Residents hold boat rally to oppose Beaufort County mine - WRBL

Residents hold boat rally to oppose Beaufort County mine

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More than 70 boaters and kayakers gathered for a boat rally on Blounts Creek on Saturday.

"Save Blounts Creek" members organized the rally to garner support to oppose Martin Marietta Materials Vanceboro quarry.

"What better way to send a message and be seen than to show our creek and to show our people with their smiling faces. Show them in their boats and show them this is how they enjoy these waters," said "Save Blounts Creek" member Bob Daw.

The rally comes a almost a month after the North Carolina Division of Water Resources held a public hearing at Beaufort Community College. A hearing which aimed to give the public a chance to voice their concerns before the division granted Martin Marietta a water withdrawal permit. The permit is still pending, but if granted, it would allow the mining company to take 12-million gallons from the Castle Haynes and Surficial Aquifers, and dump it in an area of Blounts Creek. A action, environmental engineer and Blounts Creek resident, Al Gerard, says will ruin the creek.

"Fresh water will slowly take over the brackish water that is in this creek. So, what's living in here now, will not live under the same conditions as the water quality will change," said Gerard.

"Our waters gave been defined as a nursery and spawning of saltwater fish. It's brackish water, and we cannot allow them to ditch pump 12-million gallons every 24 hours into our nursery and spawning waters. It will destroy the uniqueness of this creek," said Daw.

In a previous interview, Martin Marietta told 9 On Your Side they've done multiple studies that show their mine will not have a destructive impact on the nearby creek. State officials agreed with the findings and granted several permits to the company.

Residents are also concerned about the impact the water withdrawal will have on those who depend on well water near the proposed quarry.

"Those people are going to be effected and they need to know that they are going to be effected by it and their wells," said Gerard.

People along the creek say they will continue to make noise until their voices are heard.

"We're not done yet. We're not going to sit idley by.  If we have to get national attention and have someone come in and ask Raleigh what's going on at Blount's Creek?  We're going to do that," said Daw.

--------------------------------------------previous story---------------------------------------

A battle over water continues for one county in eastern North Carolina.

On Tuesday, residents in Beaufort and Craven County came out to Beaufort Community College to voice their concerns again about the Martin Marietta Materials proposed Vanceboro quarry.

The North Carolina Division of Water Resources held Tuesday's public hearing before they grant the mining company a water withdrawal permit.

If granted the permit would allow the mining company to take 12-million gallons from the Castle Haynes and Surficial Aquifers, and dump it in an area of Blounts Creek. Martin Marietta's Vice President of Land and Environment, Paxton Badham, says this type of water withdrawal is typical, especially for mining near the coast.

"Mining in the coastal area of the state does require withdrawing a fair amount of water, or large amount of water, and it does have impacts. There are areas in which we will impact wells, that's for sure, but we have a plan to deal with those. If we adversely impact a well we fix it. That's essential the plan," said Badham.

Though the mining company laid out their well response plan, many of those in attendance still had questions and concerns. One of those concerns, how the water resource division would make sure the mining company is following the rules.

"You are going to rely on Martin Marietta to check the ph (level). You are going to rely on Martin Marietta to check the wells. I feel sorry for you. You are not doing your job," said Blounts Creek resident, Ed Rhine.

"I want to know who is got the intestinal fortitude once this creek is destroyed to tell Martin Marietta to stop now," said Blounts Creek resident Robert Ebe.

While Tuesday's meeting focused on the impact of removing groundwater, some residents like Bob Dawl say they are also concerned about the impact of unloading millions of gallons of water into Blounts Creek.

"This is the last little pristine body water left I North Carolina for people to come and enjoy. It's doomed," said Daw.

"We may have lost round one, we may have lost round two, but this fights not over," said Rhine.

Martin Marietta has already been granted two other permits needed to start this rock mining project. The Division of Water Resources says it will take all the public concerns and comments into consideration, along with other factors, to determine if a water withdrawal permit will be granted to Martin Marietta.

 

------------------------------------------------------previous story----------------------------------------------

By Alex Freedman

WASHINGTON, N. C. - Nearly one hundred came out to a public hearing, to voice their concern over a proposed mining project in the east.

Mining company Martin Marietta Materials hosted the hearing at the Beaufort County Courthouse Tuesday night.

