Following changes to the Environment Quality Act (EQA) in March 2018, amendments were made to the regulation on quarries and sand pits, particularly concerning noise and vibrations. They entered into force on April 28, 2019.
The old regulations imposed a noise level limit only if the operation was less than 600 meters from a dwelling for a quarry or 150 meters for a sand pit. The threshold levels were 40 dBA from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and 45 dBA from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Since April 2019, thresholds for sound levels emitted by operations apply to all homes or public establishments, regardless of the distance to the site. The rating sound level for a one-hour interval shall not exceed the higher of the following sound levels:
• Residual noise
• 40 dBA between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and 45 dBA between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
In addition, in the new regulations, the operator is required to have a professional assess the sound levels every 3 years or less at the level of a dwelling or a public establishment located less than 600 meters from a quarry or 150 meters from a sandpit.
Before the new regulations, the operator was prohibited from emitting seismic waves with a speed greater than 4 cm/s within 30 meters of a building. Since April 2019, the air velocity and overpressure measured at a home or public establishment during a blast must not exceed 10 mm/s and 126 linear dB respectively. Projections of mineral substances outside the operating site are prohibited.
In addition, the operator must now implement a good blasting practice procedure. It includes in particular a vibration monitoring program, i.e. particle velocity and air overpressure, and a communication program with citizens living 1 km or less from the site as well as with municipalities concerned.
Other changes, outside of the area of acoustics and vibration, have come into effect. For example, certain activities are eligible for a simplified authorization procedure, namely a declaration of conformity. Stricter location standards now apply, in particular for the protection of drinking water sources, ecological reserves, habitats of threatened or vulnerable species. Finally, other new provisions regarding dust control and site remediation have been introduced.