A sand and earth mining company has proposed digging a large mine near one of Horry County’s largest nature preserves, a move that has environmentalists worried.
Materials from the mine will be used for construction, an essential building block in fast-growing low-lying areas like Horry County.
But the public will have a chance to weigh in on the mine before it gets state permits, and environmentalists hope they can pressure state officials to reject the permit and protect the nature reserve.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control will hold a public hearing on Soilutions mine permits on Edge Road on June 30.
Here’s what you need to know:
DHEC Public Hearing
DHEC has scheduled the public hearing for the Edge Road mine permits for Thursday, June 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the J. Bryan Floyd Community Center in North Myrtle Beach. The adress is 1030 Possum Trot Road, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina 29582.
During the hearing, DHEC officials will collect written and oral comments on the mine permit application. If you cannot attend in person, DHEC will allow the public to call or attend virtually online.
The agency will not answer questions about the mine during the hearing, according to a notice from DHEC. Rather, the hearing will consist of public comments, which DHEC will consider when evaluating the permit application.
If you plan to participate, the DHEC asks you submit a registration form before June 29.
If you cannot participate in the public hearing but wish to submit comments to DHEC on the mine, you may do so in writing until July 15 via the following methods:
Mail and e-mail in the United States: Kaylin Joye, Project Manager
DHEC, Office of Land and Waste Management
E-mail: [email protected]
Call: (803) 898-1367
DHEC will post a video of the public hearing online by July 15.
Edge Road Mine
According to its permit application, mining company Soilutions is seeking a state permit to dig 50 feet out of 33 acres to mine sand and clay.
The company plans to use the material for construction. Homes and other buildings constructed in Horry County frequently use fill earth to reinforce the base of the structure above flood levels.
In fast-growing places like Horry County, such material is a necessity for building new homes quickly. Many houses could not be built in the low-lying county without such fill material.
The company currently has a limited permit to dig 20 feet deep on five acres.
The mine is located on Edge Road – a branch of SC 90, outside of Conway – and shares a border with the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Reserve.
Why Edge Road Mine Matters
Environmentalists fear the mine’s proximity to the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Reserve could harm the Carolina Berries, making the intact forest more vulnerable to wildfires than it already is. According to trapper Fowler of Coastal Conservation Leaguethe mine could disturb the water table of the reserve, which could harm the rare plants and fauna that live there, such as Venus Flytrap and the red cockade woodpeckers.
And Becky Ryon, director of the Coastal Conservation League’s North Shore office, said the reserve is used by “hunters, bird watchers, cyclists and many more”.
She said she hopes the public hearing will result in DHEC denying permits for the mine.
CCL said it was concerned the mine could affect groundwater on which the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Reserve sits. If the water table is affected, he said, it could cause some plants to dry out, meaning the reserve is more susceptible to wildfires.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is already trying to control wildfires on the reservation through prescribed burns that help get rid of dry “fuel” for natural fires.
“We encourage all who are able to attend the North Myrtle Beach meeting and champion this unique habitat, home to rare and endangered species and loved by hunters, bird watchers, cyclists and many more. ‘others,” Ryon said in an email.
“We hope that DHEC will recognize the impacts this sand mine could have on the fragile ecosystems of Lewis Ocean Bay, as well as nearby residents, and refuse this mining permit,” she added.
Even though DHEC does not approve permits for Soilutions, the company plans to find a use for the land it owns, a company spokesperson previously told The Sun News.
Craig Kennedy, the spokesman, declined to comment on the public hearing in an email Wednesday.
“We look forward to DHEC completing this necessary part of the authorization process and making a decision,” he said.
But Kennedy previously told The Sun News that Soilutions had taken every precaution to avoid harming the nature reserve. He said wildlife living in the reserve would not be harmed, based on observations by a biologist hired by the company.
“There are (woodpecker) cavity trees in the (Lewis Ocean Bay) reserve, and based on the wildlife biologist’s assessment, (the woodpeckers) will continue to have sufficient forging area in the reserve,” Kennedy said in February. “(The woodpeckers) will not suffer any loss of critical habitat related to the Edge Road mine.”