Here we’ve summarized our biggest concerns with the Starved Rock mine.
- Blasting will increase the amounts of particulate matter and respirable crystalline silica in the air
- Silica dust has been known to cause cancer in human lungs, a condition known as Silicosis
- Dust particles are small and lightweight; unable to detect with the naked eye, yet able to remain aloft in our air for extended time and distances
- Everyone and every living thing in the near vicinity will be exposed, not just mine workers.
- The IEPA issued a construction permit which gives the company authority to construct crushers, screens, conveyors and other equipment that would be a source of air emissions on September 27, 2012.
- Mississippi Sand, LLC proposes to mine land that drains to Horseshoe Creek, which flows directly into Starved Rock State Park and eventually the Illinois River
- Mining will destroy the tributary stream on site, leaving a pit that is considered a ‘lake’ as part of their reclamation plan
- The ‘lake’ will undermine the current hydrology of the site; it will lower the water table, captures runoff intended for downstream
- Chemical discharge may contain high levels of suspended solids and could alter the pH, dissolved oxygen content, and increase the total dissolved solids.
- The mine plans to use an anionic polyacrylamide flocculant which they say will bind to fines and settle out in the mine pit.
- Excess silt negatively impacts aquatic life as it has been found to prevent egg and larval development and interferes with gill function. Excess silt fills crevices previously inhabited by native flora and fauna.
- IEPA issued a permit that allows stormwater runoff from the construction of screening berms and storm water control measures on September 27, 2012.
- On October 19, 2012, IEPA issued a notice that they intend to issue a general permit that allows discharge from the mining operations.
- The mine will be allowed to discharge an average of 1.4 MGD and up to 5.1 MGD of stormwater and pit pumpage into the Horseshoe Creek tributary.
- Requests should be sent to Illinois EPA to require the mine to get an individual NPDES discharge permit since it will discharge into a stream which runs into Starved Rock State Park. An individual permit will require public notice and provide the opportunity for public comment and a public hearing. Request should be sent by email to email@example.com with “Mississippi Sand” in the subject line before Nov. 18, 2012.
- A phased mining plan avoids wetlands during the first phase of mining but a number of wetlands on the site are ultimately proposed to be mined.
- Ernat’s Marsh, a rare salt marsh and Illinois Natural Areas Inventory (INAI) Site will be destroyed in Phase III of the mining. This type of wetland is irreplaceable.
- By phasing the mining, Mississippi Sands avoids the need to get a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for wetland impacts before the company starts mining. So the fact that they cannot mitigate for the loss of Ernat’s Marsh is not being considered upfront, and they do not have to provide a plan on how they will mitigate for other stream and wetland losses on the mine site.
- The St. Peter Sandstone is part of an aquifer formation that supplies drinking water throughout northern Illinois.
- Mining the sandstone will increase evaporative losses and increase risk of groundwater contamination
- Starved Rock State Park is one of our nation’s “special places”. This park gets over 2 million visitors annually, comparable to the 5 million who visit the Grand Canyon each year.
- The Illinois River Valley has been home to Americans for many years. Part of the mining site is located in a High Probability Archaeological Area. The University of Illinois conducted limited investigations of the site in 1987. Artifacts dating from 10,000 years ago were found.
- On September 27, 2012, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Illinois EPA and Mississippi Sand which sets forth the plan for Mississippi Sand to mitigate adverse impacts to historical resources.
Light & Noise
- The mine will be a 7-day, 24-hour operation. Noise from blasting will reverberate and echo in the canyons.
- Truck traffic will increase on the Illinois River National Scenic Byway that runs along the mine site and through Starved Rock State Park.
- Impacts to tourism and wildlife are uncertain.