DHEC Fields Questions at Quarry Meeting

WINNSBORO – Residents of the Rockton and Middlesix communities, concerned with the prospects of Winnsboro Crushed Stone, LLC locating a granite quarry near their homes off Rockton Thruway, met with staff from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) in Fairfield County Council’s conference room on June 26.

DHEC fielded questions primarily from Dorothy Brandenburg and Val Green, who called to attention several areas of primary concern, including the blasting zone radius, water tables and dust control.

Brandenburg asked DHEC to address with the company, which was not represented at the meeting, noise and light pollution during nighttime operations. She also pointed out to DHEC the existence of a public park in the Middlesix community that she said was 1.057 miles from the edge of the mine and that could be in the path of wind-blown dust.

Green asked DHEC if overburden from the mine could be used as a berm along the northwestern boundary of the site to act as a noise buffer. Joe Koon, with DHEC’s Division of Mining and Solid Waste Management, noted on a map of the more than 900-acre site a little more than 405 acres of undisturbed natural buffer around the mining site. Milton Pope, Fairfield County Administrator, who sat in on the meeting as an observer, said it was his understanding from the company that overburden would indeed be used as a berm.

Green’s biggest concern, however, was water, which the company plans to use in dust control and to wash stone.

“Do they know they have enough water (on site)?” Green asked.

Kent Coleman, Director of DHEC’s Division of Mining and Solid Waste Management, said his department had no specific calculations of how much water the company will require, but said the company will use sediment ponds in a closed-loop system and will not be drilling wells. The company will also not be drawing water from nearby Horse Creek, Coleman said.

“They need to give assurances that they have adequate water for dust control,” Coleman said, “and we will ask for that.”

Coleman said local water levels in nearby residential wells, as well as in the pond located on property owned by T.A. Harman adjacent to the mining property, would be monitored by DHEC. Any drop in water levels would be addressed immediately, Coleman said, so residents would not find themselves with a dry well or drained pond overnight.

Green also probed DHEC about existing wetlands on the site, and Coleman said the company’s approach “is to delineate wetlands and stay off of them.”

Pope asked DHEC about the blasting radius, how it is measured and how seismic vibrations would be monitored. Coleman said DHEC requires a minimum distance of 1,000 feet from the edge of the pit to the nearest residence for blasting.

“In this case, so far as we know right now, all of the structures that we would be looking are at least 2,400 to 2,500 feet from the blasting area,” Coleman said. “The mining law requires a maximum ground acceleration – how much can you make the ground vibrate – by law, that’s established. We can measure that or we can ask them to measure that.”

Coleman said he expects the company to submit its air and water permitting applications by late August and residents could expect a public hearing in late October or early November.