Gravel mine poses big problems
October 3, 2008 · Updated 1:14 AM
Larry Anderson's Dec. 14 letter ("Gravel pit isn't the problem")
makes interesting observations on Valley demographics but totally ignores the
real issues that make the Weyerhaeuser/Cadman gravel mine a threat to
the quality of life for everyone in King County, regardless of where they
live or work.
First, of course, is the risk to the North Bend aquifer, the largest
untapped water supply in the region. The gravel-mining industry has a
terrible record for puncturing and contaminating both groundwater and
surface-water resources. In October of 1993, Cadman breached the High Rock
aquifer at its operation near Monroe. That incident displaced some 25,000
yards of silt, sand and gravel, immediately damaged 13 wells and three
springs, and resulted in the permanent reduction of underground water levels in
an area of over 160 acres.
The 1996 environmental impact statement for the Cadman Black
Diamond Mine Expansion documents several eyewitness accounts of
hazardous waste dumping and unsafe operation at the Green Valley Road site.
The Cadman proposal for North Bend calls for onsite storage of tens of
thousands of gallons of propane and diesel fuel in the area of Truck Town;
literally across the street from the future middle school.
A gradual leak in any of these or other storage tanks could pollute
the soil and underground water supplies for generations to come. Worse, a
catastrophic explosion or fire could destroy dozens of nearby homes
and businesses , killing or injuring hundreds of people. Alarmist
nimbyism? Probably. But why run the risk?
The truth is Washington is gravel-rich; sand and gravel can be
profitably extracted from hundreds of places in the Northwest. The proposed
North Bend site just happens to be the most profitable location, given its
proximity to I-90 and Weyerhaeuser's own major development projects
like Snoqualmie Ridge.
Personally, I'm not willing to sacrifice the quality of our water and
air, nor endanger the lives and property of my family to increase the profit
margin for Weyerhaeuser and Cadman stockholders.
The North Bend gravel mine isn't about the inexorable demands
of growth, nor is it about a win-win land swap benefitting King County
decades in the future. It's about corporate greed at the expense if we're lucky
of the quality of life of a few thousand families in the North Bend area. If
we are unlucky, the consequences could be much worse, with loss of water
supplies impacting families as far away as Seattle and Tacoma.