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Letter: She urges people concerned about silica sand mining to attend meeting

TO THE EDITOR: The Town of Oak Grove has recently addressed the very real possibility of permitting silica sand mining within its borders.

Despite informational meetings and a recent public forum, there are many local residents who seem unaware of the potential impact of this industry.

I am very concerned about potential health issues. No long-term studies have been completed on the effects of inhaling the microscopic grains of mined sand. These airborne particles seem inevitable, blown off large product stockpiles, and transporting trucks, trains and barges, despite promises of mitigating measures.

Economic impact is another point of concern. The number of employed locals would be modest, at best, and only a few selected landowners will stand to benefit from the sale of underground mining rights, and then only at the risk of embittering their neighbors. The effect on tourism, I fear, will be in significant contrast with many small businesses along our major thoroughfares and within our small communities being negatively affected. How many motorcyclists, open convertible drivers and tour bus operators will want to negotiate dusty, sandy highways encumbered with lumbering sand trucks? (And who would do this to our "most scenic highway" anyway?)

There is also a concern about the huge amounts of water which will be used in the mining process. In the midst of a drought, we must be aware of the negative effects on our aquifer.

And we all should take pause with the thought of blasting and drilling occurring so near our homes, as the mining companies desire only 100-200 foot setbacks.

Please consider coming to the Town of Oak Grove meeting hall on Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. if you are interested in this issue, as the board will be addressing and voting on key permitting and ordinance measures.