Hanson Material Service, the company that runs one of two limestone quarries just south of the village of Brookfield, sent a letter to residents of the village living in close proximity on April 16 describing a change in operations and announcing a six-day-per-week underground blasting schedule.
The company, which operates the Federal Quarry between Plainfield Road and East Avenue immediately south of 47th Street, informed residents that its mining operations, which have shifted from surface mining to underground mining, were moving closer to Brookfield.
“During the past two decades, mining was progressing to the south, away from Brookfield,” stated plant manager Ryan Murphy in the letter. “The design of the underground mine requires mining under our entire property and we are currently progressing north, toward Brookfield, from the middle of our property.”
In addition, the letter stated, Hanson was expecting to blast underground daily, Monday through Saturday, between 1 and 3 p.m.
“The underground mining activities include drilling and blasting approximately six times per week in order to dislodge the limestone deposits for further processing,” Murphy stated. “As we refine our internal process related to underground activities, this schedule may be adjusted. We are not mining under your house, we are only mining on our property.”
Noise, vibrations and dust related to the quarry’s mining activities are a fact of life for anyone who lives on the south end of Brookfield.
Debbie Garrison, whose family has lived on the 4600 block of Madison Avenue since 2007, said she’s complained about the blasting multiple times.
“It’s bad between 1 and 3,” she said. “I call every time it’s bad.”
According to Garrison, the blasts shake her brick raised ranch, saying they’re “like really bad thunder.”
At Christmastime, the blasts shake the ornaments on the tree and cracks have appeared in the walls of the home. The family has swapped out the front screen door three times, Garrison said, and is impossible to close completely because nothing is plumb.
While the blasting is noticeable, said Jerry Mei of the 4600 block of Arthur Avenue, “it used to be worse. Years ago they really shook the building.”
Mei, who has lived on the block for 36 years, said you can feel the blasts “every day” and that recently the vibrations feel like they’re rolling from east to west under the ground.
Both Mei and Garrison say the worst thing about living close to the quarry is the dust, which can coat vehicles, plants and shrubs if there are long stretches without rain.
“It’s just terrible,” Mei said. “If there’s no rain for two or three days, cars are coated with quarry dust. It’s just pitiful.”
The letter from the Hanson quarry stated that residents with questions and concerns can call the Lyons Township Quarry Advisory Committee at 866-934-3278.
The committee is comprised of officials from Hanson Material Service; Vulcan Materials Company, which operates a large quarry in McCook south of 55th Street; and representatives from nearby communities, including Brookfield.
Brookfield Village Manager Timothy Wiberg is a member of the committee, which meets quarterly to update the group on operations, track complaints and talk about issues and areas of concern.
Since the letter from Hanson Material Service went out, Wiberg said he’s received two complaints from residents, who he’s directed to the hotline number.