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Jonas Ekblom

Swedish journalist with breaking newsroom experience and prize-awarded photography. Currently reporter at Reuters in Brussels, previously Washington D.C.

Recepient of the 2019 Overseas Press Club Scholar Award and Reuters Fellow. Top-of-class MS (Honors) graduate from Columbia Journalism School.

Previously at Swedish Public Radio (Sveriges Radio) and other outlets.

Gravel producer wants to crush millions of tons of rock in large new quarry, worrying nearby residents

Gravel producer wants to crush millions of tons of rock in large new quarry, worrying nearby residents

Originally published on 12 June 2018 in Swedish as “Bybor oroade när Råsjö kross vill bryta berg i Sörforsa: ”Det blir ju sår i landskapet”

Major gravel producer Råsjö Kross AB, which has produced sand and gravel in the Hudiksvall area for 50 years, and at other sites across Sweden, has applied for permission to open a new open pit quarry close to the town of Sörforsa. The permit applications show that the company wants to produce as much as 10 million metric tons of gravel at the new location. Several residents are alarmed.

Ann-Sofie Hartzén lives close to the proposed site. She expressed worry when she learned about the company’s plans. “It will affect forests and nature that we use every day,” she said.

Several members of a Facebook group for the area say that the area is used frequently by residents. More than one sports club uses the area several times a week, something that Hartzén also mentioned echoed: “This means large changes in the area – there will be a wound in the landscape.”

Other Facebook group members expressed concern that the site Råsjö Kross AB is eyeing is very close to the town of Sörforsa. Less than a kilometer (half a mile) of land stands between the proposed quarry and the town.

Because of this, Hartzén expressed concerns about the risk for noise pollution. She and her neighbors have been spared from noise from the nearby national highway; a new large quarry might change that.

“We like that we live in peace and quiet, close to nature,” Hartzén said.

Stefan Östlund of Råsjö Kross AB. (Photo by Torbjörn Ingvarsson)

Stefan Östlund of Råsjö Kross AB. (Photo by Torbjörn Ingvarsson)

Representatives for gravel producer Råsjö Kross AB, which already has five smaller quarries in the larger region and several others across Sweden, are not worried. They don’t think that the distance between the proposed quarry and the town is too small.

“We already have several quarries at a considerably closer distance to towns and villages,” said Stefan Östlund, who oversees all the company’s quarries.

He admitted that the gravel production and initial breaking of the bedrock will mean some noise, but assured local residents that it will not bother them “too much.”

“We have ordered a noise pollution analysis as part of the larger environmental assessment that is required in the permit application,” Östlund said when pressed on the issue.

Other analyses that environmental laws require Råsjö Kross AB to submit include an inventory of local wildlife, as well as an archeological overview ensuring no historically significant sites will be destroyed in the breaking of the new quarry.

Their applications have been submitted to both the municipal and regional environmental boards, who decides whether to grant the permit or not.

The company plans to break ground for the new quarry in two years, if permits are approved. As part of the permit process, the company has invited local residents to a community meeting on 4 July.

The company produces 3.5 million metric tons of gravel and rock products yearly in the region. The new permit, if approved, would allow it to break 10 million metric tons of gravel from the new site.

Råsjö Kross AB would be allowed to produce gravel, sand and other rock products on the site for a 25-year period. After that, it would have to ensure that the site won’t pose any environmental danger to the area in the future.

(Featured photo archive photo courtesy of Hudiksvall Tidning)

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