DEP: Quarry where fatality occurred did not have permit

Times-Shamrock Writer

The Susquehanna County bluestone quarry where a worker was killed did not have a mining permit, the state Department of Environmental Protection said Wednesday.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration will conduct a full investigation of the accident that happened Monday afternoon (March 23) at the quarry on private property off North Road in Bridgewater Twp., Colleen Connolly, spokeswoman for the DEP regional office in Wilkes-Barre, said in an email.

Coroner Anthony J. Conarton identified the victim as Daniel Acker, 48, of 3325 North Road, Montrose.

A preliminary investigation by DEP’s district mining office in Pottsville found Mr. Acker apparently was operating a block saw on a bed of stone with his back to the highwall when, under circumstances still to be confirmed, he slipped on loose material or ice.

The victim fell approximately 53 inches, with the running saw landing on top of him and severely lacerating the back of his legs, DEP said.

The gate to the entrance of the quarry was locked, and emergency personnel who responded had to cut through the lock before they could enter, Connolly said.

The department has not determined whether the delay was a factor in Acker’s death.

DEP investigators met Wednesday with the property owner, Peter Kane, to discuss the accident. Kane said he had leased the land to Acker, a friend who lived in his neighborhood, but did not have a permit to operate the quarry. Sometime during the winter, Acker had expressed interest in cutting stone, but Kane said he was unaware Acker had begun mining stone.

“I lost a good friend and neighbor,” he said.

Connolly said DEP will take no civil action against Kane for the accidental death. However, it will be determined later if civil penalties will be imposed for the quarry operation itself.

Under state law, bluestone operations require a DEP-issued mining permit, and the operator must have a mining license.

“He (Mr. Kane) didn’t have a permit,” Connolly said. “We are looking into what, if any license he had.”

The quarry operation has been shut down, she said.

DEP said the staff from the Pottsville district office will coordinate its investigation and final report with MSHA.

LUKE RANKER, staff writer, contributed to this report.

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