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West Roxbury residents speak out against quarry dumping plan

A quarry owner wants to dump construction soil in the West Roxbury site, raising residents’ fears of health risks. David L Ryan/Globe Staff

West Roxbury residents voiced strong opposition Wednesday night to a proposal from the owner of a local quarry to bury construction soil in the pit, citing concerns about health risks and traffic from the hundreds of trucks that would go to and from the site each day.

The more than 200 residents who packed the Elks Lodge on Morrell Street received a sympathetic hearing from several elected officials, including Mayor Martin J. Walsh and US Representative Stephen Lynch.

The officials assured the residents that they were taking steps to require that the owner of the quarry, S.M. Lorusso & Sons Inc., receive the community’s approval for the proposed soil dumping, and that some of those efforts have already been successful.


The officials, who also included Councilor Matt O’Malley and state Senator Mike Rush, Democrat of West Roxbury, said they are also pressing Lorusso & Sons to present a specific plan for the future of the quarry, where rock has been blasted since the late 19th century, much to the chagrin of residents who have endured noise, dust clouds, and shaking terrain for decades.

Walsh said the owners have told officials that “they can just keep blasting for 75 years.”

“There’s no end game in sight,” Walsh said, adding that the city will convene a citizens advisory committee to work with officials in providing input on the future of the site.

Among the residents who spoke against the plan to dump construction soil at the quarry was Joe Goode, of the West Roxbury Civic and Improvement Association.

“I have a problem with the environmental issues, the methane,” Goode said.

Dan McCann, who lives behind the quarry, said he feared that pollutants from the soil could harm his four children.

“I don’t want my kids growing up having all these diseases,” he said.


A call to the company’s Walpole office was not returned late Wednesday night. The firm did not attend the meeting, at the request of organizers.

Laura Lorusso Peterson, of S.M. Lorusso & Sons, has previously pledged that the soil will not be hazardous.

The company initially proposed filling the bottom of the quarry with 1 million tons of discarded earth from local construction sites, according to documents filed in January with the state.

The urban soil — which can contain lead from paint and other contaminants — would be suitable for an industrial site like a quarry, but not a residential neighborhood, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Facing opposition, the company scaled back the type of dirt it wanted to bury.

The DEP has told the company that because of local concerns about the dirt, the quarry’s owners must outline their plan and receive state approval. That process remains ongoing, and it was not clear Wednesday night when it will be completed.

“This is the largest issue affecting West Roxbury in a generation,” O’Malley said Wednesday night.

Elected officials contend the quarry owners have been evasive about how long they plan to continue blasting the bedrock. The stone is used in asphalt, concrete, and for railroad tracks.

The quarry has offered to stop blasting by 2030 if it can accept dirt and if O’Malley withdraws a zoning amendment, which has passed the council but needs further approval, to require the quarry to get the city’s OK for the construction fill.


“We could have at least another 50 years of blasting,” Peterson told the Globe in June. “The number is all over the place because it all depends on what the economy is asking for as far as stone.”

On Wednesday, Lynch said officials understand that the company has property rights, but that proper planning is essential to protect the community.

“I am in favor of the good health of the people I work for,” Lynch said.

Andrew Ryan of the Globe staff and Globe correspondent Todd Feathers contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen