Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Living With Sand Mines: US Silica's Illinois Neighbors

Sparta city council members have conscientiously visited other US Silica operations and come back with glowing reports about its mines. US Silica's admirable outreach in Monroe County makes it clear that it is a good corporate citizen.

That said, in La Salle County, some citizens are opposing a new sand mine because of their experience with US Silica. A company called Mississippi Sand wants to build a sand mine near a state park called Starved Rock. It promises to provide water for local farmers and their cattle if its operations cause wells to dry up. But opponents to the new sand mine are wary of those make-good promises because of their experience with US Silica. Here's what the local paper, The News Tribune, wrote about what La Salle County board member Arratta Znaniecki (R-Ottawa), who owns property adjacent to the site, and Peg Kramer-Graves, an organizer of the citizens group opposing the new sand mine, had to say:

Znaniecki and all of the other property owners adjacent to the proposed site met with Mississippi Sand officials. At that meeting the company offered them well agreements and property purchase agreements.

Local wells in the area are shallow. One the Znanieckis bore recently reaches just 37 feet. Anything lower and the water would be mixed with sulfur and lower than that are salt deposits.

“They promised to provide water for us and our cattle until any problems were fixed by them if their operations dried up the wells,” she said.

Officials also offered local residents pre-inspections on their homes. This would allow for a record to be created on nearby home conditions so that if blasting created major structural problems they would know what needed to be fixed.

“It all sounded like a good sell,” Znaniecki said. “They sounded like really good neighbors.”

But after that meeting Citizens Against the Starved Rock Sand Mine held a meeting where participants such as Kramer-Graves explained how U.S. Silica had made similar promises but only kept them half-heartedly.

“I think because of that a lot of people are feeling that if U.S. Silica can’t keep its promises then how will this company,” Znaniecki said.

For the complete News Tribune story, click here.

1 comment:

  1. Kate, are you still posting on this site or have you moved to Google+? I happen to live in Arratta Znaniecki's County district and because of the financial incentives, she abstains from any vote on Mississippi Sand.