Oct 14 2007

I guess this is old news. After all, Vulcan's giant hole off Court St. in Maryville severed Duncan Branch creek over 10 years ago now. It is still sad to me, though, and to those who grew up in the area and played in the creek as children.

Duncan Branch was a spring-fed creek that is found on maps that date back over 100 years. It flowed year-round with clear, clean water. Then Vulcan expanded the quarry right over the stream bed, and now the creek flows into the hole.

The picture below was taken during Vulcan's open house on 9/11/07 (complete with free BBQ). The quality isn't very good; the light was fading and it was taken through the tinted windows of a moving bus. Still, if you look carefully you can make out the little waterfall (see circle, and close-up view). That's what's left of Duncan Branch, flowing into the hole.

Keep in mind that this picture was taken during one of the worst droughts in recorded history. A few years ago I questioned a quarry representative on the lack of water in the creek, and his response was "Sometimes springs dry up." Right.

Unfortunately, TDEC has been of no help (which is really no wonder, since the state mining regulations were written by mining consultants). Their position is that they can only regulate water pollution. The complete elimination of water apparently is not their concern.

Vulcan uses the water that flows into the quarry for their own purposes, for processing rock and dust control. If there is any excess, they pump it into what used to be Duncan Branch creek.

I'm afraid rock quarries don't make very good neighbors. Some free BBQ every few years does not compensate for the blasting, constant truck traffic, clouds of dust, incessant noise, hideous eyesores, and destruction of the environment.

Thanks for posting this

Thanks for posting this entry. I did not know about the history of this creek and its relationship to the quarry.

I also received an invitation to the BBQ but it seemed like a NON-invitation since I received it after the RSVP deadline. I'm glad to know that people like you attended with your eyes wide-open.

Have they ramped-up their public relations recently? I've been thinking so, and I've wondered cynically what's coming next with this company. I hope a reader will tell me that I'm being paranoid, as I am too busy trying to keep diesel exhaust (from the trucks carrying their product) out of my house to deal with something new.

Yes, of course they have an agenda...

They want to expand the quarry towards Montvale Road. Back when Maryville residents were having the 2020 Vision meetings, Vulcan tried to pit the residents on the east side of the quarry against those on the west. Their pitch was that they would come farther east unless they got approval to go west.

I hate conspiracy theories but...

The City tried a similar tactic(pitting neighbor against neighbor) in the Montvale Rd widening "visioning" process. Everyone ended up looking like horses asses in the end, and plans have moved to the next step to widen the road with a "compromise" solution.

Wasn't that an environmental concern?

I'm surprised TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation) would approve such a thing as cutting off a creek entirely.

Well, maybe not ALL that surprised.

TDEC is supposed to protect the environment, right?

I was at a public meeting a few years ago when Vulcan's surface mining permit was up for renewal. There was an impressive number of concerned citizens in attendance (25 or more), and quite a few got up and voiced concerns about the quarry in general, and the creek in particular.

The TDEC officials at the meeting promised to review the concerns raised, but soon thereafter Vulcan had their renewal. TDEC said as long as the water being discharged from the quarry met pollution guidelines, there was nothing that they could do.

It is hard not to be cynical about the government. I have to admit that I no longer even try.

A sobering view

The satellite view of the quarry is a pretty sobering sight. See all the empty fields to the west of the quarry? If Vulcan gets their way, that'll be a ghastly scar just like the current hole. They would also like to cut a road out to Montvale for more trucks.

View Larger Map

Sobering view

I would hate to see those trucks all over Montvale Road. Surely Vulcan recognizes that whether they were there *first* or not, their activities are not a proper centerpiece for such a lovely town as ours and expansion is out of the question.

Water consumption and a quarry near by

It is probably a given that a nearby creek to a quarry operation will dry up, especially during a drought. A quarry uses a lot of water in their operation and is, or let's say SHOULD, be monitored by the state's environmental agency and be addressed BEFORE a permit it given to the quarry during the Environmental Impact phase of the permitting process.


When and if the creek returns watch out for signs of "acid rain". Acid rain will leave the water with a low ph and the fish and other living organisms will not live.

