By MARK EVANS
Things continue to develop in the battle between Nexgen Silica, LLC and Operation Sand, LLC.
Last week Operation Sand filed a complaint with the Missouri Administrative Hearing Commission, challenging the mining permit the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had issued to Nexgen on June 30 to conduct silica sand mining operations on 110 acres of a 249-acre tract along State Highway 32 in the western part of the county.
The complaint alleged that the DNR unlawfully granted the permit. It argues that Nexgen failed to identify all persons of interest in the land in its permit application and that it failed to show that it had a legal right to mine the land in question.
The complaint also returned to the issue of the May 19 public meeting conducted by the DNR and Nexgen Silica at Progress Sports Center.
It argues that because of issues with the microphones and the way the screens were set up, a good portion of the audience could not hear or see much of the information given out. Additionally, it argues that the meeting, which lasted until about 10 p.m., was not moderated and that not everyone got a chance to ask pertinent questions.
The complaint argues that, “The public was not afforded a reasonable opportunity to learn about the proposed mining operations and to ask questions.”
The other point in the complaint centers around an entity called Missouri Proppants, LLC. According to the complaint a March 16 letter from Nexgen to the DNR stated that Nexgen had entered into a mine lease agreement with Missouri Proppants. However, it argues that Missouri Proppants, LLC was not recognized by the Missouri Secretary of State’s office as an entity until July.
Sisters Jillian Ditch Anslow and Leigh Ditch McNail, who live on adjoining properties near the proposed mine site, have spearheaded the fight against the mine. They have cited potential health dangers of silica sand and helped convince the Ste. Genevieve County Commission and Ste. Genevieve County Health Board to pass measures that severely limit silica sand mining operations within the county. Nexgen has since filed a court injunction against the ordinances.
“When we first learned about this mine, we were shocked,” Anslow said in a press release from Operation Sand. “After researching the potential effects of crystalline silica on air quality and water quality, we firmly believe this proposed silica sand mine is a threat to our local public health.”
Effects on the water table locally and aquifers that provide water to neighboring counties has also been raised as a potential danger.