My wife and I live in Blanchard, Idaho. Since November of 2017 we have found ourselves involved in a fight to stop Hi Test Sands, a Canadian company, from building a silicon smelter in Newport, Wash. Hi Test Sands, proposes to build this smelter only 12 miles from our home and less than one mile from schools, churches, and the downtown district of Newport.
We have joined forces with Citizens Against Newport Silicon Smelter (CANSS), where we have managed to accumulate much information on the negative effects of a silicon smelter. The silicon containing quartz, mined from the Hi Test Sands mine located in Golden, B.C, will be transported partially by rail and partially by truck to the Newport site. Blue Gem coal, which is a very high grade of coal, will also be shipped via a combination of rail and truck to Newport. The average truck, fully loaded, will weigh 40 tons.
The amount of materials needed to operate this facility would require 49 full trucks per day dropping off said materials, and donít forget, they must leave as well. So that brings truck traffic to 98 trucks per day in and out of the facility. This estimate would include trucking in the wood chips, which they would be getting locally.
Hi Test Sands originally stated (three times in their own PowerPoint presentation at their public forum on 11/29/17) that this facility would use only 8,000 gal/day of water, but then they requested 240,000 gal/day from the city of Newport. So far, this request has been denied, but whoís to say they couldnít seek water from Bonner County, Idaho.
Since they have lied about the amount of water needed, what else would they lie about?
But my main concern is the amount of pollution a plant of this nature would produce. The smelter, as proposed, will have a 150-foot stack emitting silica dust, CO2, and greenhouse gasses. Silica dust, when breathed into the lungs, lodges crystalline silica particles in the lung tissue, leaving irreparable scarring to the lung tissue.
Silicosis and lung cancer are very real concerns! Anyone who lives within a 130-mile radius of this smelter will be exposed. That include Kootenai, Bonner and Boundary counties.
In traveling to Coeur díAlene and other areas outside of our local community we meet people who have heard nothing about this project. Some think it will not affect them, but they are wrong. Our crusade is to inform the public so all those who love this beautiful part of the country will become aware of the dangers of a silicon smelter. Please do your own homework. I encourage you to check out our Facebook page CANSS or go to our webpage at canss.org.
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Steven C. McConnell is a Blanchard resident.