Northampton Press

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Keystone will detail company’s expansion plans

Wednesday, December 4, 2019 by PAUL CMIL Special to The Press in Local News

E. Allen supervisors to hear updates on DEP permit for added quarry use

Keystone Cement Company agreed to meet with East Allen Township’s Board of Supervisors Dec. 18. The meeting’s intent is to clarify the company’s plans for its operations.

The company was recently purchased by Giant Cement Company and applied for a Department of Environmental Protection permit to continue local operations. Both areas were concerns for local residents.

A recent lawsuit filed by employees was reportedly resolved amicably and workers were reportedly satisfied that the new merger will provide them the same guarantees and contracts they had in their union contract.

The DEP permit request is more contentious. The new permit extension would allow the company to stay in operation for another 60 years.

The lengthy application is more than 100 pages. The DEP questioned the details and residents expressed their concerns. Supervisors decided to ask for a meeting with Keystone.

Scott McGoldrick, environmental compliance coordinator at Keystone, agreed to explain the details before the supervisors’ meeting.

One concern is the provision allowing the company to dig 100 feet deeper into the quarry. The fear is that certain shallow wells along Jacksonville Road would be drawn dry if the water table dropped a potential 65 feet.

McGoldrick earlier met with resident Tom Miller, who has a community water system near the plant. According to the company, the expected drop is 30 feet and the higher number is an outlier based on a myriad factors.

As McGoldrick stated, the full extent of the drawdown is not predicted to occur until the quarry depth is reached. In Miller’s conversation with Keystone, he was told the aquifers are in separate pools, which will limit the drawdown in pools other than the one at the quarry.

McGoldrick said he understands and it is included in the report that Keystone is responsible to address the impact of the expansion on water wells, both public and private, in the vicinity of the quarry.

Blasting was another concern addressed by several residents. Since it was originally addressed, Keystone has reduced the intensity of the blasts, according to residents.

Keystone has changed the location of the mining to make better use of the stone reserves in the quarry. The change is part of a two-year plan to revamp the mining plan. There is a large amount of high-quality limestone reserves at the southern end of the mining area.

The blasting of this newer location is closer to resident homes. Keystone has spoken to property owners and installed additional monitoring devices in the Jacksonville Road area.

McGoldrick indicated the DEP worked closely with the company during the process and is satisfied with the application.

McGoldrick wants to be sure the community understands the company is a good corporate citizen and much of the local economy is dependent on the jobs and products produced by Keystone.

According to McGoldrick, the quarry is the heart of the company. The existing 550-acre quarry has sustained the business for more than 90 years. Keystone has 137 employees and supports another 139 jobs in the area.

The company paid almost a half-million dollars in state taxes in 2017. Property taxes paid were $121,000 plus $349,600 in school taxes. Keystone contributes $35.8 million to Pennsylvania’s economy.

To comply with clean air standards, Keystone invested $252.7 million over the past decade to ensure compliance with federal emission standards. Expected improvements in dust collection and emissions monitors reduced emissions. Increases in efficiency resulted in significant energy savings.

The meeting will be held 7 p.m. at the township municipal building, 5344 Nor-Bath Blvd.