ATHENS TOWNSHIP, BRADFORD COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Tensions were high in Bradford County as residents came out in full force for one last attempt to avoid a mining project from taking over the area.
Dozens of residents came out to Athens High School to express their concern about this mine project that many believe would greatly affect the surrounding area, including the river and the nature around Athens.
“I have lived in Athens for most of my whole life. I have seen that beautiful view my whole life. It’s round top,” Pat Chacoma said during public comment.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is the final barrier that stands between Roundtop Mountain in Athens Township and the proposed Minard mine.
“We’ve been working on the project for three years and it’s picked up some steam with the local community members. We’re just hear listening,” said Bishop Brothers Company Vice President Dustin Bishop.
A public hearing was held by dep on tuesday for the nearly 400 acre mining project before granting the permit to start construction.
“DEP takes all of the comments that are received in writing and verbally at these types of events and reviews those as part of the decision to make a final decision about whether to issue the permit. If we do, there may be various conditions and things like that,” said Pennsylvania DEP Regional Communications Manager Megan Lehman.
Many in the community voiced concerns, starting with air quality.
“We need to breathe. We need to breathe clean air. And now we’re gonna get dust from the mountains?” Kristine Litteer asked during public comment.
“They’re connected, statistically, with higher rates of asthma, higher rates of emphysema, higher rates of lung diseases all over the nation,” J.C. Christiansen explained during public comment.
Some looked at the bigger picture beyond Bradford County.
“Choosing this location to mine impacts thousands of people directly, and millions once you consider the Chesapeake Bay watershed,” said Jaimee Alsing during public comment.
While many were there to express their concerns about the project, others were there to support it.
“The regulations ensure that there are no hazardous or negative impact to those living or working closely to these facilities,” said Jim Castillo with the Pennsylvania Aggregates and Concrete Association.
“We’re right across from the quarry. As far as blasting, they let people know when they’re gonna blast. Dust control? There is no dust. There’s never been any kinds of problems with water, erosion, to my knowledge,” said Sheshequin Township resident Ted Malawski.
A major concern is losing the view of the scenic mountain, something the Bishop Brothers promise won’t happen.
“You’ll still see the beautiful valley, I grew up here also. I graduated from Athens. I wouldn’t do anything to hurt the town,” Bishop explained.
The final decision by DEP will be made when they receive the transcript from Tuesday night’s public comment which they say usually takes about a month.