October 24, 2021

DEC says expansion of mine requires more study

A state agency has reconsidered its support for a South Cortland mine expansion project and will require a more in-depth review.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation sent a letter announcing its decision Wednesday to Route 13 Rocks LLC, the entity doing business as Cortlandville Sand and Gravel, which has a facility on Route 13.

The DEC has concluded the project will have a significant environmental effect and will require further analysis after the applicant did not properly respond to concerns. The site is near the Byrne Dairy yogurt plant and Lime Hollow Nature Center.

The state agency rescinded its previous declaration that a mine expansion project — to expand the mine by about 10 acres and dig up to 100 feet below the town’s water table — would have no significant environmental influence, the letter said.

The following concerns were not properly addressed, according to the DEC letter:
n Potential for biological pathogens to enter the public water supply from the expansion.
n Effects to nearby Lime Hollow Nature Center.
n Effects to nearby marl ponds.
n The need to update the spill and prevention response plan.

“As DEC is rescinding the negative declaration, the application is incomplete by operation of law until such time as DEC receives a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and accepts the statement as adequate for public review,” the letter states.

The statement is required during the State Environmental Quality Review when a project is found to have a significant impact on the environment, according to the DEC.

Chris Henry, the owner of the Cortlandville Sand and Gravel, declined to comment Thursday.

The DEC had issued a declaration in January that the project would have no significant environmental impact.

However, following that declaration, officials working for Cortlandville, Cortland and Cortland County voiced their opposition to the finding and mine expansion, saying expansion work could potentially pollute the sole-source aquifer that provides drinking water for the town and the city of Cortland.

These concerns led to the DEC in April sending a letter requiring a response to the concerns by May 14, the DEC said in a statement.

Cortlandville Supervisor Tom Williams previously said his objection to the project stemmed from the potential risk of the expansion polluting the aquifer, which provides drinking water to around 30,000 people in the county.

If pollutants did enter into the water, the town, Cortland and McGraw would need to look elsewhere for water.