Guest Editorial: Ask DHEC to say ‘NO’ to Luck

The concerns over the Luck Mining Company’s 100,000 gallon per day of water usage and water level drawdown needed in the latest proposed quarry operation in Fairfield County are of great concern to the Ridgeway community. The Town’s water tank standing by the quarry entrance is also the site of a major well which supplies a large portion of the Town of Ridgeway’s water.

In addition, domestic wells of area residences are close to the draw-down effects of large water consumption needed for dust suppression, gravel washing, and other operations–100,000 gallons a day for the first 12 years.

Although the company proposes to replace any affected wells, has anyone ever had to experience losing a well like I did several summers ago when it took weeks and months to get a replacement well dug and outfitted to supply our domestic water?

Fairfield County is at the threshold for rolling out a welcome carpet to an entire century of blasting, dust pollution, heavy truck traffic, and a loss of prime development area for desirable living communities. 

The environmental hazards of quarry dust, water contamination from industrial equipment, and yes, even the proliferation of radon off-gassing into homes built of the lovely stone, are all part of the environmental equation that has negatively affected the health and safety of our community residents.

All mining permit requests include a plan for the reclamation of the quarry property at the end of its use. Ridgeway’s Kennecott goldmine which operated between 1988 and 1999 was never restored to natural beauty and the ‘recreational’ lake developed from the quarry begs the question: how will a very deep lake with no shallow shoreline become a recreational opportunity?

On August 20 The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) will close the public comments window to permit Luck Stone Industries of Richmond, Virginia to develop a granite crushing quarry on 416 acres of Simpson community woodland just west of the Highway #34 exit off Interstate 77. 

This section of State Highway #34 is the entrance to both of the county’s principal towns of Winnsboro and Ridgeway and has the potential of being a gateway entrance to a future of economic diversity and quality development. 

In the last two years the S.C. Department of Transportation has worked with a Fairfield County citizens’ group and the South Carolina Scenic Byways Committee to designate a 50-mile looped route connecting Ridgeway, Winnsboro and Great Falls along highways #34, #321, and #21. 

One of 21 scenic byways around the state, This Piedmont Gateway Scenic Byway is to be a corridor management plan to promote and enhance the scenic, recreational and historical resources and attract desirable economic development.

However, as a thoroughfare for the granite crushing industry with heavy truck traffic, severe alteration of our natural roadside beauty, and other environmental blights, perhaps we can forget about promoting our historic town as a cultural tourism destination with nice quiet neighborhoods and clean air.

I am all for developing the corridor and the county’s Megasite economic development plan, but wish that our county’s leaders would consider how Chester County turned down a bid from this same out-of-state company last year. 

The residents of the county and the county’s planning commission blocked Luck Industries from locating a quarry in the middle of their economic development corridor along Highway #9 because of the incompatibility of such an industry with the types of clean businesses already developing there.

I wish that our county would look at development potentials that nurture environmental stewardship and keep quality-of-living issues in mind. 10 -15 quarry jobs do not bring much to our community.

Resource extractions change our environment. Currently, two and possibly three large granite quarries are proposed or under construction within a five- mile area between Winnsboro and the Interstate roadway.

There are plans on the shelf for the development of another granite quarry property just 2.5 miles west of the Luck site, and less than five miles north of the proposed Simpson site there is construction already ongoing for a Vulcan quarry off the Old River Rd. and Hope Rd. Why do we want to concentrate so much of the same industry in our area?

Most quarries end up with chain-link fences to prevent accidents and reduce liability to the company or state. This is what our children’s children will live with as they wonder why we allowed this blight to be created in our generation.

A quarry will bring little substantial tax revenue for Fairfield County, and the operation will only create a few onsite jobs and contracts with truck drivers who will likely not be county residents.  Luck Stone’s market study shows the location is good for the growth corridor between Columbia and Charlotte, but the mine itself would not be a big economic win for us. The profits in such an industry will go to an out-of-state company. While growth is desirable, we will suffer the largest burden of loss to our county’s other resources with little gain. Columbia, Charlotte and Luck Stone will reap the wins. Not us. It will never be a win-win for those in the area of the quarry.

If a community hungry for economic development does not discriminate about the types of heavy industry they would welcome, it’s worth thinking about what that industry will leave for coming generations. The Luck Company’s mining permit now being considered at SCDHEC specifies that they plan to operate for 100 years.

Is this the legacy that we want to leave our future generations?  Please make your voices heard. Written comments on the mine operating permit application will be accepted through Friday, August 20, 2021, and should be submitted by email or US Mail to: 

Jeremy Eddy, Project Manager 

DHEC Bureau of Land and Waste

Management 

2600 Bull Street

Columbia, SC 29201 

Email: [email protected]

Comments

  1. K Reynolds says

    If the waste water from the proposed waste water treatment plant is as pure as has been reported then pipe it to the mine to be used for mining purposes and eliminate well and creek draw down.

  2. Shyra Reitz says

    Pipe it to the mine. Eliminate well and creek draw down.

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