Advice from Environmental Engineer, F. L. Green, on Reclamation at the CGP Sites --From hearing, July 8, 1997--
On Subjects Including:
Mulch and Fertilizer
Need for Performance Standards & Financial Guarantee
COUNTY OF SANTA FE
BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
[July 8, 1997]
IN THE MATTER OF )
CERRILLOS GRAVEL PRODUCTS ) CDRC CASE NO. MIS 97-5230
INC., APPLICANT )
AFFIDAVIT OF FRANCIS LAVAL GREEN
Francis Laval Green, being duly sworn, states:
1. My name is Francis Laval Green and my address is . . . . [In 1997, Mr. Green lived in Socorro, NM.]
2. I am a trained professional environmental engineer employed by the firm of Suntech Construction Management and Technical Services. I have extensive experience with mining reclamation. I am also familiar with Santa Fe County given my position on the Santa Fe County Mine Plans Review Board and as an expert witness in the Clean Water Act litigation related to the Cunningham Hill Mine Site. My resume is attached as Attachment A.
3. I am an expert witness for Concerned Citizens of Cerrillos and several members of the Cerrillos and Highway 14 communities in the above-captioned matter. In this capacity I have familiarized myself with documents relevant to the Applicant's reclamation plan and the CDRC conditions.
4. The documents I have reviewed are:
--CDRC approved conditions dated June 2, 1997 contained in a letter from Rudy Garcia to Cerrillos Sand and Gravel;
--CDRC approved conditions with suggested modifications from Concerned Citizens of Cerrillos and several members of the Cerrillos and Highway 14 communities dated June 30, 1997;
--Article XI of the Santa Fe County Land Development Code;
--excerpt of Romcoe-Oxymin Cerrillos Study Report 5 dated April 1976 (parts 1 and 3; composite biological studies);
--exhibits relevant to reclamation plans contained in Draft Revised Operating, Reclamation & Terrain Management Plan,
Cerrillos Gravel Products, Inc., dated February, 1997
[hereinafter "Revised Plan"];
--entire text of the Current Operating, Reclamation & Terrain Management Plan (without exhibits), Cerrillos Gravel Products, Inc., dated May, 1997 [hereinafter "Current Plan"];
--summary of comparison of CGP reclamation plan to reclamation plan for Cunningham Hill Mine Site as presented by counsel for Concerned Citizens of Cerrillos and several members of the Cerrillos and Highway 14 communities at May 29, 1997 CDRC hearing (Attachment B);
--Soil Conservation Service Soil Survey for Santa Fe County;
--7 1/2 minute USGS quadrangle map for Applicant's site;
--aerial photo provided by CGP to community members on May 23, 1997 site visit;
--Thatcher & Hart, Spy Mesa Yields Better Understanding of Pinyon-Juniper in Range Ecosystem, Journal of Range Management (September 1974) [hereinafter "Spy Mesa study"];
--excerpt from Harshbarger and Associates, Water Requirements and Aquifer Analysis for In Situ Leaching Pilot Test Cerrillos, New Mexico 10-11 (November 8, 1976); and [Page 3:]
--John Shomaker & Assoc., Assessment of Hydrogeology and Sediment Yields from Surface Water Runoff, Cerrillos Gravel Products, Inc. 3-4 (January 1997).
5. Based on this review I have reached the following conclusions regarding the proposed reclamation plan and conditions.
LIKELIHOOD OF RECLAMATION SUCCESS
6. The proposed reclamation plan will not succeed. Based on the description of the proposed growth medium, 4-6" crusher fines, I do not believe this material will be able to sustain plant growth at this fairly arid site. The lack of precipitation is shown in exhibit IV-4 from the Revised Plan exhibits.
7. I have reviewed exhibit IV-2, chemical analyses of topsoil and crusher fines by Metric Corp. from the Revised Plan exhibits. Neither this exhibit nor any of the other documents I reviewed indicate the sampling methodology, the sample locations, or the sampling chain of custody. Based on the soil survey and my knowledge of Santa Fe County, I strongly doubt that these analyses are representative.
8. In general, crusher fines will not have sufficient clays, silts, nutrients or organisms such that they can sustain plant life. Clays and silts are needed because of their cation exchange capacity which allows nutrients to be exchanged. Nutrients and organisms are necessary because without them soil is effectively "dead." By this I mean that the soil will lack the conditions necessary to create the microbial elements needed [page 4:] for plant growth.
9. The Spy Mesa study, cited by the Applicant in the Current Plan at page 13, does not support Applicant's contention that 4-6" of crusher fines will be a successful growth medium.
