2017-09-27 / Opinions

Mining plans have risks

The public has another day to comment in writing (by September 28) to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection about plans by the sand mine to move their blasting and mining towards town. Then on October 10, agency officials will come to Berkeley Springs to hear more from the people. We urge people with concerns to share them with the DEP on paper and in person.

Residents in North Berkeley and downtown Berkeley Springs who worry about living with blasting and mining closer to their homes should speak up. The sand mine did structural surveys of homes and wells in the vicinity of their proposed blasting, so they have acknowledged there’s a risk.

Those who worry about the effects of blasting and deep excavation on water supplies underground should share those thoughts and questions. Town officials, who oversee the Berkeley Springs Water Works, have particular standing to comment. The town, its homes and businesses, have only one source for the public water system. This underground water source is not mapped or protected from surface contamination by any restrictions beyond the boundaries of tiny Berkeley Springs State Park.

As mining moves closer to Berkeley Springs homes, other risks arise. The effect of blasting on traffic movement along U.S. 522, noise and problems with mining particles blown across a residential street are others that have come up.

State environmental officials want to hear from people about the proposed mining change. The question is not whether sandmine jobs are valuable – they are – but about the potential environmental impact of mining closer to our downtown area.

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