Bushkill Creek Protection, Northampton County, PA
The Bushkill Creek is a High Quality, Cold Water Fishery in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. It is a prized wild trout stream, fished and enjoyed by many, spanning several boroughs, townships and communities, flowing into the Delaware River at Easton. As a stream that is protected under Pennsylvania’s Special Protection Waters program, it is protected by regulation against degradation and its existing use as a Fishery is required to be preserved. Substantial evidence, gathered over several years by various agencies and experts, shows that the Stockertown Quarry (the Quarry) owned and operated by Hercules Cement, doing business as Buzzi Unicem USA, is contributing the repeated dewatering and pollution of the Bushkill Creek and surrounding region, including the formation of sink holes in the creek that remove water that is diverted to the quarry. Reports are that adverse impacts occur in the Little Bushkill Creek and on land as well. The Quarry mines limestone.
The Quarry pumps approximately 55 million gallons of water per day from the Quarry into the Bushkill Creek to replace a portion of the lost water that has been uncontrollably diverted there by their mining activity, which has destabilized the hydrologic balance.
DRN believes that in the past twenty years there have been at least 15 events of pump failure resulting in the dewatering of the Bushkill Creek and significant fish deaths, including a severe event on June 5, 2020, killing approximately 2,000 fish and an unknown number of other aquatic species. This event lasted for 15 hours, causing a significant fish kill, including the death of wild brown trout. This is a grievous loss, especially because these are wild reproducing brown trout, not stocked trout, and these fish and the ecosystem they require to thrive is gravely harmed by these events. The last such event occurred on October 15, 2020. Hercules/Buzzi Unicem does not have backup systems in place to operate the pumps when there is an outage or, in the case of October 15, a planned maintenance operation. There is no excuse for his, yet it has been occurring for years and many fish and aquatic species have been lost.
Notification of a Citizen Suit was mailed by Delaware Riverkeeper Network to Hercules Cement/Buzzi Unicem on November 6, 2020. This letter served as a pre-suit 60-day notification for a Citizens’ Suit on behalf of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, its members, and Maya van Rossum in her role as the Delaware Riverkeeper (collectively “DRN”). DRN is demanding that the situation be remedied so that no more dewatering events occur as a result of the Quarry’s mining operation or the quarry operations should be shut down. DRN is prepared to file suit under the Clean Streams Law and the Non-Coal Surface Mining Act, and is also willing to engage in discussions with Hercules Cement should they wish to prevent further harms to the environment and the community that relies upon it.
See the Notification letter and other supporting materials below.