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Sand mining proposed in Calico Rock

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Evergreen Processing LLC of Shreveport, La., has been given a stormwater construction permit to commence initial development for a proposed mining site for franc sand, a high-grade silica used in natural gas drilling, on property about six miles east of Calico Rock. This is the second time that the company has obtained a stormwater construction permit from Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

In June 2008, under the name B&H Resources, LLC, the company had attempted to clear a portion of the property for a franc sand mining operation, only to have an emergency order issued by ADEQ for a lack of environmental consideration.

Under their new name, Evergreen Processing, the company attempts to start the process off on the correct foot by discussing previous errors and explaining their plans to manage future operation of the site within ADEQ standards.

Friends of Norfork and White Rivers and the grassroots group Friends of Mill and Piney Creeks (FMPC) joined in the spring of last year to protest the removal of the vast majority of vegetation from the edge of Mill Creek in Izard County. The excavation site extended along the bank of the creek for about a mile, said Tammi Trotter, member of FMPC.

Local residents appealed to the ADEQ in June 2008 about the condition of the banks along Mill Creek at the B&H site, Trotter said.

An emergency order from ADEQ was issued on June 19, 2008, to stop movement on the site by the company because the general stormwater permit that had been issued did not permit the company to discharge stormwater into nearby streams or tributaries, according to the ADEQ emergency order.

ADEQ issued the emergency order because of the damage to the banks and because stormwater work was conducted without the appropriate permit, according to the ADEQ emergency order.

Land clearing along the banks of Mill Creek in June 2008 "has resulted in massive bank erosion on Mill Creek for approximately one mile from the proposed mining site. Sediment from the banks has impacted both Mill Creek and Piney Creek," the order said.

ADEQ inspectors surveying the site on June 13, 2008, "did not observe any type of erosion or sediment controls in place," the order said. "The activities conducted by B&H have clearly caused pollution to Mill Creek and Piney Creek."

A final restoration plan for the company's initial site has been submitted to ADEQ as of the Oct. 5 meeting held by Charles Francis, co-owner of the White River Current in support of the company.

Evergreen Processing is awaiting approval of that plan by ADEQ, according to the Oct. 8 Current article.

At the Sept. 14 Calico Rock City Council meeting, Kevin Ware of KJ Environmental in Dallas, Texas, was quoted by the Current saying "In an effort to minimize impact to streams, Evergreen will maintain a 100 foot 'buffer zone' along all creeks on the 1300 acre property on which existing trees and vegetation will be left as is. Consideration is also being given to donating these zones to the Ozark Land Trust which would protect the acreage in perpetuity."

Ware had not responded by press time to a phone message and e-mail from Areawide Media requesting contact.

Evergreen Processing has again been issued a stormwater construction permit by ADEQ in order to construct building/equipment pads, build and pave roads, construct proper stormwater controls and harvest timber. They are limited to disturbing 242.5 acres of the 1,068-acre site, said Aaron Sadler, public information officer for ADEQ.

David Williamson, consulting geologist for Evergreen Processing, indicated at the Oct. 5 meeting "that wells planned the property would extend to a depth of 2,000 feet, tapping a lower level aquifer" and "daily need for water would be approximately 468,000 gallons per day," according to the Current article.

The City of Calico Rock would like to proceed by assisting Evergreen Processing with the drilling of water wells to be used in the franc sand mining process, said Ronnie Guthrie, mayor of Calico Rock. Although, if the funds will be allocated is still in question, he said.

"In general, a typical quarrying operation would submit to ADEQ a Notice of Intent (NOI) that it will begin quarrying," Sadler said. "Under this NOI, at least five landowners who have property within a half-mile of the proposed quarry site can request a public meeting with the quarry operator. That meeting, however, would not be conducted by ADEQ.

Various permits would have to be obtained before mining operations could begin at the site.

"It's impossible to speak specifically to Evergreen because the company has not requested ADEQ permission for anything other than construction," Sadler said.

"One condition of the general water permit is that operations cannot affect groundwater table levels," Sadler said. "All entities regulated by ADEQ are required to comply with applicable laws and regulations, which are intended to be protective of the environment."

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