SUBLETTE COUNTY – Planning to greatly expand the Doyle Pit’s current permitted operations, Sublette County Road and Bridge supervisor Billy Pape submitted an application to enlarge the controversial gravel mining pit by 25 acres to cover the county’s entire 65.44-acre property, just south of Pinedale.
The Aug. 22 application, submitted to Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Air Quality Division (AQD), would increase “sand and gravel crushing, screening, exposed acreage, stockpiling, haul activity and a hot-mix asphalt plant.”
Notice of Pape’s application and AQD’s plan to approve it were posted as a legal ad in the Oct. 7 Pinedale Roundup.
The Doyle Pit’s annual production would be capped at 50,000 tons per year, according to the AQD’s Sept. 19 analysis.
The county paid $1 million in July for the newest portion it purchased between public meetings last summer and with little or no notice to neighbors and citizens. The pit property is adjacent to the intersection of Pole Creek Road and Highway 191 and county officials determined a berm might block highway travelers’ views.
However, surrounding subdivision residents and concerned citizens are protesting the purchase and the county’s plan to operate a gravel pit on a meadow and ponds used by livestock, trumpeter swans and wildlife.
Because its property is zoned agricultural, the county only needs AQD’s expanded permit to operate. Because county officials are not required to notify neighbors of the approved agricultural use, they have not done so.
The AQD analysis reveals the county is exempt from visual, environmental “land quality” and wildlife migration concerns. It recommends treating wind erosion but “localized areas identified for equipment storage/ staging, work areas and required buffers for roads and reclamation are not required to be stabilized.”
The Doyle Pit will not be a “major source” of emissions – “Therefore further analysis is not required,” the analysis concludes.
A committee of “concerned citizens” continues to meet and shared its review.
“The citizens of Sublette County oppose the county commissioners’ plan to develop the Doyle Pit Mine,” it says. “Citizens oppose the mining, crushing, hot mix asphalt plant and heavy truck traffic with the associated air and noise pollution and safety risks. Citizens oppose the county’s plans for a full-scale industrial site adjacent to the town of Pinedale and surrounded by four subdivisions.”
Pape’s application notes the nearest house is 1,000 feet away and 50 homes are within a 1-mile radius.
Most told commissioners they already see and hear the county’s Richardson Pit on South Tyler Avenue, which blows dust through their homes.
The Doyle Pit’s entrance is one-eighth of a mile up Pole Creek Road from Highway 191 and citizens question safety of heavy equipment traffic at that intersection.
“The county plans to build an intersection for heavy trucks to enter US Highway 191,” the review says. “There are significant safety concerns with adding heavy truck traffic to an already busy intersection. The addition of oil tankers for the asphalt will significantly increase chances of accidents and environmental damage. An oil spill could enter the adjacent Pine Creek and groundwater systems.”
“The pollutant of main concern at the Doyle Pit will be fugitive particulate matter; total suspended particulate (TSP) and particulate matter (PM10) with an aerodynamic matter less than or equal to a nominal 10 micrometers emitted primarily from exposed acreage, stockpiling and haul truck activity,” according to DEQ’s application analysis.
The analysis also looks at 200,000 tons stockpiled per year and 10,000 tons of topsoil moved.
“Application of water during stockpiling operations is credited for 50-percent control efficiency,” it says. Water would also provide an acceptable 50-percent control during crushing and screening.
All work areas, stockpiles and unpaved haul roads “shall be treated with water and/or chemical dust suppressants on a schedule sufficient to control fugitive dust” as the “best available control technology,” according to the analysis.
The hot-mix plant operating emissions “of main concern” will be fugitive particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and sulfur dioxide. The crushing and screening equipment and hot-mix plant “may include line power or generator power” with more of the same pollutants.
None rise to the level of additional AQD oversight.
Public comments are accepted until 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 7. A public hearing could take place if AQD Administrator Nancy Vehr determines there is enough public interest or if requested by “an aggrieved party.”
The Pinedale Roundup requested a public hearing on behalf of its readers.
Only written comments with reference to “A0013996” will be accepted and considered by AQD Administrator Nancy Vehr, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, 200 W. 17th St., Cheyenne, WY 82002 or by fax to 307-635-1784. Comments can be submitted electronically at http://aq.wyomingdeq.commentinput.com.