RMI quarry above Glenwood Springs slapped with noncompliance order from BLM
The Rocky Mountain Industrials limestone quarry north of Glenwood Springs is officially on notice that it is operating outside the scope of its approved plan of operations and has 30 days to correct the situation, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said.
The BLM’s Colorado River Valley Field Office on Tuesday issued a formal Notice of Noncompliance to the south Denver-based mining company, along with an order to come into compliance.
Specifically, the letter from BLM Field Manager Larry Sandoval to RMI CEO Brian Fallin notes four violations, including:
- The quarry mill bench and lower access road are not within the authorized 15.9-acre area approved in the 1989 modified plan of operations;
- The current highwall portion of the quarry does not comply with the approved plan;
- Stormwater structures have been constructed outside the approved area;
- The mill bench topsoil pile is inadequate for future site reclamation and not properly graded.
The noncompliance matters had been documented by the BLM as far back as January 2017. RMI officials were informally notified at that time that they needed to be addressed.
When RMI applied with the BLM in November 2018 for a major expansion of the limestone quarry, the BLM said it would address the noncompliance issues as part of the required National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review of those plans.
“However, BLM has concluded that a combined NEPA review effort is not feasible due to the time needed for preliminary work that must be completed before BLM can thoroughly analyze the proposed mine expansion,” the Tuesday order states. “The BLM, therefore, is issuing this order for separate resolution of the noted issues.”
RMI has requested to increase the size of the operation at the base of Transfer Trail from roughly 16 acres up to 320 acres and from 20 truckloads currently per day to 500 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The plan would also include a railroad loadout facility on Devereux Road.
When the expansion plans first came to light, the Glenwood Springs Citizens Alliance (GSCA) organized in opposition to the proposal. The city of Glenwood Springs and other civic organizations have also stated their formal opposition, and Garfield County has said the mine is operating outside of the county’s separate permits. RMI has disputed the county’s authority over the mine.
The Citizens Alliance has also sued the BLM for failure to properly regulate the mine.
“We are encouraged to see that BLM is finally dealing with RMI’s failure to comply with its permits, which the Alliance and the Glenwood Springs community have been urging for years,” GSCA President Jeff Peterson said.
But, the BLM’s notice doesn’t address what he said is another, more serious compliance problem.
“RMI continues to mine, process and sell common variety limestone from our public lands while lacking the proper approvals for that type of sale,” Peterson said. “This issue is what necessitated the GSCA’s lawsuit against BLM in 2020 and still hasn’t been resolved.”
Per the Tuesday order, RMI now has 30 days to update its approved plan of operations to come into compliance and submit a reclamation plan for the areas that the BLM says were disturbed in violation of that plan. RMI can also seek an appeal of the BLM’s decision and request a stay until that appeal is complete.
RMI did not immediately return requests for comment.
The noncompliance notice and order only apply to the areas where the current operations at the Mid-Continent Quarry are out of compliance, BLM Upper Colorado River District Public Affairs Specialist Eric Coulter said.
The expansion proposal remains under review by the BLM, which could involve a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), before a decision is made. The Citizens Alliance and others have called for the more-intensive EIS review.
“We will continue to simultaneously review that proposal while dealing with the noncompliance issues,” Coulter said.
The NEPA process has been on hold pending an ongoing analysis to determine the type of material that is currently being extracted from the quarry, he said.
In the meantime, the quarry continues to operate.
“If RMI does not comply with the requirement of this notice, BLM may take further action … requiring immediate temporary suspension or temporary or permanent cessation of all or part of the use and occupancy of the mill facility site,” the Tuesday Notice of Noncompliance states.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.
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