Heidi Zimmerman: Exploratory drilling a mining nightmare in Grass Valley | TheUnion.com

Heidi Zimmerman: Exploratory drilling a mining nightmare in Grass Valley

Are you, the inhabitants of the Grass Valley region, aware there is exploratory drilling for gold occurring right now and has been for the last year?

The 90-acre parcel (was five different owners) is the Idaho Maryland gold mine and was the second largest mine in the country back in the ’50s. Unbeknownst to many around here, this land was sold to Rise Gold Corp., a Canadian company who amassed $2.5 to $3 million from Canadians in hopes of striking gold with this company. We have a Canadian company drilling to search for gold in our backyard — directly next to residential properties! How can this be allowed to happen in this day and age?

They have been drilling 24/7 through all holidays, weekends and evenings — nonstop — looking for gold. They are using hundreds of gallons of drilling fluid, compounds and lubricants, which are injected into the wells. How will this impact our ground water and adjacent perennial streams? Needless to say this has been an extremely disruptive issue to those living within proximity to this atrocity along Brunswick and East Bennett roads and surrounding areas. Do you realize there is zoned residential land, which borders this heavy industrial zoned land that Rise Gold is working on? This is heavy industrial activity running 24/7.

The sound is very loud and carries a high Din (vibration) nonstop. There is light pollution as well, every single night.

Reported violations and complaints made with Nevada County include:

Violations of 100’ riparian setback.

Violation of comprehensive management plan.

Violation of timber harvest regulations.

Multiple violations of storm water management practices.

Constant loud vibration drilling sound.

Light pollution: bright floodlights running all night long.

Reports of strong solvent smells and dust. Soil contamination: What chemicals are leaking out of containers onto our soil?

Sound testing was done for noise level violations at the more remote previous site, but no adequate sound testing has been completed at the current location next to residential inhabitants.

Given this poor record Rise Gold has already created, we should be alarmed and concerned about how much damage they might be doing to the ground water, the creek and the surrounding wildlife.

They are penetrating multiple shafts through impermeable rock layers that underlay local shallow aquifers. How will this impact local residential water wells? What is done with the thousands of gallons of drilling slurry discharge? There are no restoration or reclamation plans in place. There is no bonding, licensing or insurance required either.

I personally have spoken to Supervisor Dan Miller twice and he said that considering California’s environmental regulations that it would be nearly impossible to let drilling for gold happen in this day and age. Why then is Rise Gold exploratory drilling at all? Why are they operating on a very old code more than 20 years since it’s been updated? Why is heavy industrial zoning butting up to residential living?

We as a community have a responsibility to ensure we manage and care for our beautiful surroundings for our children and their children. It’s up to us, the inhabitants of Grass Valley to create the change that we wish for. Perhaps it is time for a revamp or redraw of where the industrial zoning can be allocated. And perhaps it’s time to close the door on mining for gold in this county forever! There already exists a bad track record for gold mining in this county, including on the San Juan Ridge where 13 wells went dry because a drill pierced through the aquifer. Residents could actually hear their water being sucked out of their wells. And many of you know about the mine proposal 10 years ago, one that was successfully shut down thanks to many concerned residents and activists.

There are two penal codes already written (372 and 373) to support our right to quiet enjoyment where we reside. We pay taxes for this right of quiet enjoyment. This is why most of us live here. We need Rise Gold Corp. to cease and desist immediately. We need to change or redraw the zoning. And we need to have the codes updated to better reflect what we as a community support and want in this county in this day and age.

I call any and all of you to action to save our precious community from gold mining. This operation needs to be shut down now. We the people must demand this from our county.

Here’s how you can get involved: Contact your elected representatives. Join or support local groups that advocate for protecting our environment such as Community Environmental Advocates or Wolf Creek Community Alliance. Submit comments to the local media. Put your voice and energy into action.

Heidi Zimmerman lives in Grass Valley.

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