What if it wasn’t the woods where the spooky ghoulish terrors lie, but out in the open right beside them? The fright of the Mississippi Sand Company Mine will have you running as deep into the forests of the Starved Rock State Park as you can.
With this 315 acre sand mine, you don’t need to be afraid of the dark—in fact glare lighting at the site will keep you up all night. There might not be any vampires, ghosts, or zombies, but there is something very unnatural that should give you a fright. Toxic silica dust.
Mississippi Sand Mine will blast rock formations containing St. Peter Sandstone, releasing thousands of particles of silica dust daily. Silica dust is a known carcinogen, with particles so tiny they seep into your lungs and can lead to silicosis and other respiratory disease. If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, consider this: recently mined silica dust is even more toxic and can travel up to 15 miles from the original site.
The air isn’t the only hazard from this mine, poised to started operating any day. Mississippi Sand discharge an average of 1.4 MGD of storm water and pit pumpage into Horseshoe Creek—a tributary to the Illinois River that runs through Starved Rock State Park. That means the toxic silica dust and the flocculants used to mine the sand would find their ways into our waterways.
What’s even spookier is the precedent Mississippi Sand, IDNR and LaSalle County has sent. If we allow sand mines next to our most prized state parks, where will they come next? Keep your eyes open.