A proposed Vulcan Materials mining project along the Rappahannock River in Caroline County, Va., has stirred up controversy among area residents and preservationists.
Vulcan is seeking a special-exception permit to mine sand and some gravel on 372 acres. The material would ultimately be transported from the site by barge down the Rappahannock River, which borders the property on three sides, and then up the Potomac River to a Vulcan plant in Woodbridge.
According to newspaper reports, proponents argue that the mine will employ 14 people full time, bring Caroline $100,000 in annual tax revenue without any demand on services, avoid the need for any truck traffic because of the river shipments, and allow the property to continue agricultural uses both during and after the mining. They say most parts of the project won't be visible from the Rappahannock or surrounding properties, and that steps will be taken to avoid runoff into the river.
But many people, including residents in Caroline, King George and Essex counties, have reportedly expressed concerns that the mine could lower property values (thus reducing county tax revenues) and have a detrimental environmental effect on the Rappahannock River and surrounding land.
- Its equipment and operation would not disturb the area’s sensitive wetlands as dolphins and pilings will be installed parallel to the river bank to keep barges from the bank and protect existing vegetative plants.
- No process water discharges from the operation.
- That current pre-mining rates of nutrients entering the Rappahannock will be reduced by post-mining reclamation efforts and that reclaimed sand and gravel sites will demonstrate the water quality to remain within established guidelines.
- Enhanced vegetative buffers and earthen berms will ensure that noise from mining operations will comply with county ordinances.
- That the post-mining reclaimed land can be used for farming.
- That no cultural resources (historic sites needing preservation) have been identified.
- Air quality will be maintained under the proposed plant’s “wet process” mining operation.
- That no mining will occur within the “Resource Protection Area” of the Chesapeake Bay Act.
- That no retail sales from truck traffic will occur as the barges will be the main source of transportation.
- Groundwater and local wells from aquifer sources will not be dewatered by mining operations.
- And that Vulcan remains committed to working with agencies and conservation managers to place a conservation easement over the farm prior to and after operations are concluded.