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At 8436 East Apache Trail, in the middle of a neighborhood, is a row of hills known as Twin Knolls.
The eastern hills are about to be completely destroyed by a gravel mine.

This mine will begin operation in the
next few months and will take
8 to 12 years to grind the hills
down to nothing.
The property owner has refused to
talk to anyone about his plans.


Southbound on 85th Street now

Southbound on 85th Street after mining
 
The rock is granite with a quartz content of 30%-70% according to the Arizona Geological Survey, which
means the neighborhood will be exposed to dust with a very high quartz content for the next 8 to 12 years.

Many lung diseases, including Silicosis, are known to be caused by long term exposure to quartz dust,
but exposure effects have only been studied in a workplace environment. MORE INFO

The Maricopa County Air Quality Department (MCAQD) is considering an air quality permit for this mine.
We presented studies to MCAQD that show how a hill like this generates faster, more turbulent winds
than the winds down here in the neighborhood. These winds, and the high quartz content of the granite
they will be mining, make this mine a very real and serious health hazard for everyone living within
a few miles of Twin Knolls in every direction.

MCAQD dust monitoring methods limit the opacity, or how much the dust obstructs visibility, to 7% or 20%.
Deadly quartz dust is too fine to be seen so these opacity limits are ineffective.

We compared MCAQD dust limits to those used for miners by the Mine Safety and Health Administration,
but MSHA limits for dust are based on the quartz % of the dust, and use limits for total particulates.
MSHA does not use opacity. MCAQD does not consider quartz % and when a particulate limit is used,
it's only an option. The mine operator can choose to use the opacity limit instead.
So, to make this comparison, we used MCAQD's particulate limit for crushing and screening.

MCAQD's limit is over 100 to 200 times higher than MSHA! MORE INFO

Of course, MSHA limits are for an occupational setting, but because of our unique situation, and absent
any applicable data from studies that have not yet been done, MSHA limits are the only reference we have.
And exceeding these limits by 100 to 200 times is not good.

And monitoring particulates is not a requirement. The mine operator can use opacity to monitor the dust.
We could be protected by the high-tech method of looking at the dust to see how thick it is.

This mine site is unlike anything MCAQD has ever granted a permit for.
We have requested that studies be done to determine how to control dust from this mine, if that's even
possible, and what the health risks are for this neighborhood and other communities in this area.

We have spoken with the EPA and confirmed that EPA can help with these studies if they are asked
to do so by MCAQD, but so far MCAQD has not responded to our requests to do this research.

Currently, no research data exists that can be used to establish an effective dust control plan
for a mine on top of a hill surrounded by people's homes.
Also, no research data exists to indicate what long term quartz dust exposure can do to families
living in such close proximity to a hilltop mine producing quartz dust.

If this mine begins operation, this will essentially begin a great experiment; the first experiment
exposing families, for 8-12 years, to an elevated quartz dust source towering over their homes.

The people in this neighborhood are not mine workers, and we are not lab rats.
We are people of all ages, some elderly, some with existing health issues, and some simply trying
to raise their children in a place where it's safe for them to play outdoors in their own back yard.

We are worried that in 10 years, or less, we will have countless residents, including children,
deathly sick with lung diseases.

Why bother with an air quality permit process if it doesn't protect people? What is the purpose?

 
 
   We have a GoFundMe page to raise funds for expenses and legal action to stop the mining of the Knolls.  Click here to donate.            
 
 

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Time line of what has transpired to date:

April 19, 2019 - Twin Knolls property owner John Oertle submitted a Mining Exemption Application to
the Maricopa County Planning and Development Department to allow for aggregate mining on the property.

May 2, 2019 - Ray Banker, Planner in the Maricopa County Planning and Development
Department, created a plan summary. The summary provided an aerial view of the subject property
clearly showing a heavily populated residential area surrounding the property.
There are also numerous businesses to the south of, and adjacent to, the Twin Knolls property.

December 2019 - The Final Reclamation Plan was submitted to the Mining Office.
According to this plan, mining operations are scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2020.

The week of February 10, 2020 - Some residents received a letter from the Arizona State
Mine Inspector’s Office dated February 5, 2020 advising of a meeting on March 11, 2020.
This letter was the first notification residents received about our new neighbor, the mine.
The March 11 meeting was to be about the reclamation plan only. The mine was already approved.

March 11, 2020 - Reclamation Plan meeting at the Arizona State Mine Inspector’s Office.
We attempted to table the meeting due to failure to properly notify homeowners as required by law.
The Assistant Attorney General, who headed the meeting, refused to table the discussion.
We were told only comments about the reclamation plan would be allowed at this meeting
but the plan was not available to anyone prior to the meeting and only 2 copies of the plan
were available at the meeting. There were around 40 people attending.

Custom Landscaping Materials stated they had done a study of the flora and fauna on the Knolls
and they said they found nothing.
We asked when mining was scheduled to begin. The answer was "we don't know".
AZ State Legislator John Fillmore attended and was very vocal in opposition of the mine.
Here is the March 11 meeting audio. You may have to download in order to play it.

March 14, 2020 - An article about the mine appeared in the Arizona Republic.
AZ Republic reporter Alison Steinbach interviewed Sam Schippers, vice president of
Custom Landscape Materials(CLM), the company leasing the land to do aggregate mining.
Schippers said a third party has done “thorough studies on the wildlife”.
“The only thing we’ve found of any concern was a significant population of rattlesnakes,” he added.

March 16, 2020 - We received the December 2019 Reclamation Plan Final.
This is when we learned mining operations were scheduled to begin in Spring of 2020.

March 29, 2020 - About 30 folks came out to protest the destruction of Twin Knolls.
Helen Hunter, who is running for LD16 House of Representatives, also showed up to help us protest.
Thank you to everyone who showed up to raise awareness of this scandal.

April 13, 2020 - Cathy had a call with Steve Chucri, County Supervisor.
They discussed the elusive Flora and Fauna study and Supervisor Chucri's office will try to
secure that from whomever may have it.
Supervisor Chucri has reached out to Oertle and to CLM and both have been none responsive.
A conference call was scheduled with the landscape company and they were a no show.

May 14, 2020 - We found that the Flora and Fauna study that Custom Landscape said was done
does not exist at any government entity.
Sam Schippers claimed the Mining Inspector's Office had it which they did not.
Neither did other government entities we checked with.

June 20, 2020 - Representative Fillmore addressed a neighborhood meeting
and recommended we continue to write and call, specifically City of Mesa, Maricopa
Board of Supervisors, all our District and State Legislators AND he also suggested the Governor.
He suggested writing YOUR story and how this situation would negatively impact YOU.

August 13, 2020 - Air quality permitting requirements are inadequate for this mine.
On August 13 we provided the MCAQD with scientific studies demonstrating why this is true.
As of December 10,2020, they have not responded with studies of their own contradicting these facts.

September 18, 2020 - On Sep 4 the Mine Inspector's Office and the Attorney General's Office
were served with a Notice of Claim. 
A Notice of Claim is required in Arizona to notify any state agency that we intend to sue them.
The issue is their failure to follow the legal notification process regarding the Reclamation Plan.
We are asking that they reset the entire approval process of the plan so the Mine Inspector's Office
can do proper notification in accordance with the law.