Gravel Pit & Asphalt Plant in the Heart of Emigrant
On September 12, 2016, Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued 32 permit deficiencies to Riverside Contracting Open Cut Permit Application, RS1 Site, Opencut #2824. Riverside Contracting now has one year to address the deficiencies listed by DEQ. If they provide a revised permit application DEQ will have 30 days to respond. You can read the DEQ’s deficiency letter HERE.
Riverside Contracting originally applied for a permit with DEQ in May of 2016, to operate a gravel mine with a gravel crushing operation and asphalt plant on site, on 23 acres just south Emigrant alongside Highway 89 and adjacent to numerous residences, and only a short distance from the Yellowstone River.
On June 20th, DEQ held a public meeting on the proposed gravel pit at the behest of the neighboring landowners. Around 200 concerned residents attended the meeting to express their concerns, frustrations and to give public comment to DEQ. A representative from Riverside Contracting was present to answer questions, although he did not provide much clarity. On July 1st DEQ extended their review of the permit another 60 days.
Based on their permit we understand that Riverside intends to mine, process, screen, crush and stockpile up to 250,000 cubic yards of gravel over the course of the next 20 years. An asphalt plant will be mobilized to the site when needed, and could remain there until moved off for another project. The pit could potentially operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round. The current permit stipulates that mining will not penetrate into the existing groundwater table, although community members and neighbors are gravely concerned with impacts to both surface and groundwater. At least two wells and two irrigation ditches are within 100 feet of the project area. Topsoil and overburden will be stockpiled and used in the final reclamation of the site. The gravel crushing plant and asphalt plant are permitted separately by the air quality division of DEQ and are not regulated under the Open Cut permit.
Read and review the permit HERE.
The Open Cut Mine Division of DEQ is not regulated under the Montana Environmental Protection Act (MEPA). The DEQ can address environmental concerns, but cannot conduct a proper Environmental Assessment (in fact they were sued by the construction industry to prevent MEPA level review and oversight). The DEQ can however review the permit and issue what are known as deficiencies. The contractor can then address the deficiencies with revisions to their permit. If all the stipulations are met the permit will be accepted and the contractor can move forward. If not the permit will not be issued. The DEQ cannot actually deny a permit. It is in the hands of the contractor to meet the requirements or not. This is the unfortunate reality of the open cut process. This does not mean the public doesn’t have a say. Make your voice heard and send comments to the DEQ expressing your concern. See below for links on where to comment.
Areas of Concern
- Historic and Cultural Resources
- Wildlife Corridors
- Public Health
- Public Safety
- Economic Impacts
- Water Availability
- Water Quality