Dan Crawford, chapter president of the Roanoke Sierra Club, has had commentaries published in The Roanoke Times asserting that the Rocky Forge Industrial Wind Project is perfectly suited for North Mountain. But what about locating a concrete batch plant in a Forest Conservation Area immediately next to Mill Creek, a Class IV trout stream?
The Botetourt County zoning ordinance clearly prohibits a concrete batch plant located in a Forest Conservation Area, and yet the county has said that it is OK.
What is a concrete batch plant? A batch plant has towering silos to store Portland cement and a large drum mixer, high enough off the ground for a concrete truck to drive underneath, with stockpiles of gravel and sand stored nearby. The operation takes cement, gravel, sand and water, mixes them in a drum and discharges the mixture into a concrete truck. About 1,000 truckloads of concrete will be required for turbine foundations. At the end of each day’s operation, the equipment is washed, and the contaminated water is poured into a pit next to Mill Creek.
If you have ever driven by a concrete plant, you may notice dust everywhere. This is not typical dust; it is cement. Cement is very alkaline and dangerous. The Material Safety Data Sheet for cement lists skin irritation, chemical burns, tissue damage, blindness and cancer as hazards. The dust generated by the plant will cover the nearby trees, ground and creek. Imagine that in a trout stream. And since the batch plant is only a couple of feet above the 100-year flood zone, the danger of a larger disaster is even higher.
Renewable energy is supposed to be about protecting the environment. In the case of Rocky Forge, this renewable energy project destroys over a hundred acres of ridgetop habitat, puts golden eagles and endangered species at risk, and potentially ruins a wild trout stream and miles of wetlands. All to generate a small amount of intermittent electricity.
Are mountain trout streams or wildlife species poisoned by chemicals the Sierra Club’s idea of protecting the environment?
Stephen Neas, Lexington
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