The stone extractive industry does not produce toxic wastes nor it can cause hazardous spills. Neither toxic fumes nor water-endangering wastes are generated in the extraction process or at further stages in the production plants where aggregates are obtained. Nevertheless, the dust which is produced alters the landscape, and this is why all the efforts in this sector are aimed to alleviate these two environmental issues.
The measures adopted to eliminate dust are already put into practice at the very beginning of the extraction process by using hydraulic or pneumatic drills equipped with dust collectors. After the detonation, the affected area is irrigated, this way, the roads and paths are constantly maintained at an adequate humidity level. Treatment plants have water atomizers which are activated when trucks are being loaded. Additionally, these vehicles are not allowed to leave the facilities without previously passing through the wheel washing area. These are some of the corrective measures that contribute to reducing dust almost completely.
Mining operations in a quarry are subject to the Environmental Impact Statement, which is granted by the Environmental Management Agency. Before the extraction activities begin, it is essential that the Environmental Recovery Plan for the area affected by the works is approved. There is also a mandatory security deposit, annually revisable, in order to guarantee that recovery activities will be carried out afterwards. All the companies that belong to AFAPA (Aggregate Producers Association of the Principality of Asturias) meet these requirements and develop ongoing actions which even exceed the current demands. Thanks to the “integrated recovery” method, it is possible to restore the exploited areas using the earthmoving works carried out for the extraction of the aggregates. With this system, up to 20,000 trees, mostly indigenous species, are planted in a year. This method does not return the mountain its aspect back, but guarantees that the place where today machines are working will become a shelter for animals and plants in the future.