Cherry farmers pitted against gravel quarries over dust

Dr, Brian Moench was reached out to comment on the issue of dust and particulate matter negetively affecting Utah orchards. Here is the coverage from Beaumont Enterprize:

State law limits the opacity of quarries’ dust plumes to 20%, or 10% off-site, but this standard is difficult to enforce and some critics call it “absurd.”

“It’s about as unscientific as anything you could apply to this situation,” says Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. “The whole thing is slanted toward allowing these operators to do whatever they want.”

To reduce dust emissions, his group urges operators to use natural gas-powered trucks instead of diesel, to cover their loads, to clean trucks between trips, and to relocate mines to less windy and populous sites. Sand and gravel deposits can be found along 2,000 miles of Lake Bonneville’s ancient shorelines rimming the valleys of northern Utah, says John Macfarlane, a neurosurgeon on Moench’s board.

“If you go over a valley or two to the west, you can (mine) with much less effect because there is no local population,” Macfarlane says. “If they go a little farther away, they can still make their money, just not as much.”

The physicians group insists the Utah Department of Environmental Quality should do more to track dust emissions, conduct more frequent quarry inspections, and establish a hotline for residents to report dust incidents.

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Cherry farmers pitted against gravel quarries over dust
Photo by Leah Hogsten