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Quarry Sites


This Industry Profile Fact Sheet is presented by the EPA Region 3 to assist state, local, and municipal agencies, and private groups in the initial planning and evaluation of sites being considered for remediation, redevelopment or reuse. It is intended to provide a general description of site conditions and contaminants which may be encountered at specific industrial facilities. This fact sheet is presented for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as a federal policy or directive.


Quarries are open mining environments, where a select stone, ore or rock formation is removed from the surrounding strata. The stone or ore can be further refined on site by smelting, chemical washing or physical cutting and/or crushing before shipment to the end user. The sections of quarry wall containing material of interest can be removed using powered equipment, or dropped in sheets using explosive charges.


The hazardous substances most likely to be present at quarry sites are fuels for heavy equipment, detonators, explosive charges, detonation cord, various metals, and nitrate fertilizers used for large fragmentation charges.


Any of the detonators or explosive charges would be listed as a dangerous waste stream and would require specialized and trained personnel for handling operations. As the explosives industry is highly regulated, an examination of previous quarry permits would indicate what types, if any, of explosives were utilized.

Most quarry operations are conducted below the groundwater table, so constant pumping is required to keep the site dry. An abandoned or unused quarry can fill with water, and are often used as illegal dumping sites for hazardous materials. The intersection of the water table allows easy transport of the fuels and hazardous substances into the surface or groundwater.


All waste materials encountered on site should be visually identified and confirmed using immuno-assay, qualitative indicators, or wet chemistry field screening techniques. It should be noted that many of the waste materials may represent a significant direct contact and/or inhalation hazard to assessment personnel. Explosives constitute a significant threat to personnel. Visually identified contaminated areas, waste piles or pits should be characterized by collecting several samples for laboratory analysis. Surface and subsurface soil sampling should be performed to confirm the extent of the contamination. Once the contaminated areas are established, grid or random sampling may be performed to confirm the suspected clean areas.

On-site and local wells may be sampled if groundwater is an environmental concern. Installation of monitoring wells or other groundwater sampling techniques should be evaluated if it is necessary to fill data gaps.


Heavy Metals Analysis:

Priority Pollutant Organics Analysis (volatiles, semivolatiles, pesticides/PCBs)

Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) series

Region 3 | Mid-Atlantic Cleanup | Mid-Atlantic Brownfields & Land Revitalization

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