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Sand Land Mine in Noyack Faces Regulation

Representatives of FPM Group, an engineering and environmental science consultancy firm,  presented a draft for legislation last month to regulate sand and gravel mines in East Hampton and protect the aquifers from the effects of mining.

The draft was introduced during a town board meeting on February 4, and discusses that mine operators must provide the town with plans to test how their work affects the groundwater. The plan proposes that the mine show detailed plans on how to recover exhausted mines.  

“Residents [are] asking us to support them and write letters of support, opposing the expansion,” Kimberly Shaw, Environmental Protection Director of East Hampton, said.

The firm specifically mentioned a study conducted at the Sand Land mine in Noyac and how, as a result of composting, the aquifer has shown an increase of manganese, iron, pesticides, and other toxins.

The aquifers are an underground layer of water and are crucial to Long Island because they are the main source of water for drinking and irrigation. Sand Land mine sits deep in a groundwater recharge zone of the aquifer, making it even more dangerous when pollutants seep in.

The results of the study done at the Sand Land, mine operated by Wainscott Sand and Gravel, is worrying residents near East Hampton Village because mining not only adds pollutants to the ground but also weakens filtration of its aquifers.

“The most concerning part is we know nothing about it,” Brian Saville, a Sag Harbor resident, said. Saville and his family have owned a house in the Hamptons area for generations and the fact that they are just learning about the mine’s operation now is worrisome.

The mine is used to excavate sand and gravel. Sand is in high demand because it is a key ingredient in the creation of concrete. The demand for concrete is predicted to increase in 2020, mostly due to building construction, according to Concrete Construction.   

“Nobody really likes us,” Janine Astorr, office manager at Wainscott Sand and Gravel, said. “We’re in litigation right now.” 

The mine is not going to be shut down and that they are not the only ones in the area doing things like this, Astorr said. Her boss and the owner John Tintle did not care to comment after being reached out to multiple times.

“Once you dig that big deep hole, then its the other activities that you have going on site [like] composting and fuel storage” Shaw said. “They are accepting debris and just filling the holes.”

The mine previously applied for expansion but was denied. Now residents are seeking reclamation of the land as a whole. Once the mines are used to their capacity the area should be reclaimed by the town so harm cannot be done to the nearby land and underground aquifer, according to Stephanie Davis, head of FPM’s Hydrology Department.

The legislation for reclamation has just been drafted and proposed, but if it is passed mines such as Sand and Land will have to look elsewhere to keep mining.

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