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State report clears quarry

June 16, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

The Maryland Department of Environment found the St. Lawrence Cement Co. to be in compliance with required safety measures and determined how a 6-year-old boy likely gained access to the property and fell to his death, according to a report the agency released Wednesday,

The inspection was prompted by the May 22 death of Avery James Snyder, 6, of 20029 Old Forge Road.

C. Edmon Larrimore, mining program administrator, inspected the quarry on May 24, with plant manager Gary Batey and Mark Burlow of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

A Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration report was not available.

St. Lawrence Cement officials were in Canada Wednesday and not available for comment, spokeswoman Cynthia Oates said.

In a statement issued last week, the company said it was investigating the feasibility of installing fencing at several locations on its property.

"Currently, there is a 15-foot-high by 20-foot-wide dirt and slab rock barrier berm intended to prevent access to extraction areas," the company statement said.

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The quarry company owns 1,200 acres of land with a perimeter of 6.5 miles encompassing Antietam Creek, dense woods and CSX Railroad tracks.

The Washington County Zoning Board of Appeals ruled in 1992 that the company had to create a berm and fence its Security Road property as the quarry excavation progressed.

According to the Department of the Environment investigation, the Snyder property is north of the quarry and abuts the northern limit of the St. Lawrence Cement permit area.

"The boys (Snyder and an 8-year-old friend) most likely entered by foot over a 15-foot high, roughly graded earth and rock berm. The berm has been under construction for about two years and is proceeding as per design and permit," Larrimore's report said.

Because the berm is still under construction, no shrubs or grass had been planted.

"The lack of grass on the berm did not contribute to the accessibility of the site," said Larrimore.

He said the boys proceeded to the second level of the quarry, then walked down a road to the east and back to the west to reach the wall where Snyder fell, the report said.

"The location is a 100-foot-high by 40-foot-wide stone wall, according to the report.

Approximately 10 feet from that area is a more than 4-foot-high stone berm designed to prevent access to the highway and to provide safety to motorists, he said.

"A small area was accessible due to the removal of stone. It is unknown at this time how these rocks were removed. Avery was on that stone safety berm, lost his balance and fell approximately 100 feet to his death," Larrimore said in the report.

Although it was raining on May 22, the quarry was dry, he said.

Larrimore said fencing had been placed along Old Forge Road "where it was thought to be most accessible to trespassers."

That section and the area to the east near Shiloh United Methodist Church are fenced and well vegetated, he said.

"No further follow-up action is warranted at this time," Larrimore concluded in the report.

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