Gravel pits near urban areas anyone? At Save Not Pave, reducing the asphalt footprint of wider/larger roadways and parking lots is only part of the air pollution/degradated life-style problem. Cottonwood Heights is one of many northern Utah residential and agricultural places that wrestles with the negative air quality effects of gravel pits.
More building, cementing and asphalting comes at a cost. What about reclaiming the innumerable commercial buildings we see sitting vacant along 9000 South and many other streets? What about re-utilizing one empty parking lot sea after another that dot Salt Lake Valley.
New commercial buildings are sexy looking and employ people to build them. But, just as the automotive and extraction industries must, we need to rethink the way we treat our finite natural resources, including having pure, oxygenated air to breath, before we find ourselves in even worse health and lifestyle problems than we currently suffer.
According to Brian Maffly/Salt Lake Tribune, “Across the state, nearly 300 quarries produce between 40 million and 50 million tons of aggregates a year, according to the Utah Geological Survey. The haul in 2018 was worth $286 million, or about $7 a ton.”
“There is nothing that addresses cumulative effects. When is it too many mines?” asks Benjamin resident Julie Sainsbury. Increased truck traffic and fugitive dust emissions are disrupting lives and threatening health of residents. Sainsbury continues, “There is nothing that addresses cumulative effects. When is it too many mines (excavation)?”
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment (UPHE) insists the Utah Department of Environmental Quality should do more to track dust emissions, conduct more frequent quarry inspections, and establish a hotline for residents to report dust incidents. “To reduce dust emissions, his group urges operators to use natural gas-powered trucks instead of diesel, to cover their loads, to clean trucks between trips, and to relocate mines to less windy and populous sites. Sand and gravel deposits can be found along 2,000 miles of Lake Bonneville’s ancient shorelines rimming the valleys of northern Utah,” says John Macfarlane, a neurosurgeon on Moench’s UPHE board.