Opinion

Threat to aquifer unknown

(Editor's note: The following is a copy of a letter sent to the state Department of Ecology concerning Cadman Inc.'s proposed Grouse Ridge gravel mine. The letter writer is a member of the Cascade Gateway Foundation, which opposes construction of the mine's lower site.)

I am a deeply concerned about the impacts of the proposed mega-mine on Grouse Ridge. Specifically, I am concerned that:

1) The applicant (Cadman), the landowners (Weyerhaeuser and Cadman) and the governing organizations (Department of Development and Environmental Services, state Department of Natural Resources and the state Department of Ecology) do not have a clear and accurate understanding of the massive aquifer upon which Cadman proposed to mine. The EIS, in multiple sections, states the boundaries and the undercurrents of the aquifer are not known. The word "unknown" in relation to the aquifer is recorded dozens of times in the document.

2) The applicant (Cadman) has a severe and recent track record of damaging the Monroe aquifer in 1993, permanently lowering the water table. Having had conversations with Ms. Hansen and Mr. Sayer concerning this disaster, it is my understanding that Cadman's view of that incident is that is was an "unfortunate accident or side effect of mining." I am deeply concerned that this applicant has no serious regard for protection of our public water resources. Perhaps this can be credited to the fact that they had no penalties for doing so.

With that said, I am requesting that DOE reject the application for the general sand and gravel permit based on the facts that: 1) The aquifer is neither sufficiently defined nor fully understood; 2) The applicant has an "environmentally criminal record" of breaching aquifers and should thus not be permitted to jeopardize another irreplaceable resource without a severe penalty plan appropriate for repeat offenders. This model follows common laws.

As individuals, we have clear laws on what is permissible behavior and what is not. We have clear processes to navigate when we exhibit nonpermissible behavior and the consequences of our actions. The general sand and gravel permit does not have the leverage to define the unique requirements necessary to guide a mining operation of this size and complexity. Additionally, it does not have the structure to establish the boundaries of nonpermissible behavior and clearly define the consequences.

In conclusion, I implore DOE to support the citizens who do not have a financial stake in this, but will pay a heavy environmental cost if you issue your permit. On behalf of our environment, I request you reject the application.


Jamison Chochrek

North Bend

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