Quarrying activity includes removing soil and other surface materials to expose the limestone bedrock, blasting the bedrock with explosives, and transporting the broken rock by truck and conveyors to be crushed, sorted, and washed (all of which is done inside the quarry). The finished material (commonly referred to as aggregate or crushed stone and gravel) is then trucked out of the quarry for use in various construction projects throughout the area or is used in the asphalt plants (which also trucks out their finished material for use in various projects throughout the area). Further information about quarrying in general, and about the Franklin quarry in particular, can be found at the Payne & Dolan website.
Typically, the quarry operator blasts a few times each week to obtain the aggregate they need for their current projects. Generally, Payne & Dolan blasts about 300 times each year. Blast frequency tends to follow the economy and/or approval of major construction projects such as the I-94 Interchange. The quarry operator typically decreases activity during the winter season.
Payne & Dolan Inc. (formerly Franklin Aggregates) owns and operates the quarry. It can be noted that in 2013, Payne & Dolan, Inc. acquired the portion of the quarry that had previously been owned by Vulcan Lands, Inc. Payne & Dolan also owns one of the asphalt plants. Black Diamond Group, Inc. owns the other plant.
The potential for adverse impacts to workers, water quality, and adjacent properties has resulted in numerous federal, state, and local laws for quarries and quarry activities. Current laws take the importance of quarries to the construction industry into consideration.
The federal government regulates the working conditions within the quarry through the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates various environmental aspects of the quarry. These agencies may periodically inspect the quarry and/or the quarry operator to ensure federal regulations are met.
The State’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regulates various environmental aspects of the quarry as well, mainly through air and water pollution permits. The DNR periodically inspects the quarry and quarry operator, but does not regularly or routinely monitor them. The State has established blasting limits in regard to how loud and how much ground vibration can be caused by quarry blasts. According to the DNR website, local governments are given the primary responsibility for regulating nonmetallic mines. The DNR provides oversight for local reclamation programs and ensures operations meet state reclamation requirements. Reclamation refers to plans established for the quarry after it has permanently stopped active mining.
The City of Franklin regulations are primarily contained in Planned Development District No. 23 (for the prior Payne & Dolan portion of the quarry) and Planned Development District No. 24 (for the former Vulcan portion of the quarry). These regulations, in place since 1997, cover items such as hours of operation, various setbacks, blasting limits, air quality standards, and blast monitoring.
In regard to blasting limits, for example, these PDD’s have established limits lower than State requirements that can be exceeded only 15 percent of the time each year, and upper limits which cannot be exceeded. For air blasts (how loud a blast can be), the lower limit is 123 decibels while the upper limit is 133 decibels. For ground vibrations, the lower limit is 0.3 inches per second while the upper limit is 0.65 inches per second.
The state and federal government regulate the quarry, and periodically inspect it, but they do not regularly monitor it. Under state, federal, and local laws, the quarry is required to monitor their own operations. From 1997 to 2004, the DNR did undertake some air quality monitoring adjacent to the quarry, but this is no longer done by the DNR.
Through the respective Planned Development Districts (PDD No. 23 and PDD No. 24), the City of Franklin requires the quarry operator to monitor and record all of its blasts. These regulations also allow the City to independently monitor various aspects of quarry operations including: blasting (both ground vibrations and air blast); air quality (dust); and general compliance with the City’s regulations. Furthermore, these regulations allow the City to assess a portion of the costs for such monitoring back to the quarry operator.
The City has been reviewing the blast records of the quarry operators since 1992, and from 2001 to 2005 had hired a consultant to independently monitor quarry blasts (which included some limited air quality monitoring during 2003 and 2004).
In June of 2012, the City reinstated independent monitoring of ground vibrations associated with each blast. The Common Council recently approved a longer-term arrangement with an independent consultant for additional monitoring continuing into 2015.
On June 4, 2012, the City of Franklin re-established the Quarry Monitoring Committee with the specific duty to assist the City in reviewing the monitoring results of the quarry operator.
The Monday, October 1, 2018, blast occurred at approximately 3:30 PM and was located on the top rock bench or layer in the south central portion of the quarry; 1,100 feet north of Drexel Avenue.
The closest seismograph to residences, located at 5800 Allwood Street, recorded a maximum ground vibration of 0.11 in/s for this blast which is only 17% of the maximum blasting limit allowed by the City of Franklin. The airblast (noise/pressure) was recorded at 112 dba (decibels) which is only 10% of the maximum airblast limit allowed by the City of Franklin.
This blast was most likely felt more by those neighbors living south of Drexel as a result of a combination of factors including: (1) limited blasting in this area of the quarry – this is only the second blast in this area for the year, (2) time of day – the blast occurred within approved hours of blasting but later in the day than blasting is normally conducted, and (3) weather conditions – it was misty with a very low cloud ceiling.
As set forth in both PDDs, the quarry pit (the area of active extraction) cannot get any closer than: 850 feet to Drexel Avenue; 650 feet to 51st Street; 200 feet to Rawson Avenue; and 200 feet to the Root River. As of 2012, the quarry has reached these limits in only a few small locations. The City monitors this progress through evaluating aerial maps.
It is important to note that certain activities have been approved outside the quarry pit, including placement and expansion of the berms, topsoil removal, trails, offices for the quarry operator, etc.
The City has created a specific Quarry Event/Complaint Form for any event or complaint related to the quarry. For additional information see Quarry Complaint Procedures.
For questions about the City’s regulations pertaining to the quarry, or the status of quarry monitoring, please contact Mr. Joel Dietl, City of Franklin Planning Department Planning Manager, at 414-425-4024 or email at email@example.com.