Opinion

Not too late to oppose

If you live in the Puget Sound region, a gravel mine proposed for Grouse Ridge, near North Bend, threatens your future water supply. Surprised?

Through a series of deft political moves, Weyerhaeuser, the landowner, set in motion a proposed gravel mine (size of downtown Seattle) to be positioned right at our beautiful gateway to the Cascade Mountains. This proposed mine will be directly over the North Bend (Snoqualmie) Aquifer, our regionOs largest, purest aquifer. Why excavate there? Because a huge gravel deposit, with easy I-90 access, offers low extraction and transportation costs. But it also serves as nature' protection for the clean water we'l soon need.

Weyerhaeuser chose Cadman as its mining contractor. This company accidentally breached the Monroe aquifer in 1992. Surrounding residents'wells ran dry. Mining and asphalt and concrete plants are planned over the aquifer. A two-mile conveyor belt will zig-zag down the ridge in plain view, bringing gravel to 450 trucks coming and going throughout the day along I-90 to Seattle. Annually theyOll carry 1.5 million tons of gravel.

Diesel-powered processing equipment will be operating at the site for 25 years or more. Over 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel will be stored on site. Hundreds of trucks and excavating equipment will be moving around the site every day. Effluents from concrete and asphalt processing, aggregate crushing and washing and truck washing will also be stored on the site. This heavy equipment will operate within 15 vertical feet of the aquifer until winter, at which time the water table will rise to surface level! There is statistical certainty that over the course of the 10,000 days of operation, dangerous amounts of these contaminants will find their way into the aquifer and Snoqualmie River.

The Cascade Gateway Foundation (CGF), a non-profit, grassroots organization of volunteers, has opposed this plan for over three years, urging mining be restricted to the much safer upper site containing 95 percent of the gravel sought.

Other concerns: air pollution, noise, nearby schools, traffic congestion, wildlife and using biosolids (soil amended with sewer sludge) as a fertilizer on the area to be reforested over the aquifer.

The final environmental impact statement (FEIS) will be out in July 2001, at which time CGF must act quickly to contest it in court (the public comment period is over). CGF is confident its court case can protect the aquifer and is currently raising a legal defense fund to do so.

Cheap gravel is not worth risking your water.

How is it that all this was put together without attracting more attention? For more information: www.cascadegateway.org, (425) 831-1606, info@cascadegateway.org, and Cascade Gateway Foundation, PO Box 1906, North Bend, WA 98045.

Opposition has been financed by local families. ItOs not too late to stop this mine!


Barbara Mondrow

North Bend

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