Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Leads Fight Against Mining Permit in Pennsylvania
Upper Potomac Riverkeeper Brent Walls joined Friends of Tom’s Creek (FOTC) to oppose the expansion of operations for Specialty Granules, Inc (SGI) on Tom’s Creek in Fairfield, PA.
Brent’s goal is to convince Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection to deny a permit for SGI, which, if granted, will allow stormwater from the mining expansion to impact Tom’s Creek, a state designated High Quality stream. SGI is using a weak social and economic justification for DEP to allow discharges into the Creek.
DEP is in the final stages of reviewing an expansion permit for SGI to mine and process Greenstone, which is crushed into a fine grit for the production of asphalt shingles. Greenstone contains asbestos, a carcinogenic material hazardous to human health, which would pollute the air and water through the crushing process.
If permitted, the project will blast and excavate right next to residential properties, within 100 feet of scenic historic roads, and within 300 feet of Tom’s Creek and four ecologically-diverse wetlands containing unique and endangered species.
The new permit would allow discharges of mining stormwater into Tom’s Creek even though SGI is already pumping into an existing settling pond more stormwater than it can handle, which discharges into Miney Branch, a tributary of the Monocacy and Potomac Rivers. Over the years, the mining by SGI has already degraded Miney Branch, impacting the use and enjoyment of the water resources by downstream residents, disturbed the cobble stream bed needed for fish habitat, and decreased the stream capacity during rain events, increasing residential flooding downstream.