DHEC OK’s Mining Permit

WINNSBORO (June 16, 2016) – The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) issued a permit on June 6 for Winnsboro Crushed Stone, LLC (WCS) to mine granite on 365.8 acres of a 923.2-acre tract off Rockton Thruway in Winnsboro.

DHEC initially approved the company’s Application for a Mine Operating Permit and Reclamation Plan in April 2015, but an appeal by local residents, which was heard last February, resulted in several concessions by WCS. According to DHEC documents, in the Final Order, dated March 18, 2016, the S.C. Mining Council “affirmed (DHEC’s) decision with modifications to the permit.”

“Those modifications have been satisfied,” DHEC’s permit letter to WCS states.

“This is not a surprise,” said Lisa Brandenburg, a Rockton Thruway resident and member of a local citizens’ group that has battled the quarry for more than two years, “but the company still has to meet the conditions (won by opponents in the February appeal).”

Fairfield County Administrator Jason Taylor, during his report to Council Monday night, revealed to Council that the permit had been issued.

“The next step in this process would be for them (WCS) to approach the County with a development plan for that site, for approval or denial,” Taylor said.

After Monday night’s County Council meeting, Brandenburg said she will be making a 10-minute presentation on the proposed quarry at Council’s June 27 meeting. She was confident, she said, that “the County will do the right thing.”

Concessions granted by the Mining Council after the February hearing included the installation of monitoring wells, which must be operational in time for construction to begin on the quarry. The company was also required to construct berms along areas close to neighboring properties.

The Mining Council also mandated the metering of the water flow in nearby Horse Creek. Winnsboro Crushed Stone was also required to present a plan for funding neighborhood wells that may run low or dry as a result of mining, including a plan for furnishing emergency water and replacing wells.

According to the “Additional Terms and Conditions” portion of the June 6 permit, “four groundwater monitoring wells and one stream staff gauge shall be constructed” in designated areas. A benchmark level will be established for each well and the levels measured once a month with the data submitted to DHEC quarterly.

The company “shall be responsible for repairing, deepening or re-drilling” drinking water or water supply wells should DHEC determine that those wells have been “adversely affected by dewatering activities at the Winnsboro Quarry,” the Additional Terms and Conditions state.

Prior to the initiation of mining, according to the Additional Terms and Conditions, “an inventory of all water wells for domestic or agricultural purposes within the pre-blast survey area shall be conducted.”

The Additional Terms and Conditions also state that “if archaeological materials are encountered prior to or during the construction of mine facilities or during mining, the S.C. Department of Archives and History and (DHEC) should be notified immediately.”

The Additional Terms and Conditions also prohibit the “temporary or permanent placement of refuse and debris from off-site locations;” however, topsoil and DHEC-approved fill “may be brought in from off-site sources only for the purposes of mine land reclamation.”

The company is also required to maintain a minimum of 75-foot undisturbed buffer “between any land disturbance activity and wetland areas.” DHEC may, if deemed necessary, require “an appropriate fence” to be installed around the affected area.

According to the Additional Terms and Conditions, for nearby parcels owned by Samson Woods, LLC, and Banks Construction Company, no mining can take place.

“The mineral rights for these parcels have not been conveyed to the mine operator,” the Conditions state. “Therefore, only grading related to the haul road construction within the 75-foot corridor . . . may take place within these parcels.”

Finally, before the company can break ground on future reserve areas, “a mine map, reclamation map and reclamation schedule must be submitted for approval by (DHEC) prior to initiating activity.”