10. The Spy Mesa study does not involve reclamation of surface mined areas. Instead, it focuses on species established naturally at a site over an undetermined time period under largely unspecified growth conditions. Therefore, this study is completely irrelevant to the question of whether 4-6" of crusher fines at the Applicant's site under the conditions proposed by the Applicant will succeed in growing anything. The basic thesis of this study is that grasses are unlikely to be established in the environment analyzed absent natural fire events. This underscores the irrelevance of this document to the question before the County.
11. I do not believe that the soil profile discussed in this study is comparable to the crusher fines the Applicant intends to use. Further, the site analyzed in the Spy Mesa study has a lower elevation and higher precipitation than the Applicant's site. Finally, from the scale presented in the study it appears that only one of the plots has soil profile as thin as 6" of growth medium.
12. The CDRC conditions require that native trees be established at the site as part of the reclamation. However, nothing in the Applicant's submittals demonstrates it can successfully establish trees at this site.
APPROPRIATENESS OF SEED MIX
13. The seed mix proposed for the site may not be appropriate for this site. A seed mix needs to include annual plants which will establish quickly and will serve to prevent erosion and to condition the growth medium. The seed mix proposed by the Applicant does not include such annual plants.
14. The Applicant seeks to bolster its proposed seed mix by suggesting that Lac Minerals is having good results at the Cunningham Hill Mine Site in using a seed mix similar to that proposed by the Applicant. This is a false comparison. The seed mix at the Cunningham Hill Mine Site for roughly comparable areas includes 5 grasses, 4 forbs, 3 bushes, and 6 tree/bushes. On the other hand, the Applicant's proposed seed mix contains 5 grasses and one legume.
15. The Applicant has not supported its assertion that this
seed mix will be appropriate.
MULCH AND FERTILIZER
16. The mulch proposed by the Applicant is inadequate to the task of establishing vegetation at the site. The Applicant proposes 1 1/2 tons/acre of mulch. A minimum amount of mulch for this type of site, in my opinion, is 3 tons/acre and 6 tons/acre would be optimum for these difficult conditions.
17. The Applicant's plan has no detail regarding how the mulch will be applied at the site. This is important because mulch that is improperly applied will wash away and not contribute to revegetation success. The mulch should be applied [Page 6:] using some type of mulch tucker which can incorporate the mulch into the growth medium.
18. The Applicant's plan includes no fertilization. This is a mistake. Without fertilization there will be an insufficient quantity of nutrients naturally available in the Applicant's proposed growth medium. It is important to note that the reclamation scheme being used by Lac Minerals (which the Applicant points to as a guide) includes 110 pounds/acre of fertilizer.
NEED FOR PERFORMANCE STANDARDS
19. The Applicant's plan and the CDRC conditions contain no performance standards. If this is really the County's intent there is no guarantee that even the best designed and conducted reclamation plan will succeed. Given the marginal nature of this plan, performance standards are essential if the County is to have any confidence that the plan will work as intended.
20. One good example of the need for performance standards is the subject of irrigation. The Applicant states that irrigation will be used ("night watering") as needed. Irrigation will be critical to establishing vegetation at the site and must be conducted carefully so that the plants, if established, can ultimately be weaned (see Current Plan at 15) from the irrigation system and survive naturally.
21. The current plan and conditions give the County no idea of how the Applicant will accomplish this difficult task. Either the Applicant needs to supply a convincing plan for successfully [Page 7:] irrigating the site or the County should impose a performance standard for revegetation success after irrigation is concluded.
22. The CDRC approved conditions with suggested modifications from Concerned Citizens of Cerrillos and several members of the Cerrillos and Highway 14 communities dated June 30, 1997 include a performance standard. This standard closely follows the standard contained in the New Mexico Mining Act Rules and would be appropriate for this site.
23. The CDRC condition regarding a financial guarantee, while an important step in the right direction, is still likely to provide the County with inadequate protection. For a relatively small site such as the Applicant's, the cost of mobilizing equipment and crew for reclamation work comprises a larger fraction of reclamation costs as compared to a larger site. The mobilization costs even for a small site such as this are not substantially smaller than for a much larger site and strict application of the NMSHD cost estimating schedules probably does not take this into account.
24. A proper financial guarantee for this site should be at least double a per acre figure used for a standard site. It is critical that the County encumber sufficient funds to allow it to undertake or complete the reclamation if the Applicant does not. Otherwise the County is at financial risk.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.
------------------ Top page 1 -- Contents
Satellite 1996, NASA, Oct. 6, 1996
To aerials 1997
To close-up, 1997, SE
To close-up, 1997, SW
To close-up of pit area, 1997
Two other views, 1997
To aerials 1998, 1&2
To aerials 1998 3&4
To aerials 1998 5&6
To aerial 1999 & close-up
Post Oxymin Image (after 1978)
Aerials of "Becho" Area, 1993-9