Sediment entering Lake Hopatcong resulted in a call to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Morris County’s hazardous materials crew.

It was the second time in a year haz-mat was brought in to Prospect Point. Both state and county officials are familiar with that area since last year’s diesel fuel spill into the lake. But this time, no hazardous material was discovered, according to Morris County public information officer Larry Ragonese.

Resident Lou Tarascio contacted the DEP when he saw silt in the stream leading to the lake from Weldon Quarry on February 8. Tarascio and some neighbors also confronted the Lake Hopatcong Commission at its meeting on Monday, February 11. One resident contended there was a “blowout” at the quarry that resulted from over-pumping.

Silt flowing downstream on February 8, 2019. (Photo provided by Lou Tarascio)

The DEP brought the county haz-mat team in to determine what was flowing into the stream. Ragonese said they found no contaminants, chemicals, or toxins – just dust. Heavy rain the night before the incident could have driven dust into a retention pond at the quarry, where it was found, and then down into the lake.

Silt leaks from nearby creek into Lake Hopatcong by Shore Road on February 8, 2019. (Photo provided by Lou Tarascio)

The matter was referred for possible further action to the DEP, whose spokesman said that siltation in a stream can be a problem from a flooding or biota perspective if it is significant enough to alter the course of the stream or create erosion. However, the current issue has not reached that point.

Quarry owner Bob Weldon said that although the creek is on quarry property, only dirt and dust can extend that far – not residue from the mining operation. He agreed with the DEP’s assessment that the heavy rains last year and early this year are not normal conditions. “In 2018 we lost 77 days of work to rain,” he noted, explaining that his workers cannot pave or lay concrete in wet conditions.

Neighbors who attended the Lake Hopatcong Commission meeting said that the quarry has often been a source of dust in the area. In a telephone interview, Weldon stated that a water truck sprays for dust in dry weather. The majority of the quarry property is in the borough of Hopatcong, although the main entrance and the scale house are in Jefferson Township.

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