kind of complaints as are associated
with mountaintop removal mines. A Pocohontas County
quarry's planned expansion in 1999 - 2000, not far from
Snowshoe resort, has proved to be a focal point for controversy,
pitting an extractive industry against the state's preeminent
tourist recreational attraction.
Positive aspects of the 2000 state statute
include blasting restrictions, pre-blasting surveys,
broad authority for WVDEP to deny permits, public participation
in the permitting process, groundwater monitoring, water
replacement, grandfathering of disturbed areas only, and
a buffer zone of 25 feet.
include fees too small to fund the program, less than stringent
bonding requirements, and a 5-acre quarry exemption. Citizen
lawsuits seeking mandamus are allowed when the Director
fails to discharge mandatory duties specified in W.Va. Code
section 22-4-8. If a quarry operator damages "property
of others," treble damages may be recovered by the
affected party in a lawsuit.
Last updated on Thursday, September 28, 2000