Man claims environmental damage from First Rockford development—part 2

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-112308985232499.jpg’, ‘Photo by Ed Schott’, ‘A topsoil pulverizing machine kicks up dust from First Rockford Group development property that drifts onto neighboring properties, including the property of Ed Schott.’);

Part 2—Schott tries again

Editor’s note: We continue the story of Ed Schott, the man whose property is adjacent to a First Rockford Group development in progress at South Pierpont and Montague roads. He accused them of cutting two trees on his property, which management denied. They also disagreed that there was a dust problem.

Schott sent a second letter to First Rockford’s Marc Strauss on June 29, in which he said, in part: “No amount of denial of the cutting of my trees by you … changes the fact that your firm’s operation cut my trees. If [Sunil] Puri or Strauss didn’t do it, then their workers or their contracted firm did… Puri and Strauss or other management should own up to the damage and make correction and compensation even though you have refused to. This damage should have been immediately found by proper inspection, supervision and control.

“The aggravated nuisance problem of the dust has become more severe. My wife has become allergic to your dust and has gone to friends out of state to avoid the dust. She had severe breathing problems caused by your dust. We must continually wash the dust out of our noses. The dust has settled on everything inside the house and outside. I had the car washed Saturday afternoon, and a little rain at night washed mud from the tree leaves onto my car. The mud caused my swim pool filter to become obstructed prematurely and cause back pressure to blow hoses off the pump. The mud has settled in the bottom of the pool. Our only relief is the apparent frequent malfunction of your dust-making apparatus. The neighbors said that you cause them the same dust problem. This problem is much more severe than the leaf burning, which is controlled by health regulations. Your dust causes lung problems which are irreversible. If you contract someone else to remove the native topsoil, you are responsible for all resulting damage…

“You obviously have, and are continuing to destroy the environment with complete disregard. The unnecessary cutting of nice trees without a proper survey and inventory is a flagrant violation of accepted conservation practices. Examples are the beautiful 63-year-old, 32-inch diameter white oak and many other trees over 28-inch diameter. Many big, nice trees were on proposed lot lines and could have been left for nice shade trees.

“The dust problem is due to your selling of the land’s native topsoil. Meridian Topsoil and Composting is buying the native topsoil in bulk of 15,000 and 20,000 cubic yards from Puri! This native black topsoil will not be available for future owners.

“The nice native glacier rocks have been removed and sold or used elsewhere for landscaping in a ‘better’ development.

“All of these things are destruction of the natural environment with your and Puri’s knowledge and without concern. They make the property a low-grade piece of land for the community to absorb only to enrich Puri and partners or family at the community’s future long-term expense…. What will Puri do next for a dollar?”

The Rock River Times contacted Marc Strauss, general counsel for First Rockford Group. His comment was: “No trees have been removed from his [Schott’s] property, nor is there a dust problem.” Contacted by Editor and Publisher Frank Schier, Strauss said, “Those are the only allegations I am aware of, and I specifically deny them.”

Blasting on-site

On July 11, Schott said he was informed by a man from Miller’s Blasting Service, Inc. that the company was going to start blasting on the property. “They are working for Puri’s construction contractor but will have to blast to install the basements, sewer and water lines,” he said. “They scraped all the dirt off the limestone, and they have to blast into the limestone for basements. They’re telling us that they will have blasting going on. I’m concerned about not only the effect on the building structures but also the aquifer where we get our water. We could get pollution in the aquifer.”

The Rock River Times called Miller’s Blasting Service on Tuesday, July 19, and talked to Dave Munsen, safety director, who said, “We started working out there yesterday (July 18).” As to possible effect on the aquifer, he said, “We don’t have any comment on that.” He did not know of anyone at the company who could comment on that.

Schott inquired what type of explosives would be used and was informed that the material was ammonium nitrate mixed with diesel fuel. This is the same explosive mixture used in the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing.

Possible radon hazard

Schott obtained some information from the Web site of the Environmental Protection Agency and other sources. In an article titled “Radon mitigation for new schools,” writer Adam Groff quoted one project manager who said: “When you’re blasting rock, you end up fracturing the rock, and radon can come up through the cracks. The problem with radon is that there’s no way of telling whether you’re definitely going to have radon.”

Other countries are also confronting the problem. In the article “Radiation Protection in Australia” from The Journal of the Australian Radiation Protection Society, we are told: “… in residences in Sweden, the U.S., and now in many other countries… radon emanations from the soil underlying houses can cause elevated radon concentrations in residences in which there are no specific radon sources in the form of building materials. The average radon concentrations found differ in different countries and in different regions of a given country, largely based on the geologic formations and their uranium content, and the physical state of the stratum underneath the buildings in question. Solid rock formations do not insert much radon into the soil gas, but fractured and broken sedimentary formations can emanate substantial amounts of radon into the soil gas.” Schott noted that the limestone the company plans to blast is sedimentary rock.

The Web site from Central Maine Air and Water Services says: “The only way to determine your family’s risk to radon exposure is to have your home tested by experienced licensed professionals, knowledgeable in radon detection, reduction and prevention. Radon levels vary season to season, at different times of day and can be affected by weather conditions; hence it may be best to test during different seasons or perform a long-term test greater than 90 days. Radon reduction to safer levels is easily accomplished by a ceartified and registered radon mitigation contractor. Testing should be repeated every two years, after remodeling, after nearby blasting occurs, or additions are made to your home.”

For people concerned about the environment and First Rockford’s developments, Ed Schott can be contacted at (815) 968-4060 or e-mail

From the Aug. 3-9, 2005, issue

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