|Coos: Chromite Mining|
| Aug 9 2010 -- Oct 9 2010 Chromite Mine Receives Permit Despite Environmental Threats|
ORC mineral sands processing plant under construction, Coos Bay, August 27, 2010Oregon Shores has taken every avenue to resist a proposal by the Oregon Resources Corporation (ORC) to mine chromite-bearing sands in the Seven Devils area of Coos County, which we believe poses serious threats to water quality in streams and estuaries in Coos County.
In the latest round, we submitted comments to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), asking the agency to reject ORC’s stormwater management plan, for which the corporation sought a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit. DEQ recently found against us — wrongly, in our view — and allowed ORC a general permit.
In our comments, drafted with the assistance of attorney Sean Malone, we noted many deficiencies in ORC’s proposal, ranging from likely sedimentation to potential impacts on endangered species of fish. We argued strongly that to meet the burden of federal law protecting water quality, ORC should be required to file detailed site-by-site plans, rather than slide by with a general permit.
We believe the DEQ decision falls short of the agency’s responsibilities for the following (among other) reasons:
• DEQ failed to require an individualized permit with site-specific conditions, which mitigates adverse environmental impacts.
• DEQ failed to require that the applicant obtain a permit for chromite mining, as it is currently classified. Instead, DEQ based its assessment on a classification from 1987.
• DEQ’s approval is faulty in that it will fail to monitor potential water quality violations because after a brief period of compliance DEQ will stop monitoring the Applicant.
• DEQ failed to account for all pollutants associated with the mining, and, instead, limited the impacts it considered to only six pollutants.
• DEQ approved the permit despite conceding “[t]he mining is likely to affect the quality and quantity of groundwater used by 200+ homes that obtain their water supply from water wells.”
• DEQ approved the permit despite the potential adverse affect on listed species of salmon. DEQ’s comments failed to even mention the effects on salmon.
Oregon Resources Corporation is attempting to mine and process from 500,000 to 1,200,000 tons per year of material, including chromite, garnet, and zircon, from ancient beach sand deposits south of Coos Bay. The purpose of a 1200-A permit is to prevent damage to the watershed by prohibiting pollution in violation of instream water quality standards and groundwater standards. Over 30 parties commented on the 1200-A permit, and comments touched on numerous subjects, including whether ORC should be required to obtain a general or individual permit; the permit conditions; effects on Threemile and Fivemile creeks and on the Coos Bay estuary; the stormwater pollution control plan; groundwater; and site inspections and monitoring. Oregon Shores is specifically concerned about several listed species, including the threatened Coho salmon and green sturgeon.
Despite these overwhelming concerns expressed by Oregon Shores, local residents, and other coastal organizations, DEQ nonetheless approved the registration of Oregon Resources Corporation’s NPDES 1200-A permit for the proposed chromite mine.
It appears that the mining will go forward, but Oregon Shores will continue to take every possible step to insist on careful monitoring and enforcement, and look for any and all opportunities to limit potential damage, if not bring these environmental impacts to a halt.
May 12, 2010: Oregon Shores Comments to DEQ
July 8, 2008: Oregon Shores ACOE Request
June 30, 2007: Oregon Shores Testimony submitted to Planning Department
| May 19 2010 -- Jul 19 2010 Oregon Shores Continues to Oppose Chromite Mining|
Despite recent setbacks, Oregon Shores has taken every avenue to resist a proposal by the Oregon Resources Corporation (ORC) to mine chromite-bearing sands in the Seven Devils area of Coos County. In the latest round, we recently submitted extensive comments to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality, asking the agency to reject ORC’s stormwater management plan, for which the corporation ...
| Apr 5 2010 -- May 15 2010 Decisions Make Chromite Mining a Looming Threat|
The drive to mine chromite sands in Coos County, an environmentally menacing process which Oregon Shores has worked hard to block, has moved forward another notch. Oregon Resources Corporation (ORC) hopes to stripmine chromite sands just south of Charleston, in the Seven Devils area. The area where mining will take place is forest land which ORC has leased from Weyerhaeuser. Recently the U.S. ...
| Feb 1 2009 -- Mar 30 2009 Update on Seven Devils Chromite Sands Strip Mining|
A Coos County proposal to mine chromite sands seems to be stalled at this time. Oregon Resources Corporation (ORC) is proposing to mine for chromite in an area 15-20 miles south of Coos Bay, in the area of Seven Devils Road. According to the application, about 360 acres of the total property (2,151 acres) will be mined. The mineral sands are proposed to be extracted and taken to Coos Bay to an ...
| Jul 20 2008 -- Aug 20 2008 ACOE to decide on Chromite Sands mining|
The proposal to mine for chromite sands in the Seven Devils area of Coos County south of Charleston has reached a new level. The proposal is to put in several strip mines in forestland, each one up to 120 acres large and sixty feet deep. The company, Oregon Resources Corporation, has filed applications for its required permits with the Army Corps of Engineers and with the Oregon Department of ...
| Nov 9 2007 -- Dec 9 2007 Coos County Approves open-pit Chromite Sands Mining|
Coos County, Seven Devils, November, 2007: A proposal a long time in the making is finally coming to pass in Coos County: mining of chromite sands. Oregon Resources Corporation is proposing to mine for chromite in an area 15-20 miles south of Coos Bay, in the area of Seven Devils Road. According to the application, about 360 acres of the total property (2,151 acres) will be mined. The mineral ...