The company wants to put an open-pit limestone mine on the Beaufort-Craven county line.

People who live near the Blount's Creek area have been expressing concerns over the county water-wells and the environmental impact the mine would cause.

The newly proposed plan is a 1,600 acre operation that would eventually dump up to 11 million gallons of freshwater, per day into Blount's Creek.

"I'm not opposed to a mine as long as they can do it efficiently that it does not pollute our environment," said Russell Morgan who lives near Blount's Creek.

The company brought in scientists to try an explain the studies they've done covering everything from well water supply, wetlands in the area, and the fish and other life living around the creek.

"They will be on hand to explain what we've done, what we've found, and the conclusions we have drawn," said Paxton Badham, spokesperson for Martin Marietta Materials.

Their overall message was that the mine would help stimulate the local economy, bring up to 20 new jobs, and have very little impact on the environment.

But when it came time for questions the crowd wasn't convinced.

 Residents in the area wanted to know for sure that the area they call home would not be harmed.

"You're going to be pouring millions of gallons of alkaline water in to body of water into a water that is acid base, you've going to change the ph which is going to change the whole eco-structure," said Morgan.

"This is groundwater that we pump out of the ground. Nothing is added to it, no chemicals or fertilizers, nothing is in it," said Badham

The company admitted they are in the infancy of their planning and still have more research to do before the mine even gets approved.

They are working very closely with several state environmental control agencies to make sure their planned mine would be safe, and will continue to inform the public of their findings as they move forward.

--- Original Story ---

WASHINGTON, N.C. - A proposed limestone mining site in Beaufort County has the people who live there concerned about the nearby Blount's Creek.

The Martin Marietta Materials Company wants to pump millions of gallons of water and sand from it's mine into Blount's Creek in Beaufort County, a move that some say that could hurt the area.

Tuesday night, residents showed up at the town meeting to express their frustrations with the proposal, saying it will impact all citizens in one way or another.

"You strip the land. You loose photosynthesis from the lack of vegetation. You're going to cause noise pollution, dust pollution, run off. What is it going to do to the water table," asked Russell Morgan.

"9 million gallons of freshwater going into the creek is going to have a direct impact on the fisheries. That is going to have a direct impact on my livelihood," said Richard Andrews.

The council advised concerned residents to attend Monday's county commissioners meeting, where the topic will be addressed. 

--- Original Story ---

WASHINGTON, N. C. - A proposed limestone mining site in Beaufort County has the people who live there concerned about the popular recreational creek nearby.

The company wants to pump millions of gallons of water and sand into Blount's Creek in Beaufort County.  Some say that could hurt the area.

A representative from Martin Marietta Materials, the company proposing the mining site, said of the proposed nine million gallons, a maximum of six million gallons would be offloaded into Blount's Creek and the rest at another location.

This would happen over a period of years, starting out with a much smaller amount of water and working its way up to the total nine million a day.

Nonetheless, people are still worried about the impact.

"It's a hidden treasure. It's a natural resource," said Bob Ebe. It's why he chose to retire along Blounts Creek back in 1997. "It's a great place to catch fish and blue crab."

For the Martin Marietta Company based out of Raleigh it's also a great place to unload water from a proposed 1,400 acre mining operation nearby by.

It's a water-soil mixture the company needs to pump out of the Castle Hayne aquifer in order to mine limestone.

Paxton Badham with Martin Marietta said because mining is a gradual process, it could take decades before they are pumping out nine million gallons of water a day.

It's a gradual change Ebe doesn't trust.

"This upsets me," he said. "I don't think Blounts Creek will remain a calling card for people to come here and purchase property. That's tax dollars that won't go to Beaufort County."

9 On Your Side took those concerns to the Tar-Pamlico Riverkeeper Heather Deck.

"Streams like Blounts Creek are critical in maintaining the quality of fishing that we have," said Deck.

She said even though the change will be gradual, there will be a change.

"The concern about this and the concern that the residents have had is justified because you can't have a nine million gallon a day discharge without changing the nature of that creek in some fashion."

The Martin Marietta Material's Company said they've been working with state agencies like the water quality and wildlife resource commission for five years.

They say they've met all requirements and strive to run a clean quarry.

The Army Corp of Engineers has opened a public commenting session from now until January 14th, along with other communities in Beaufort County that will put on hearings for the public.

 

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