Crushing a community's dreams

February 3, 2023

As a resident of Bridgeville, I have deep concerns and objections to pending case No. 12789 before the Sussex County Board of Adjustment. The applicant, FDPN Management LLC, seeks a special-use exception for a potentially hazardous use – concrete crusher – to support the manufacturing and recycling associated with a concrete batch plant. The property is located on the west side of Route 13, a third of a mile north of Cannon Road.

I strongly believe the proposed use of the site for a concrete crusher presents a clear and present danger to nearby residents, both in terms of noise and air pollution. The site is directly across the street from a residential subdivision of about 50 homes and within 1,200 feet of Phase 6 of the Heritage Shores residential planned community that will include more than 200 homes. As more research emerges about the relationship between air quality and health, we're learning about the particularly dangerous impacts of particulate matter. More specifically, we're learning that it's not just about harmful chemicals in our air, but tiny particles that stay suspended in the air for hours or even days and can travel significant distances. At issue here is what's known as fugitive dust. As the concrete rubble is dumped from trucks, moved and crushed, plumes of silica dust waft upwards into the air.

That fugitive dust can contain hazardous chemicals, which is bad enough. But the dust itself is another name for particulate matter which is, in effect, microscopic particles that can act like sand in the gears of the human body's engine.

Particulate matter kills. In children, it exacerbates asthma. In adults, it leads to chronic lung disease which, over time, can stress the heart as it struggles to push blood through increasingly leathered lung tissue, leading to premature heart attacks and heart failure. A recent review of scientific literature found that particulate matter exposure predicted higher rates of all-cause mortality resulting from increases in death due to lung cancer, respiratory disease and cardiovascular disease.

Noise from the stone-crushing plant arises from the use of crusher plant mechanical equipment such as generators, compressors and electric motors as well as the diesel engines of construction equipment and their backup alarms. With hundreds of residents living close to the site, combined with the small size of the site, significant noise pollution will extend beyond the site and into residential areas.

The resulting air and noise pollution from the placement of a concrete crusher on this site will significantly negatively affect the nearby residents from both health and quality-of-life perspectives. Therefore, the applicant's request for a special-use exception must be denied. There are wide swaths of Sussex County where there are no nearby residents. These areas are more appropriate for placement of a concrete crusher. This is not a case of NIMBY (not in my backyard), it is instead a case of NIABY (not in anyone's backyard).

Clifford Oliver, Ph.D.


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