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Many oppose asphalt plant

Author: HXJQTime: 7/15/2011 4:20:45 PM

Business planned for Hazle Township would use stone from coal-mining operations.
 
HAZLE TWP. - About 100 residents of the villages of Lattimer, Pardeesville and Milnesville packed the Township Commons building to find out about an asphalt plant proposed for construction in a coal mining area between their communities.

And most had a united message for the developers: "We don't want it here."

HAZLE TWP. - About 100 residents of the villages of Lattimer, Pardeesville and Milnesville packed the Township Commons building to find out about an asphalt plant proposed for construction in a coal mining area between their communities.

And most had a united message for the developers: "We don't want it here."

The owners of Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., a State College-based company that has been operating a quarry in the area for the past month, want to build an asphalt plant next to the quarry, using stone removed in nearby coal-mining operations in the asphalt production.

Hazleton lawyer Pasco Schiavo, who owns all the land in question, called the meeting so Hawbaker officials could provide information about the proposed plant, answer residents' questions and allay their concerns."

Schiavo leases part of the land to Hawbaker for the quarry operation, and the other part to Mammoth Coal Co., which has been mining coal there for several years. Mammoth needs to remove the aggregate stone to reach the coal and has been paying Hawbaker to take it.

Brian Witmer, area aggregate operations manager for Hawbaker, said the aggregate stone is a "very valuable geological rock" used in highway construction and asphalt production.

Dan Hawbaker said his is a family-owned business started by his parents, and he wants to be a good neighbor. He said he operates eight similar asphalt plants in Pennsylvania.

Several residents voiced concerns about noise, air and water pollution and lowered property values.

Dan Bauman, asphalt operations manager for Hawbaker, said asphalt is not soluble in water and that new asphalt plants must use the best available technology, so there would be practically no air pollution.

Bauman said the black smoke and odor associated with older asphalt plants would not be a problem because of new technologies. He presented a slideshow contrasting the two asphalt-production technologies.

The concern residents raised most often was that of potential noise. One stone crusher is operating now at the quarry and three more would be added to accommodate the asphalt plant.

Witmer said the company is taking steps to reduce noise, and that the stone crusher has not been identified as a source of noise complaints at the quarry.

He said identified noise problems are being addressed. For example, steel parts on some equipment are being replaced with synthetic products to reduce noise when the stone hits them, and another machine is being enclosed in a building.