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Update on the Proposed Sand Mine Next to Starved Rock State Park:
Challenging Permits and Looking for Systemic Reform to Protect our State Lands
Illinois Canyon- Photo by Farley Andrews
On January 12, the LaSalle County Board voted to approve an open pit sand mine next to Starved Rock State Park, despite strong opposition from local residents and thousands of comments against the mine from around Illinois (including more than 6000 comments from the Sierra Club's petition) and a request from the Lieutenant Governor to delay the vote.
Now that the project has been given the go-ahead at the county level, Mississippi Sand LLC must have permits approved from the DNR and IEPA for mining, air pollution, and wastewater discharges.
On February 6, the Illinois River Coordinating Council, composed of a diverse group of citizens, not-for-profit organizations, and state and federal agencies, chaired by Lt. Governor Sheila Simon heard pleas from the Sierra Club, Openlands, Prairie Rivers Network, SOARRING, and local residents to oppose the mine. In response, the council passed a resolution to monitor the local, state, and federal permitting process and seek public input at each level.
Act now to protect Starved Rock and Illinois' State lands from harmful pollution!
Mississippi Sand LLC has submited an application for an air permit to the IEPA and the Sierra Club has requested a public hearing in hopes that the public will have the opportunity to voice their concerns about air pollution.
The Sierra Club is concerned about the silica dust produced from the blasting and processing of the sandstone, which has been classified as a human lung carcinogen, causing silicosis. The dust contains particles that are so small they can't be seen with the naked eye, and so light-weight they can stay in the air for a long time and travel long distances. This is a hazard not only for mine workers but could affect nearby homeowners and the millions of visitors who hike in the canyons at Starved Rock.
Sign our petition to IDNR and IEPA to protect Starved Rock! Take Action Today!
Mississippi Sand plans to apply for an aggregate mining permit from the DNR in the next couple weeks and will also have to apply for a wastewater discharge permit (NDPES permit) from the IEPA. Wastewater discharges will flow from a tributary on the mine site into Horseshoe Creek and through the park. If sediment-laden water comes from the mine site it can clog fish gills, smother eggs and larvae; sediments settling on the bottom of creeks disrupt the natural riffle-run-pool underwater geography that aquatic animals need.
The proposed mine has also highlighted the need for systemic reform regarding protection of state-owned public lands, specifically the need to develop a process by which DNR can fulfill its role as a permiting agency for mining activities while at the same time being able to speak up as a property owner to protect state lands.
Please sign this new petition we will share with IDNR and IEPA who will need to grant permits to Mississippi Sand for the sand mine to proceed. This petition also calls for regulatory reform so IDNR will stand up as the guardian of our state lands.
You are receiving this message because you signed our earlier petition to the LaSalle County Board or the one we had at Bald Eagle Days.
Citizens of LaSalle County who oppose this mine should also contact their County Board members demanding that the County request DNR hold a public hearing on Mississippi Sand's permit application for aggregate mining.
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Sierra Club Illinois Chapter | 70 East Lake Street, Suite 1500 Chicago, IL 60601 | P: (312) 251-1680
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