The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has taken the next step in the process of deciding whether or not to grant Donmar Sand Mines the required permitting needed to move forward with allowing the corporation to expand its Huger-based mine from its current size of 5 acres to 30.58 acres.
Huger residents have actively voiced their complaints about the proposal since 2017.
DHEC initiated a public notice of Donmar’s application on March 12 and took public comments through Sept. 16.
“DHEC will take all comments and concerns under consideration as it continues the technical review of the Donmar Sand Mine application. After careful consideration of all comments, DHEC will make a permitting decision and provide a summary response to everyone who submitted a comment and other interested parties. There isn’t a time frame for a permitting decision at this time,” the agency reported in a statement.
During the six-month period, citizens submitted 53 pages of comments, which mostly signaled disapproval for expanding the mine.
Many of the comments submitted expressed concerns for the environment and quality of life for Huger residents. The community, which is surrounded by marshes and the Francis Marion National Forest, could potentially see negative impacts from water runoffs, which could affect private and public lands, homes, and businesses, stated respondents to DHEC.
“It is hoped that DHEC’s decision will not be based on the financial stability of the applicant. That is not your job, not your mission. Your first priority, as stated in your mission statement is to protect and promote the health (of) the public and environment; and to improve the quality of life of all South Carolinians,” one Huger resident responded.
Another potential problem that could arise is increased traffic on Highway 41 caused by dump trucks coming to and from the mine.
“The highway is already overcrowded by dump trucks. There has already been several fatal accidents at the intersection of 41 and Charity Church Road, and I feel that adding the sandpit will cause a lot more problems at the intersection,” another submission read.
Two weeks before the closing of the comment period, DHEC hosted a socially-distanced public meeting on Sept. 2, which included a publicly-accessible Zoom call. During this time, residents were given the opportunity to ask questions, provide comments, and voice their concerns with the project.