Leaders of an organization focused on protecting waterways in the White Oak River Basin say the information in the permitting public notice for Martin Marietta’s proposed 100-acre expansion plan for its limestone aggregate quarry in Maysville raises questions and may not convey the full extent of the environmental damage that could result.
Coastal Carolina Riverwatch announced Tuesday that it had submitted comments to the Army Corps of Engineers in response to the public notice issued in February for the proposed Belgrade Quarry expansion. Martin Marietta Materials Inc. seeks Army authorization to discharge fill material into 8.96 acres of wetlands and 899 feet of stream as part of the project. Plans include an approximately 8-acre expansion site north of the existing mine pit and a roughly 92-acre area south of the existing mine pit referred to as the “Bender Pit.”
The period for public comment on the proposed expansion ended March 26.
“Our overall goal is to protect the biological integrity of the watershed and to protect our waters as they exist naturally,” Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Executive Director Lisa Rider said earlier this week.
Rider and Waterkeeper Rebecca Drohan told Coastal Review that the information in the Corps’ public notice was vague, raising questions of sufficiency. They said more information is needed about how the expansion, including a new area referred to in the application as the Bender Pit and the associated construction of a new road and road crossings, would affect the surrounding hydrology and wetlands.
The organization said the proposed Bender Pit would be a new pit, not an expansion of the existing mine pit farther north. The Bender Pit expansion site is surrounded by jurisdictional wetlands, the organization said in its submitted comments. Those wetlands provide important function such as flood control, pollution filtration, erosion control and wildlife habitat.
“Our coastal environment is one that can be resilient, but it’s very fragile, as well,” Drohan said. “Anytime that there’s proposed changes that may affect those functions, we’re definitely concerned.”
Martin Marietta East Division President in the company’s Raleigh office did not respond to messages seeking comment.
The quarry first opened off U.S. 17 and Belgrade-Swansboro Road in 1938 as Superior Stone, a Martin Marietta predecessor, and has been active as currently configured since 1988. The company said it needs to expand the operation from its current 1,605 acres “to cost-effectively mine construction grade aggregate reserves at the existing Belgrade Quarry facility.”