R.I.P. Duncan Branch

Yes, the quarry does use a large quantity of water. Aren't they lucky they don't have to buy it from the city? Instead, they have a free source of spring water that is flowing even in the midst of this extrodinary drought.

Environmental concerns aside, I always thought that the upstream water users had an obligation to preserve the flow of water for the downstream users. I guess I watched too many episodes of Bonanza as a kid. :-)

Although it is worse now than in recent years, no doubt because of the drought, the creek flow has been on and off for over 10 years. There is only water in the creek when Vulcan's pump is running. One minute it will be dry, the next there will be a robust flow. This makes it impossible for the creek to support any aquatic life.

After numerous complaints, they have made an attempt over the last several years to even out the flow somewhat; still, they only pump what they don't need. Basically, Duncan Branch is now Vulcan's drainage ditch.

Thanks for the info...I

Thanks for the info...I would like to add to this conversation from experience in Michigan. In 2001, a year of drought conditions in MI, there was BIG news in the state on the effects the dewatering process of quarries were doing to the water supplies of many of the state's counties. Just think about the water consumption that it takes for the process - just to keep 'dust' under control comes to mind. Here's a link from USGS and there are many others. (An added note: people in the area should watch that creek for signs of acid rain. It will lower the ph levels of the stream to the point it will not sustain life - fish or plant.)


Quarry dewatering

"The amount of water withdrawn for quarry dewatering has more than doubled since 1991. Quarry dewatering is the largest ground-water use in Monroe County. About 20 Mgd (million gallons per day) were withdrawn in 2000—this is about 75 percent of the total ground-water withdrawals for the County (fig. 4). Withdrawals were 9, 14, 18, and 20 Mgd in 1991, 1996, 1999, and 2000, respectively.

Figure 4. Graph showing estimated ground-water use in 2000.

Withdrawals from quarries are reported by the quarry owners to MDEQ as part of the permitting process for discharge to streams. The USGS measured the discharge from one of the largest dewatering operations, London Aggregates, in October, November and December 2001 on the North Branch Amos Palmer Drain at Grames Road. The measured discharges, 9.0, 7.8, and 7.9 Mgd are similar to the reported discharges from London Aggregates in 1999 and 2000 (Ms. Jennifer Rogers, MDEQ, written communication, 2001)."


I can tell you from experience that NO ONE in this state should look to TDEC for ANY type of leadership or guidance with envioronmental questions or problems. They have demonstrated time and again that money talks and they are supported by our state's elected leaders. I liken it to a bunch of prostitutes - high bidder wins.

Wow, some good news at last?

From the MDT:

City Council OKs ordinances on quarries

By Iva Butler
of The Daily Times Staff

Ordinances governing quarry operations in the city of Maryville were passed unanimously on first reading Wednesday night by the City Council. Also passed was an increase in water and sewer rates.

The quarry ordinance amendments declare “quarry operations within the city of Maryville constitute a nuisance because of the emission of dust, sound and vibration and the creation of dangerous excavation areas, as well as the other characteristics inherent in the operation of a quarry. ...

“Expansion of such operations are declared to be a nuisance as well and is prohibited,” the ordinance states.

Greg McClain, Maryville city manager, said, “This formally addresses issues we’ve had for a number of years.”

The ordinance amendment states: “The city of Maryville has through the years received numerous complaints relating to the operations of a quarry inside the city limits.”

The regulations came about through discussions with Vulcan Materials Co. (which has a quarry on Duncan Road) and community members citywide, he added.

“Every effort will be done to reduce materials pulled off any business or processing area on public roads,” he said. Wind-borne particles would not be allowed on streets, and trucks would have to have their loads covered.

The ordinances would set noise restrictions and blasting schedules that would have to be conveyed to every resident living within one-half mile of the proposed blasting site by certified mail. Minimum standards for ground vibration and air-blast overpressure would be set by the ordinance.

Reclamation of the land would also be required.

“The operator of any business or industry that excavates or digs a pit into the earth or operates a quarry as well as any property owner where such activities occur shall submit a restoration/reclamation plan prior to any excavation or any further or continued excavation upon the property,” the ordinance states.

The reclamation would have to start no later than three months following the end of operations and be completed in one year.

A buffer area would be required between the activity and residential property, and quarry operations could not interfere with or impede streams.

