Seven Diamonds LLC is applying for a Pasco County Mining Operating Permit for a sand and limestone mine located near the Jumping Gully Preserve.
“We are concerned about the noise, the dust, the dirt, the blasting the impacts to the environment that we have,” Bob Howell said. “We don't know what will happen with sinkholes in this particular area. This area is very prone to sinkholes.”
The mine would encompass 284 acres and be located at 16303 U.S. Highway 41 in Spring Hill, Pasco County, Florida.
Howell started an online petition that he plans to send to Pasco County Commissioners. So far, he is more than halfway to his 500 signature goal.
“It's going to destroy the land penetrate the aquifer to 90 feet,” Howell said. “Anything in that mine will eventually reach Weeki Wachee Springs, which is Hernando's number one tourist attraction. They have no idea how long it will take from the water in this mine to reach that spring.”
Potential dangers of limestone mining include groundwater contamination, noise and air pollution and risk for increased sinkholes, according to reports by the United States Geological Survey.
According to one report, “the most frequent com- plaints the public makes to the crushed stone industry situated near population centers is about blasting noise.”
According to the Permit Narrative presented to Pasco County Commissioners, “No impacts to existing wetlands are proposed by this project. One listed species, gopher tortoise, was reported in the site in the 2010 survey. Follow-up surveys in 2013 showed gopher tortoises continue to inhabit the site. Prior to initiating excavation at the site, a gopher tortoise relocation permit will be obtained from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.”
Howell said he is worried about heavy rains and flooding. The permit states that “all stormwater will be routed to the mine pits, which have more than adequate capacity to retain the design 25-year, 24-hour storm event.”
The report goes on to say that “all stormwater can easily be contained on site and no discharge from the site is anticipated.”
Howell said during major rain events the entire area surrounding the dried up Crews Lake has been covered in more than two feet of water. Howell worries that heavy rains will cause water in the mines to escape and contaminate the water supply.
With the Lago Verde mine already operating near Howell’s home, he’s already noticed his water quality decline.
“I'm getting my well retested because we've noticed some changes in our water other people have noticed changes in their water,” Howell said.
Despite numerous attempts for a comment, the owner of the mine Lew Friedland, did not return our calls for information regarding Howell’s concerns.
We reached out to Pasco County Commissioners regarding the proposed mine. Mike Moore sent ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska this email:
“There is nothing on our future BOCC agenda that I've seen in reference to this so there is no story for me to comment on at this time. If this subject ever appears on our agenda feel free to reach out. Take care,” Moore said.
Howell said when the mine does come up on their agenda he wants people to be ready to respond with all of the necessary information.
“There is no need for a mine here,” Howell said. “There's no need for this mine. It benefits the owner, period. It doesn't benefit the county.”