Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Martin Marietta Materials, the nation’s number two provider of construction aggregates, wants to expand the operations of its Jamestown quarry.
Local residents are concerned, and many think with good reason.
“It’s a safety issue for sure,” said Donna Rodin, Jamestown resident and Berkeley Independent community columnist. “We have legitimate safety concerns regarding the traffic this will produce and the way these trucks are driven. They fly around that bend.”
The bend in question is the stretch of French Santee Road off Highway 45/17A in Jamestown where the Martin Marietta quarry is located.
“They don’t stop or even slow down sometimes and you take your life in your own hands when you get in your car,” Rodin said.
More than 50 property owners and town residents packed the tiny Martin Marietta meeting room on the site of its Jamestown quarry on July 18 to meet with company officials and voice their concerns about the planned expansion.
Corporate officials from Martin Marietta’s home office in Raleigh were on hand to address concerns and answer questions.
Vice President of Natural Resources and Environmental Services Paxton Badham gave a presentation about the company’s planned quarry expansion and tried to assuage concerns about damage caused by dynamiting.
“We have very strict covenants and restrictions when it comes to dynamiting here,” he said. “We are only required to have one seismograph onsite to monitor blasting, but we use two.”
Badham explained that the company has instituted a 300-foot blasting buffer that no charges will be set or limestone mined within 300 feet of the nearest structure not on Martin Marietta property.
“We are vigilant in monitoring the effects of blasting rock, both in air movement created by the explosion and ground vibrations,” Badham said. “The change in outside temperature of 27 degrees has 80 times more impact on a structure in expansion and contraction as the vibrations created when we set charges.”
This did little to assuage residents whose homes are adjacent to the quarry.
Tanya Helton, whose property fronts the quarry, said she’s seen the effect of explosions at her mother’s home firsthand. “Don’t stand there and tell me this has no effect on our homes and pictures don’t fall off the walls when I stood right there and watched it happen,” she said.
Helton added that she has lived next to the quarry “since I was five years old,” she said. “I know what dynamiting does to a person’s home. I’ve seen it first hand and I dare anybody here to tell me I’m wrong.”
Martin Marietta Plant Manager Handsome Major promised to work with residents to ensure the safekeeping of their possessions and to help minimize any inconveniences his company’s expansion would have on their lives.
“You call me if you are having problems when we blast and we will come out to your home and set up a seismograph and monitor seismic activity and if it’s something that’s a direct result of our mining operations we’ll take steps to fix it,” he said.
The proposed expansion will satisfy Martin Marietta business needs for the next 20 to 30 years, according to the company.
“What we want to tell residents is that we’re committed to this community,” Badham said. “We are here and we’re here for the long run.”
Martin Marietta Materials is the second largest producer of construction aggregates in U.S. used primarily for construction of highways and other infrastructure projects. Locally their largest customers include the South Carolina Department of Transportation and Santee Cooper.
The Berkeley County Planning Commission was poised to again take up the matter of the request for rezoning for the quarry property at its next meeting on Tuesday, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Assembly Room in Moncks Corner. A final decision for the rezoning request will be made by Berkeley County Council.