Testimony to BOA about the R&J Rolling Acres Mine on Hwy 88

February 15, 2011

To: Board of Adjustments
Cc: Buffalo County Board members

by Marcie O’Connor

I would like to urge you to deny the application for the R&J Rolling Acres Mine near Gilmanton.

I’m concerned about several aspects of this mine.

o    This mine will be located in the middle of a beautiful agricultural valley – is it really an appropriate use for this site?
The ordinance states that you need to consider: “Its compatibility with existing uses on land adjacent thereto.”  A large mining operation does not seem to be compatible with the existing use of the land.

o    Wash Plant – possible contamination of ground water
A UW mining engineer, who has studied the chemicals used on frac sand, suggests that we should insist on a complete list of all the chemicals used, how each chemical is used, its toxicity, a water flow chart, information on how much water is used, recycled and spilled, and where any used water is disposed of.

If chemicals from the wash plant do contaminate our ground water, it will be too late to fix it.  We should make sure we know the risks before we start, and have rules in place that require the companies to be careful and responsible, and liable for any contamination.

o    Problems with a 24 hour a day operation
You are considering an operation that will have lights and noise 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for many years.   Is this really appropriate for a quiet agricultural area surrounded by farms and hunting land?

o    Problems with 24 hours a day hauling
Heavy trucks hauling loads 24 hours a day, down a narrow, winding, hilly, rural highway seems completely reckless.  The trucks would be sharing the highway with school buses, tractors, farm implements, cows, and deer.

– This area has one of the highest deer populations in the country.  In 2010, 258 deer were killed on Buffalo County roads.  Hitting a deer is dangerous for both the driver and the vehicle, and it is much more likely to happen at night, and on narrow, winding roads.

– Since this is a farming community, tractors, combines and other farm equipment use the roads.  They travel slowly, and there are many blind hills and curves, and few passing places.

– Many farms are on both sides of the road, so farmers move equipment and livestock back and forth across the road.

– This is a tourist area – motorcyclists and bicyclists use these roads.

Are these uses really compatible with hundreds of heavy trucks traveling the road every few minutes, all day and all night?

o    Are you really considering all of your constituents?

–  Much of the district is a tourist area.  Will the increase in noise, lights, dust, and trucks affect that industry – businesses that already exist in the county?

–  These hundreds of heavy trucks will disrupt the lives of people along their route – make it more difficult for them to travel, sleep, and walk.  They will discourage tourists from visiting the many tourist attractions and businesses.

So far in your decisions you seem to be considering the miners and the mining companies, but it’s not clear that you’re considering anyone else.  According to the statue you are supposed to consider: the “relationship to the public interest, the purpose and intent of this ordinance and substantial justice to all parties concerned.”

It seems to me that “justice to all parties concerned” means all parties, not just miners.

Please consider denying this permit.  This would give you time to listen to the other constituents you represent, and hopefully figure out ways to meet everyone’s needs – not just the needs of the applicants.

Click HERE for a Word, and HERE for a PDF version of this document.