McClain said the issues will be thoroughly discussed at a work session later this month. To become law, the ordinance amendments would have to be passed on second and final reading, most likely in February.

So, what about damage to a stream (Duncan Branch) that has already occurred? Would they be responsible for restoration of the stream?

In any event, kudos to Greg McClain whomever else is responsible for this. Let's all hope that it passes. I'm sure Vulcan is not going to take this lying down.

[Moved to the end of

[Moved to the end of thread.]

Pat yourself on the back

Grumpy, we will probably never know if your post was the catalyst for this, but I'm sure it didn't hurt. A very smart lady once told me blogs are not meant to follow the news, they are meant to drive it. When issues normally discussed only at the water cooler get publicly exposed, they become impossible to ignore.

But I agree, anyone involved with correcting this problem deserves our thanks.

I agree. This is great news,

I agree. This is great news, and props to all who made it happen.

At the risk of looking a gift horse in the mouth, aren't there some really nice new upscale developments out there across the road near the Vulcan operation? Wonder if that had anytyhing to do with it?

Good eye

R., you leave no stone unturned. In the lower left corner of the satellite view, you will see a "y" shaped cul-de-sac surrounded by dirt. Very close to the bottom left quad of the quarry. Very close.

You may be right, as I would hope no developer would build here if he/she thought Vulcan would (or would be allowed) to expand. But hey, we put houses on the tops of mountains, why not bottomless pits?


I think that is Trotter "Farms" or something like that.

Good news indeed.

Now can we get these same ordinances in place for Blount County and include dirt mining as talked about on Knoxviews? (link...)

Vulcan fires back

They certainly aren't going to give up without a fight.


I thought the following passage was especially interesting:

Another issue the city raises is the level of water in Duncan Branch which flows through the quarry property.

Bass said most of the water in the pit comes from drainage on the Vulcan-leased property. Vulcan uses only 20 percent of the water and the remainder is put in the creek every day,

"We're not required to put back water, but the mayor (of Maryville) said that's important. It costs us $40,000 to $60,000 annual just to put water in that creek," Bass said.

It is done 24 hours a day, seven days a week, not just when Vulcan is open.

And guess where the "drainage" comes from? A spring, maybe? What about the waterfall in the photo at the top of this thread? It had not rained for weeks when that picture was taken. Drainage my butt.

The 24/7 statement is totally false. Many, many times the creek is completely empty, with no flowing water at all.

Vulcan: responsible corporate citizen or community blight?

Vulcan claims to be a good neighbor. They don't act like it.


Vulcan claims to be a good

Vulcan claims to be a good neighbor. They don't act like it.

It has been my experience that whenever anyone, group or individual, feels the need to so publically proclaim something to be true about themselves the opposite is closer to reality.

Missing DT article

Maryville's legal fees to fight Vulcan $180,000 and rising


Did anyone save this article or have a link that actually still works? It even appears to have been scrubbed from their achieves.

Another escape..

...for the Fourth Estate. Sorry, this is one I didn't save digitally.

I wonder if they are to the point of no longer being embarrassed by the things they pull? Retracting stories, 2am "editing" changes, re-dating stories, scrubbing archives, fixing polls, re-titleling stories etc - What a joke.

Big Meeting Tonight

Maryville is holding a meeting tonight to discuss how best to oppose Vulcan's attempts at expanding its strip-mining operations in the city.


I'll be there.

Evil to the core.

What we are seeing going on in Blount County today, all started with the opening of the rock quarry by the Lambert Brothers.

For those of you who are familiar with local politics, you should have no problem recognizing the family name that is still involved in local politics today.

They no longer own the property but are still very involved in the concrete/asphalt business.

I've heard the question asked about what is driving all this development. The answer is simple: ROCK RUNS BLOUNT COUNTY.

Duncan Spring/Branch may not be running anymore but every bit of the evil pooling up in Blount County FLOWS right back to the Lambert Family and Vulcan Materials.

These people have been doing whatever they want for a long time now. It needs to stop and it needs to stop now.

Not only do I hope that the citizenry of this county and Maryville City Government are able to close down the quarry, I long for the day that the Lamberts are removed from office.

Then and only then, will we be able to have GOOD GOVERNMENT through a non-conflict-of-interest style of governing.

