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NEWS: Green gravel quarries?

The Globe and Mail‘s Martin Mittelstaedt reports, “First came lumber certified as environmentally friendly, then seafood. Now a move is afoot to give gravel – blasted out of open-pit mines, then hauled out using diesel-belching trucks – the green seal of approval.”

“The Canadian unit of Holcim Ltd., the Swiss-based cement giant, and advocacy group Environmental Defence will announce that they’re establishing a certification standard for aggregates… The effort by the company is an attempt to defuse some of the vociferous opposition from community groups that typically accompanies almost all new gravel pits being proposed in Canada, and at many existing quarries. …Holcim intends to seek a green label for its 25 quarries and sand and gravel pits in Canada.”

“Among the requirements for green gravel, the certification standard would place environmentally sensitive areas off-limits for quarries, would force companies to establish new conservation zones up to three times the size of their pits as offsets, would cut greenhouse-gas emissions (by 15%), and would increase the amount of recycled aggregates they use to cut the need for virgin rocks.”

To be considered green, companies would have to stay out of “provincially significant wetlands” and “ensure that they improve or restore the quantity and quality of groundwater and surface water.” (This latter point suggests a role for the global clean water technology market, now dominated by transnational corporations.)

“Residents who live near the actual quarries, rather than the proposed new conservation zones, might disagree (that gravel pits can be green). Opponents (have) cited among their concerns increased truck traffic; potential negative effects on local aquifers and ground water; dust, dirt and reduced air quality; the introduction of heavy industry into a quiet rural residential area; and noise from blasting and quarry operations.”

“‘Basically nobody wants one of these things close to them. They’re noisy, they’re dusty, they disturb the water (table),’ observes Ric Holt, president of Gravel Watch Ontario, an environmental group.

The full article is at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/quarry-operator-seeks-environmental-seal-of-approval/article2042089/?.