February 16, 2021

Rachel Ellis, ABC News 4

Cape Romain neighbors push back on sand mine expansion

People who call Cape Romain home could live among a massive sand mine if a project is approved. Some people who live in Awendaw are doing everything they can to put a stop to it.

A group met ABC News 4 on the Intracoastal Waterway where they shared why this quiet rural area isn't the right place for mining expansion, but instead, a place for wildlife and community.

They held signs in their hands and stood side by side to advocate against the sand mine expansion.

"This place is like no place in the world. If you have spent any time on this waterway, it gets in your blood and you would do anything to protect it," neighbor Ron Jacobs said.

Jacobs is among the crowd who doesn't want the mine expansion near his home.

"We are talking 59 acres. Ultimately, we're talking for the entire area that they would like to mine, the tract itself, 1,329 acres. So, it's a good percentage of Awendaw," staff attorney for South Carolina Environmental Law Project Lauren Megill Milton said.

The South Carolina Environmental Law Project says a lawsuit was filed against DHEC and King Tract, LLC in December.

"It is my position in the fight that we are working in that DHEC didn't abide by the mining act in approving this project. DHEC must consider the water quality impacts of a project as well as the impacts on the protected forests around us, the Francis Marion (National Forest) around us, and important waterways," Megill Milton said.

DHEC said the permit decision is currently under appeal with the South Carolina Mining Council. A spokesperson said in part, "If a permit application is compliant with all applicable regulations and requirements, the applicant is issued the permit."

"It will be an enormous project that will create noise and dirt on the roads and huge trucks plowing these roads for years and years to come," neighbor Susan Cox said.

An attorney for King Tract, LLC said, "We do not expect any noticeable or substantial increase in truck traffic because of this mine for local residents. Corroborating this conclusion, King Tract previously operated a five-acre mine without complaints from the public or any safety incidents."

"The sentiment is clearly that this is a very bad idea. And that any development that is done in Awendaw needs to maintain it's rural character," Cox said.

As a Change.org petition against the mine expansion circulates online, the group will continue to take a stand.

"We're not going to stop. I mean, most of the people here have full-time jobs. So, this is another full-time job for us," Jacobs said.

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