QUARRY UPDATE—-Spring, 2012

Here is an update on the Lummi Island Quarry, submitted to us by Kent Neilson of Lummi Island…

There have been several developments with regard to the Lummi Island Quarry over the winter. A short summary of the principal developments is provided below, but all readers are encouraged to follow the issues on the website lummiislandquarry.com.

The MRL expansion proposal has been put on hold until Lummi Rock, LLC rectifies several outstanding issues.

1. The commercial pier/barge loading facility built in 2006-2007 was never permitted.
The quarry operators have applied for a retroactive permit for this pier/loading facility. Public comments have been submitted and upon review this month, the county planning department will submit their report to the Whatcom County hearing examiner for a decision. In addition, there will be an environmental review (SEPA) for the affected shoreline.
2. Another shoreline issue involves the removal of a sunken barge adjacent to the
quarry. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has issued a permit for this removal and the project is underway. There is concern that this activity will disrupt the local shoreline environment and the associated fish habitat.

3. Consulting hydrologists (RH2 of Bothel, WA) on contract with the Department of Ecology (DOE) are beginning their evaluation of Aiston Creek drainage basin. This is a necessary part of the quarry application for a water right to extract water for dust control. Lummi Island Scenic Estates (LISE) holds the senior water right on Aiston Creek. The consultants will determine whether a second water right can be supported by this water resource. Their report will be generated this spring. If this review is favorable to the quarry, then the next phase will be for a formal water right application to the DOE. In which case, the consideration of this water right application will take place this summer.

4. A “stop work” order was filed by the county on the road built by the quarry operators to access the north and west side of the quarry. This road was constructed outside of the current MRL boundaries and is very close to LISE. The quarry operators are to develop another access route within the existing MRL and are to reclaim this unapproved road. There is no estimate for the time necessary to reclaim the disrupted land, but activity on the road should be stopped now.

5. Once these concerns are met, the quarry operators will most likely return to the MRL expansion proposal. The envisioned expansion will increase the size of the current pit by more than a 100% (from 20 acres to 47.5 acres). The west face of the quarry will extend for ~1300 feet and reach a height of 350-400 feet. This pit cuts into the east side of Lummi Mountain and obviously will be a permanent scar in the landscape with associated noise, air and water pollution. This will not only impact nearby residents and their properties on Lummi Island. It will impact all Bellingham residents as this scenic shoreline is increasingly degraded. Industrial noise will intrude on Inati Bay and its recreational use by the Bellingham Yacht Club. Long term sustainable industries like tourism and recreational boating will be impacted, while increasing pollution to the marine waters will contribute to the further degradation of Puget Sound and critical marine habitat needed to support the salmon fishery. You are encouraged to follow this issue closely on the website established by the Lummi Island Conservancy (lummiislandquarry.com). Dates for hearings and comment periods will be posted. It is important that the many concerns of private citizens and organizations be heard. A successful zoning change will insure that this quarry will continue for decades.

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