Tuesday, July 11, 2023 Blog

Commentary: Edge Road Mine decision is a mistake

by Darienne Jordan

By Trapper Fowler, North Coast Project Manager

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) made a mistake approving Edge Road mine and the general public should be concerned. 

 Soilutions LLC half-heartedly addressed concerns for wildlife and hydrological impacts. But what about concerns related to best management practices for spotted turtles, groundwater monitoring wells on Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve, larger buffers on the preserve, donation of the mine after reclamation to the state, and a myriad of concerns voiced by neighboring communities? 

Sitting on the border of our state’s most biologically diverse and highly visited heritage preserve, this mine must go above and beyond normal expectations — if even approved at all. To our knowledge, all of the clearing, grading, and mining that has occurred has been without valid permit. DHEC should take this into account. 

 Also per my understanding, DHEC has never denied a mining permit. This does not sit well. Surely there have been times, this one included, where a permit should not have been granted. DHEC staff point to Horry County to regulate concerns, yet Horry County has zero mining regulations, despite having more mines than anywhere else in the state. Regardless of the outcome at the state level, I hope this serves as an example that it’s critical Horry County revisit local mining regulations. We can’t rely solely on DHEC. 

 If DHEC allows this sand mine, it could have terrible ramifications, signaling that the borders of our protected lands — and our communities — are open for mining. 

 This will impact public lands. Lewis Ocean Bay is a crown jewel of South Carolina’s Heritage Trust Program and meant to have the highest level of conservation protections, hosting an assemblage of Carolina bays, Venus flytraps and black bears, and offering grounds for outdoor learning, research and recreation. (To protect the preserve from this and other threats, visit bit.ly/SaveLewisOceanBay) 

 This decision could also set a precedent for future mines. Are you OK with excessive dust, noise, and dump trucks if a mine is approved in your neighborhood? If not, ask DHEC and the county to set a different precedent here. 

 I hope the request for review by the DHEC board will encourage them to consider all of this in their decision and make a choice to protect the unique ecosystems of Lewis Ocean Bay and the surrounding community.

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