- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.Q6qPkwFC.dpuf Outrage at DEPs Plan to Use Blasting at Jerome Park Reservoir | Bronx News Networkbronx

Friday, May 1, 2009

Outrage at DEPs Plan to Use Blasting at Jerome Park Reservoir

It was a packed house last night at Scott Tower where nearly 50 residents gathered for the Croton Facility Monitoring Committee Meeting.

The biggest issue at the meeting was the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) proposal to use blasting to remove a rock as they build a shaft to connect a water tunnel from the reservoir to the filtration plant at Van Cortlandt Park.

Last fall, DEP officials proposed using this blasting method, but backed off after community outrage led to residents, with support from Assemblyman Jeff Dinowitz, filed a lawsuit. But last night, DEP was again proposing to use blasting, saying their current method of hoe-ramming is taking too long and is not an efficient method for the size of the rock.

At the meeting, DEP officials presented their proposal for Phase Two of the construction project and also presented an abbreviated version of a “tech memo,” which they say provides detailed information about blasting. The DEP did not bring copies of this memo, and instead directed residents to the DEP website to view the 80-plus page document. (We are still searching for the document online.)

Residents again expressed their frustration with the lack of transparency and demanded that DEP submit a supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) as blasting would be a deviation from the original EIS, which states that no drilling or blasting would take place at the reservoir.

DEP official, Angela Licata, said that the use of blasting was a minor change and referred to the Environmental Conservation Law that states that a supplemental EIS must be submitted if changes are made that affect the environment. Licata said that this will be a construction changes that would not affect the environment, and therefore DEP would not submit a supplemental EIS. She explained that, although hoe-ramming was not listed as a method, it was listed within the document as equipment. Licata responded to several audience members who shouted that DEP was lying and admitted that DEP could have done a better job of informing the community.

“I don’t think we did a very good job of describing hoe-ramming [in the original EIS],” she said.

If DEP uses blasting, it will be in the second phase of the project, which could start as early as September. Phase Two is expected to last three months. Since school will be in session, DEP is planning to blast before and after school hours, but officials explained that blasting would only last several seconds, once or twice a day, three to five times a week, compared to hoe-ramming, which is a constant sound throughout the day. (Apparently, the Bronx High School of Science has been complaining about the noise levels of hoe-ramming and DEP has agreed to work around the school schedule.)

When pressed by one Scott Tower resident, DEP officials said they would be happy to place a vibration monitor in the building to measure the effects of blasting, which DEP says will be minimal at worst and unnoticeable at best.

Anne Marie Garti, president of the Jerome Park Conservancy asked if there would be water in the reservoir during blasting. DEP officials said that although they don’t like to do it, they may have to keep water in the reservoir.

At the end of the meeting, the committee voted to propose that DEP conduct a supplemental EIS. The committee said this would alleviate the concerns of the community as the EIS is a formal process and DEP’s tech memo is not.

DEP officials projected that construction will last until 2012. The next meeting will take place in May.


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