Citizens in Jefferson County Pursue a Voice in Court as They Fight to Stop a Silica Sand Mine

Citizens in Hillsboro, MO, have been working hard to preserve the air and water quality as well as the landscape near their homes since learning earlier this year of a developer’s plans to build a silica sand mine. On October 11, 2018, Great Rivers Environmental Law Center filed a motion seeking to intervene on behalf of adjacent landowners in a lawsuit brought by the developer against Jefferson County, after the County denied the developer’s application to build a silica sand mine in an agricultural and residential area in Hillsboro. The silica sand would be used for fracking, which is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

The County had denied the application for many reasons, including that the proposed mine would destroy the tranquility and quality of life for residents in the neighborhood, the mine would cause an increase in traffic, noise, dust, health hazards and stormwater runoff to the surrounding residential area, and the mine would cause increases in noise, water and air pollution.

Jefferson County Waterfall

photo credit Jenn DeRose

Adjoining and adjacent neighbors seek intervention in the lawsuit to protect their interests. “We are opposed to the silica sand mine because it will negatively impact our residential neighborhood and change our way of life. Every day when we look out of our windows, open our front door, sit on our porch, or work in our yard we will experience the noise, destruction of nature, and pollution that mining silica sand causes. We are fearful that our home will be damaged, our well water polluted or lost, and our health will be threatened,” said JoAnn Enloe, an adjacent landowner.

Adjoining neighbor Suzzanne Bouchard’s entire eastern border of her property abuts the proposed silica mine property. A large portion of the bordering land is held under conservation easements by the Ozark Regional Land Trust.

“Silica mining would put in jeopardy the environment, water, wells, land, pastures, forests and animals as well as cliffs, houses, outbuildings and peace of mind. The health, safety, and welfare of my neighbors, also adjoining properties, and individuals I consider family, all of us, will be put at risk,” said Suzzanne Bouchard.

“Jefferson County stood up for the health of its citizens,” said Kathleen Henry, attorney at Great Rivers Environmental Law Center. “The Planning and Zoning Commission and County Council had dozens of valid reasons for denying a permit to build a silica mine in a residential area and the applicant should not be permitted to mine silica in this location.”

The motion to intervene is set for hearing November 2, 2018 in the Jefferson County Circuit Court.

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