Carver: SLT’s mining site violates wetlands, water laws says expert

  Meg Sheehan 

SLT Construction mining site violates state Wetlands Protection Act, does not protect Rickets Pond, drinking water from pollution

Wetlands violations at the SLT mining site  Spring Street head to a legal hearing in early June, 2024.  The mining site is on Route 44 heading east. After leveling the hill and extracting about $10 million in sand and gravel, now SLT is installing commercial buildings. Groups say the company does not have an adequate plan to protect our water from pollution.

The groups are taking legal action to protect our water. In 2022, a residents group and Save the Pine Barrens, a non-profit community group known as the Community Land & Water Coalition, filed a legal challenge to the wetlands permit the Carver Conservation Commission issued to SLT. The permit is to put a building on “Lot 3″on the mining site. The legal case asks the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) judge to make SLT Construction comply with wetlands laws. This is an “administrative hearing” — like court, only at a state agency.

Building on the mine site without protecting water

SLT Construction is leasing lots on the site. SLT Construction is an excavating company. It calls the site “Rickets Pond Business Park” (RPBP).  Since 2018, SLT’s mining has leveled what was the highest hill in Carver.

Find a a timeline of efforts to stop the mine and protect people and the environment here.

SLT has to get a permit from the Carver Planning Board to build the buildings.  When the building will alter wetlands, the Conservation Commission must issue a permit.   Read more about the state wetlands laws here.

SLT wants to put the “Lot 3” building along the shores of Rickets Pond. In the photo below, the new Lot 3 building will be next to the brown pond on the right. See an overview of the “Lot 3” plans here. A building next to it will be on “Lot 4.” The wetlands legal challenge involves Lot 3.

SLT Spring Street, Carver MA Mining Site 20+ acres

Above: SLT Mining Site, Spring Street, Carver MA. March 2023. Stormwater Infiltration Basins shown full of water. Commercial mining has been ongoing since 2018.

Legal challenge to Carver wetlands permit moves ahead: groups submit final expert testimony May 2, 2024 saying entire subdivision violates Wetlands Laws.

The legal challenge is to  SLT’s “stormwater plan” and claims it does not comply with the state Wetlands Protection Act. On May 2, 2024, the public’s expert professional engineer submitted testimony that SLT’s plan for Lot 3 “does not comply with the Stormwater Standards” as required by the Wetlands Protection Act.  He says SLT “specifically manipulated the calculations” for determining how much water the system has to treat. This means the runoff would pollute Rickets Pond, wetlands, and drinking water. Read the group’s February 2024 expert testimony here.  The May 2024 expert testimony is here.

The state agency will hold a hearing on June 6, 2024, to decide whether SLT’s mining and subdivision complies with the law. Read more about that process here.

The state Wetlands Protection Act and the federal Clean Water Act are laws that protect wetlands, drinking water, wildlife habitat, and other public interests. Part of this is making sure that when it rains or snow melts, the runoff that flows into surface and groundwater is clean. When it flows across the land it can pick up things like sand, dirt, oil and grease. This requires a “stormwater plan management” system to catch and clean the water. This can include storm drains and infiltration basins. The two ponds at the bottom of the photo above are called “Infiltration Basins.” They are supposed to catch runoff water and remove pollution before it infiltrates into the underground aquifer that provides our drinking water. Read more about how sand mining harms our aquifer and drinking water here.

Read more about Stormwater Standards here. These laws explain why it is important for big developments like SLT’s mine and subdivision to comply with these laws. Read more about stormwater from the United States Geological Service here.

TheTown’s Earth Removal Committee routinely allows mining to happen

The Town’s “Earth Removal Committee” (ERC) is supposed to protect the public health, safety and welfare from being harmed by sand mines like this. They are responsible for enforcing the Town’s Earth Removal Bylaw. Most members of the town’s ERC  are  involved in sand mining. Read more here: Sand Wars in Southeastern Massachusetts.

Read more about how the Town’s Selectboard and ERC are complicit in illegal sand mining here.

Read more about the state Office of the Inspector General investigation of the Town and sand mining here.

Drone videos show  SLT’s environmental destruction

A drone video from October 2023 shows the current condition of the site — part of the massive environmental over the last six years. Watch the massive destruction of forests in just one day in 2022.

Harm to residents, other lawsuits

Read more here about the years-long impacts on neighbors living next to the mine and efforts to stop it.

Get involved!

Upcoming meetings and hearings!
May 14, 2024, Carver Planning Board 7 p.m. at Carver Town Hall. See the agenda here and plans for Lot 4 here. Does the stormwater plan protect our water?

May 28, 2024, Carver Earth Removal Committee, 4 pm. Hold them accountable.

Sign the petition for a moratorium on sand mining!

More about stormwater runoff and how to stop pollution

Below is a diagram representing an infiltration basin to collect stormwater runoff. The rainwater and snowmelt are fed by pipes into the basin, where it is supposed to be treated for pollution.

Below: SLT’s infiltration basins look like this. They are supposed to be filtering the water before it seeps into our underground aquifer. However, they are missing major parts needed to actually clean the water before it drains into our drinking water. Everyone in Carver gets their water from underground wells. Stripping away the sand removes the filtration protection for the underground aquifer.

Above: SLT infiltration basins, September 2022


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