BLM issues ‘Noncompliance Order’ to RMI over quarry operations

RMI must bring its plan of operations up to date or face suspension

On Tuesday, Aug. 30, BLM Field Manager Larry Sandoval sent a ‘Noncompliance Order’ to Rocky Mountain Industrials (RMI), citing four compliance issues at its limestone quarry.

BLM documents show the agency knew of ongoing permit violations from the previous quarry operators dating back to at least 2012.

When RMI purchased the operation in 2016, BLM gave the company a temporary pass on dealing with permit violations. The agency agreed that the violations could be remedied “within a reasonable amount of time.”

RMI submitted its controversial plan for a mine expansion in 2018, which included remedies for the permit violations. While RMI expected speedy approval from BLM, the process to review the proposal has been stalled for the ensuing four years, and BLM has taken no action on the permit violations until now.

“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,” said Jeff Peterson, president of the Glenwood Springs Citizens’ Alliance.

“Unfortunately, BLM’s notice doesn’t address 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.

“RMI’s continuing business model of selling limestone for ‘common variety’ purposes, such as road base, riprap and decorative rocks, is what necessitated GSCA’s lawsuit against BLM in 2020. This violation still hasn’t been resolved,” he added.

Aerial photo showing boundaries of the authorized boundaries of the limestone quarry.In the Aug. 30 order, BLM cited these four compliance issues:

  • Grading and sloping for the mill site and the lower access road are not “within the authorized area in the approved plan of operations.” (See graphic at right to see the boundaries of the authorized area.)
  • 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 storage pile is inadequate for future site reclamation and not properly graded.

BLM’s order gives RMI 30 days to pursue one of these two remedies:

  • Submit a proposed modification to the current plan of operations to reflect current conditions at the quarry, and to “bring operations in compliance with applicable regulatory standards.”
  • Submit a reclamation plan for all surface disturbance and facilities not authorized in the current plan of operations.

If RMI fails to comply by Sept. 30, the order states, “BLM may take further action … by requiring suspension of all or part of the quarry operation.”

Sandoval also sent the company a separate ‘Notice of Noncompliance’ on Tuesday, focusing on RMI’s occupancy of the limestone mill facility. The mill sits at the foot of the quarry and is outside the area authorized for occupancy.

This notice also calls for compliance within 30 days. If RMI does not comply, the notice states, “BLM may take further action … requiring immediate temporary suspension or temporary or permanent cessation of all or part of [RMI’s] use or occupancy of the mill facility site.”

In 2019, Garfield County cited RMI for similar violations to the company’s county-issued special use permit. In response, RMI sued the county, lost on most points, and has now appealed the decision to the Colorado Court of Appeals.

RMI is allowed to appeal BLM’s new order and notice to the U.S. Interior Board of Land Appeals within 30 days.

News coverage:

Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Aug. 31, 2022
RMI quarry above Glenwood Springs slapped with noncompliance order from BLM

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