Council Gets Preview of DHEC-Quarry Opponents Meeting

WINNSBORO – Thursday afternoon, long after this week’s edition of The Voice had gone to press, residents of the Rockton community met at the County offices with representatives of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to air their concerns and seek answers to questions regarding a proposed granite mining operation intent on breaking ground near their homes off Highway 34. Monday night, the point person for those residents, Dorothy Brandenburg, previewed their concerns for County Council in a 10-minute presentation.

“Whether you’re for or against the quarry, show me the data,” Brandenburg said as she guided Council through a PowerPoint presentation. “In order to make educated decisions moving forward, we need information.”

Brandenburg said she had requested from DHEC additional information regarding the noise level at the proposed quarry, as well as a wind and air quality study and a rock modeling study to determine the effects of blasting. A request had also been sent to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for a ground water survey.

The noise survey, she said, would determine current decibel levels of the area and help set a level over which operations at the proposed quarry could not rise during preset “quiet hours.” The wind study would help determine a dust path, Brandenburg said, while the rock modeling study would give residents an idea of how explosives would affect the area.

Brandenburg said Winnsboro Crushed Stone’s plans to control dust with water spray could have a negative impact on the local water supply, and the DNR currently has no data on Fairfield County’s ground water table.

“How is (the water supply) going to be maintained if this mine comes in and they don’t have the water they thought was in the ground to use on the dust containment system?” Brandenburg said. “The water level is to the point, if we want to wash clothes and take a shower at the same time, we can’t do it. You do one and then the other.”

Brandenburg said there was also a concern about the disruption of area wetlands, as well as habitats for protected and endangered species of animals. There was also a question about the proposed positioning of certain elements of the mining operation, including the company’s rock crushing apparatus, which Brandenburg said appeared to be “economically efficient,” but not “resident-friendly.”

“If you want to operate, all right; but we were here first so we have a right to at least a little bit of accommodation,” Brandenburg said, adding that the goal of the meeting was for the company to hopefully demonstrate “a willingness to work together.”

“That’s really what we want to see at this level of the game,” she said, “what kind of neighbor can we expect to see coming into our town?”

A full report on Thursday’s meeting can be expected in the July 4 edition of The Voice.