State regulators will hold a public hearing about a company’s plans to mine sand in the Sandy Run area.
Culclasure Farm Tract LLC is seeking a permit to mine sand on a 68-acre tract about a half-mile east of the intersection of Horsefeathers Lane and U.S. Highway 21 near the Town of Swansea.
The public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, at the Sandy Run School cafeteria. The school is located at 450 Old Swamp Road in Swansea.
The hearing is being held for S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control staff to share information and respond to the concerns of the local community.
DHEC will continue to accept written comments for 10 days after the public hearing or Nov. 30. All comments will be reviewed and considered by DHEC prior to a final decision.
If DHEC approves the project, it will go before the Calhoun County Planning Commission for consideration as well.
According to the company's permit application, about 40 acres will be affected by the mining operation. The company is seeking a 10-year permit.
Of the 40.3 affected acres, up to 23.3 acres may be impacted at any one time, according to the company's permit application. The area is subject to reclamation requirements.
The project will consist of two mining pits.
One pit (south of Horsefeathers Lane) will be excavated to a maximum depth of 242 feet or 44 feet below the ground surface and the second pit (north of Horsefeathers Lane) will be excavated to a maximum depth of 257 feet or 60 feet.
Of the 68 acres, 27.7 acres will be a buffered area and will not be disturbed by the project.
The proposed mine includes buffers around the site, a screening area, sediment control ponds, stockpiles, an on-site haul road, stormwater discharge and surface water withdrawal. It does not include blasting, crushing or other operations requiring an air permit.
The proposed mining project has not been without concern as expressed by residents and Calhoun County Council.
DHEC has assured council that the water quality of personal wells on Horsefeathers Lane will not be affected by the mining project.
DHEC officials have said they are aware of concerns about surface water withdrawals and possible impacts to private wells.
In response to these concerns, DHEC is encouraging well owners to complete and return a well survey form. The survey can be found at www.scdhec.gov/publicnotices.
The information will help DHEC better understand private well details in the area and assess the potential for significant impacts. It will also provide DHEC with baseline data for future comparison, if needed.
Area residents and Calhoun County Council members have raised concerns about the mine’s potential impact on roads, water, health and the quality of life.
American Timberlands Co., which owns Culclasure Farm Tract LLC, has said the concerns are unwarranted. The company said it will provide adequate buffers, protect wetlands and implement a reclamation plan to protect the environment.
County Council has consistently stated that Horsefeathers Lane is a county-maintained dirt road that was not built to handle the large trucks the proposed mining project would use. Council has requested that the company pave the road to the level needed to handle the increased traffic.
According to DHEC, the S.C. Mining Act only authorizes the agency to regulate truck traffic on roads inside the permit boundary.
The agency says it can evaluate impacts to public roads as they pertain to the physical effects from the mining operation (e.g. blasting, undermining, etc.).
Mining officials say the road has been available for public use since at least 1941. DHEC is not aware of any restrictions for use of the road by the applicant or the general public.
Other concerns with road systems, including use of the roads, are under the jurisdiction of S.C. Department of Transportation, S.C. Public Service Commission or Calhoun County Department of Public Works.
As requested by the local residents at the public meeting, DHEC notified SCDOT of the proposed Culclasure Farm Mine by letter dated Aug. 11.
According to DHEC filings, S.C. Department of Natural Resources personnel concluded there are no records of threatened and endangered species in the immediate project area.
There are two S.C. Wildlife Action Plan conservation priority fish species, the seagreen darter and sawcheek darter, within Big Beaver Creek, according to DNR.
The agency provided several recommendations for reducing the impact on wildlife, including requiring erosion and runoff controls.
The comment period for the project has been extended a few times as DHEC has sought more information from the applicant, such as updated maps of the affected areas and a reclamation map to more clearly show final contours.
The company first announced its sand-mining plans in 2015.
Here is a timeline of the activity:
- October 2015--- the mine application was placed on public notice. Multiple requests for a public hearing were received.
- January 2016 -- DHEC requested additional information from the applicant, including updated maps and plans for the protection of wetlands.
Culclasure received approval from DHEC’s Bureau of Water for coverage under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System General Permit for Discharges Associated with Nonmetal Mineral Mining Facilities. The permit sets limits on the discharge of mine dewatering and stormwater from the site.
- February 2017 – April 2017 -- a revised mine application was received by DHEC and placed on public notice.
- June 2017 -- DHEC staff met with representatives of Calhoun County, Culclasure, DOT and a concerned resident to discuss the revised application. Plans for an informal public meeting with the local community were made.
The mine permit application and related documents are available for review at www.scdhec.gov/publicnotices.
For additional information or to submit written comments, contact Ed Haigler, DHEC project manager, at 803-898-1375, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.