Quarry Update - Environmental Risks of Villemoustaussou Quarry?

Last Friday evening, I received an alarming email about the installation of a quarry several kilometers away from O’Vineyards.  The email said I had until Monday to respond.

Given the lack of detail and the strange time of delivery of the email, I panicked and posted on the blog.  Some of you have graciously offered help with researching this installation.
Iris from Domaine Lisson discovered an avis from the regional prefecture on the Direction Regionale de l’Environnement, de l’Amenagement et du Logement website.

The avis addresses environmental concerns for the surrounding area of Villemoustaussou and concludes that everything seems to be taken into account.  With a few further precautions, they say the project should be allowed to continue.

Environmental risks outlined in avis

The biggest issues are the usual impacts of quarries (?!), noise pollution for the direct neighborhood, traffic from the trucks and impact of that traffic on the countryside, to which we can add (due to the location of the project),

  • the risk of erosion due to the drainage of heavy rain waters or from the upper water table, because the project is located in the alluvial plain of the Fresquel, in a floodzone
  • the potential impact on biodiversity since the project is located in a classified environmental area

Excuse the poorly translated legalese.  This is the best I can do.

Mitigating Factors

The avis goes on to explain that most of this has been taken into account.

  • Taking into account the extreme proximity of the nearest households (40 meters from the project) and the proximity of the Agglomeration de Carcassonne (400 meters) the project will use merlons (pretty stone/dirt walls) to reduce the impact on neighbors, special trucking routes to reduce danger, and watered roads to avoid dust clouds.
  • A study of the mobility of the Fresquel river has moved us to reduce the size of the quarry installation; the current project does not infringe on the area that the Fresquel might move to.  Furthermore, the site will not need a water waste plan because the materials will not be processed on site but will instead be trucked to an already permitted site to be processed.
  • Despite the fact that all alluvial quarries in alluvial water tables have an impact on the draw and quality of the aquifer, this impact will be limited by the weak hydraulic gradient that exists and the absence of dewatering pumps
  • If the 2008 study of the local flora didn’t take into account the protected nature of the zone, the flora inventory executed between 2008 and 2010 is based on field inventories executed during favorable periods like Spring and Summer, which allows us to conclude that the study is globally adapted to the purpose of evaluating the project’s impact on biodiversity.  None the less, certain doubts persist after reading the dossier concerning the risk of destroying protected species that require an adaptation of the project to prevent impacting them.

The full French text, as above, is available on the official government site.

Other online friends have assured me that a project several kilometers away will be pretty much invisible from O’Vineyards.  They say similar projects in the environs of vineyards cause no noise pollution or dust clouds.

Should I be worried?

Having read the report, I see that there are houses less than 50 meters away from the site.  I imagine that the dust and noise aren’t a big deal or they would be clamoring.  However now that I’m researching concrete production and quarries, I’m getting worried about the water table!

The good news is that this is not a concrete processing plant or manufacture or whatever you call it.  They take the stone and materials here and drive them to Valmy where they are already allowed to process the stuff.  The bad news is that it can still cause fluctuations in the flow of the alluvial aquifer.

This whole project is a few kilometers downhill from me.  Does a change in the aquifer draw down there mean that the water table higher up will drain faster or slower?  Or will I be unaffected?

I don’t know enough about geology and rainfall to know how that affects the vineyard.  I’ll continue looking into it.  I guess I have like one day left to research.


How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing

North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Best by GPS.
    Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
  4. At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.