Any relation to....

Hey! Ya think that "Lumpy" Lambert in Knox is related to this bunch over here?! Somewhere along the family tree you can always find the answer.

Interesting Meeting

A large number of people turned out tonight for a marathon meeting that lasted from 7pm until almost 10pm. The main chamber was standing room only; an overflow room had piped-in audio. A Channel 6 cameraman was there to document some of the proceedings.

At the beginning of the meeting the city's lawyer stood up to speak briefly. He pointed out that he was not accustomed to speaking in an public forum about an active lawsuit, with the opposing lawyers present. Awkward! :-) Yes, the Lamberts, Trotters, and others connected with Vulcan were there in force, including their legal team, their PR firm, and their very own court stenographer.

You see, Vulcan wants to try this case in the court of public opinion, because they know the law is on Maryville's side. They have started a large-scale PR campaign to put public and political pressure on the city council to force a compromise. The are conducting push-polls, mailing out misinformation, and seeding the mass media with their spin. It's amazing what some will do for money.

I am happy to report that the pro-Vulcan camp was badly outnumbered. Many good citizens stood at the podium and described in detail what a terrible nuisance the quarry has become. The destruction of Duncan Branch creek, the pollution of the air with dust and diesal exhaust, the noise, the ugly berms, the blasting, the trucks, etc., etc., etc. Good neighbor indeed.

Like one wise citizen stated, every quarry eventually reaches an end point. We can only hope that this quarry is nearing its inevitable end.


Who are the attorneys for the city, and who are the attorneys for Vulcan?

"I think it would be a good idea."
-Mahatma Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilization

The attorney for the city is

The attorney for the city is Bill Vines, (link...).

I didn't get the Vulcan attorney's name.

The DT has an article about the meeting here: (link...)

The players in the Maryville/Vulcan litigation

William D. Vines, an attorney with the firm Butler, Vines and Babb, is attorney of record for the City of Maryville and, in particular, Mr. Vines serves as attorney of record for the City of Maryville in the Vulcan lawsuit.

James C. Wright is a party in the matter of Wright v. Wright. James C. Wright is a member of the law firm Butler, Vines and Babb. Mr. Wright is presently attorney of record in the Vulcan litigation mentioned above.

Judge W. Dale Young is the presiding judge of the matter of Kathy H. Wright v. James C. Wright and the Vulcan litigation.

Mr. Wright and Mr. Vines were present at the meeting at the Maryville Municipal Building and both were acting as attorneys for the City of Maryville. I attended the meeting and saw them there in their lawyerhood.

I have a phrase that I like to use when addressing situations such as the Blount/Maryville/Butler, Vines and Babb/Jimmy Wright and Dale Young connections. That phrase is so important to understand Blount County politics.

Thomas F. Mabry
P. O. Box 52385
Knoxville, TN 37950

Fax 1-888-215-3119
Phone 1-865-671-0598

What the hell is that phrase?

Don't leave us hangin'. What is it?


Never mind...........

Debate time

If anyone feels like a good debate, it looks like poor ole Dusty could use a little help over on the knoxnews board.


2008 Update

Time to get your comments to TDEC folks.


Under the proposed modification, the permitted area will be increased by 13 acres to a new total of 405 acres. Existing treatment structures were designed to include the runoff from the area to be added to the permit, and there are no new treatment structures or outfalls proposed with the permit reissuance. Runoff and process water from the site are treated for suspended solids by settling in a series of sumps and basins prior to discharge at Outfall 001.

State Blasting Law Pre-emption Rule Negates Blasting Ordinance

TCA [ Tennessee Code Annotated ] - State Blasting Law [ 1975 ] Pre-emption Rule [ proposed and sponsored by former Hermitage, Tennessee Explosives Owner ] prohibits any Local Ordinances from addressing Blasting by Rock Quarries !!! Tennessee State House Bill HB1562 and Senate Bill SB0467, 2009-2010 Tennessee State Legislative Session will remove this pre-emption Rule, if and only if, Maryville Council supports a Maryville, Tennesee Resolution to support HB1562 and SB0467 and YOU'ALL contact all State Representatives and Senators to vote for the 2 Bills in 2010 !!!! My email is if you have any questions.... November 29, 2009.

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