ATHENS TWP, Pa. (WETM) — Valley residents will be able to voice their comments once again to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regarding the proposed Minard Mine quarry site in Athens Twp early next week.
The public hearing will be held inside the Athens High School Auditorium on Sept. 26 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. The high school can be found at 401 W. Frederick St. in Athens, with the auditorium being on the 3rd Street side of the building.
Unlike the first hearing that took place on July 31 and had a breakdown of the project from the DEP and Bishop Brothers Construction, this hearing will serve strictly for public comment.
According to the DEP, comments will be limited to three minutes or less per person to make sure that everyone has a chance to speak. The DEP will give those attending the meeting an overview of the pending permit status for the mine before opening the floor up to comment. Questions brought up by residents will not be answered by the DEP, as the hearing is to only record and collect comments. A transcript of the meeting will be made and posted publically sometime after the meeting.
Registration is required to make comments during the meeting. To register, contact Jordi Comas, an Environmental Justice Coordinator with the DEP, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-327-3656. Onsite registration will be available as space allows for it.
The project has since gained preliminary approval from Athens Township supervisors in a 4-1 late last month. This was the final approval needed by Bishop Brothers at the local level, with only the DEP needing to pass off on the project for the company to begin construction.
The proposed construction project will take 360 acres of farmland and forested areas in Athens Township across the Chemung River and turn them into dredging zones for sand and gravel, along with a hard rock sandstone quarry.
During the July 31 meeting, residents voiced their concerns regarding the sandstone blasting that will be conducted on the side of the mountain to the north of Round Top Park, and the numerous forms of pollution it might produce.
Both the DEP and Bishop Brothers relayed to residents that the pollution, in the form of rock debris and dust as well as noise from the blasts, would be contained to levels accepted by the DEP.
From health impacts to economic ones, residents questioned if the project would lower the local housing market, dropping housing prices because of a mining project outside of the resident’s control, but the question was left unanswered as the meeting was only with the DEP and the construction company and not township supervisors.
The project will be implemented in stages over a few years and has an expected operating life of 20 years.