Sand and Gravel Extraction Regulations Challenged By Industry

Rhode Island is in great need of sand for erosion control, road building, and septic systems. But existing sand and gravel pits that are already struggling to meet demands, are getting more pressure from increased regulations to reduce impacts, that some say inhibit a much needed industry.
Sand and gravel processing at South County Sand.  Photo Credit: Ambar Espinoza, RIPR

Sand and gravel processing at South County Sand.
Photo courtesy of Rhode Island Public Radio 

“Whenever there’s a—let’s say—a natural disaster, the first phone call goes to the local sand and gravel, or quarry operator,” said Roland Fiore, owner of South County Sand and Gravel, to Rhode Island Public Radio. “[They say],’we need stone, we need sand, etc. to fill in for where the hurricane or the road has collapsed.’ But everybody has forgotten that this material has to be processed, warehoused, and they take for granted that we have it.”

Fiore’s statements come in response to residents in Westerly and Charlestown who complain of rock blasting in nearby quarries, as well as investigations by RI Dept. of Environmental Management to determine air and water pollution, trash, and surrounding wetlands.
Erosion during Superstorm Sandy undercuts the foundations of private homes in southern Rhode Island

Erosion during Superstorm Sandy undercuts the foundations of private homes in southern Rhode Island.

The state is currently underway to locate sand resources offshore as part of the Beach Special Area Management Plan. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the state of Rhode Island signed a two-year cooperative agreement this month totaling $200,000 to evaluate offshore sand resources for coastal resilience and restoration planning.