A Noise study based on information from the mine operators concludes that the proposed sand and gravel mining would not violate Tacoma’s noise limits, despite there being a residential area just 450 feet away. Today is the last day to comment on the study. Mining could start as early as this summer if permits are approved as submitted.
A group called Terra5 Company LLC wants to restart the former Coski Surface Mine at 2500 Marine View Dr., which is located between the Hylebos Waterway and been mothballed for decades. The homes in the nearby Point Woodworth neighborhood were built since the mine ceased operations 20 years ago.
The property abuts the Tacoma Police Department’s Firing Range. The plan is to remove about 400,000 cubic yards of sand and gravel from the 17-acre site during the next decade, which would call for about 15 truckloads every hour of operation, or 600 truck trips a day that would be split into two shifts. Mining would occur only during the day, while loading would occur both day and night. The permit documents mention two shifts, from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.
City of Tacoma planners added the need for a noise study after residents and groups voiced concern about the project during its public comment period earlier this winter. The mine operator contracted with BRC Acoustics and Design of Seattle to conduct the noise concerns. The firm concluded that the site’s plans to retain buffers on the rim of the site would shield the residential areas from any noise of mining operations.
“With these noise-mitigation measures in place, sound levels from proposed operations are expected to meet City of Tacoma noise limits by a wide margin and not to produce significant noise increases at any sound-analysis locations,” the 21-page sound analysis stated. “Therefore, no additional noise-mitigation measures are required.”
Increases in noise from the trucks driving on the roadway are also not expected to rise about the Washington State Department of Transportation guildlines, particularly since the road is projected to see a 45 percent increase in truck traffic even without the project. Restarting the mine will bring that increase to 52 percent.
Citizens for a Healthy Bay (CHB), the non-profit environmental group tasked with monitoring the environmental wellness of Commencement Bay, has wanted the city to conduct a full environmental review of a project since plans were announced late last year since the mine is located along the already environmentally troubled Hylebos Waterway and forested habitat areas as well as is located downhill from the residential area of Northeast Tacoma.
“A short distance down the shore is Squally Beach, an important restored habitat site,” CHB reports state. “The mine also cuts into a forested hillside, which provides wildlife habitat while buffering Northeast Tacoma residents from the impacts of industrial port activities. Finally, it is possible that the site contains contaminated materials from illegal landfills, like those found on neighboring sites, or from large steel drums currently stored there. If so, mining activities may release this hazardous contamination. This sensitive location also means that the impacts from mining and trucking will be felt particularly hard by local residents, as well as the birds, salmon and other wildlife that depend on the area.”
Those concerns aren’t adequately addressed under the current review process, CHB charges.
“It's difficult to know exactly what hazards the project might create, but concerns stem both from mining itself and the trucking of mined materials,” the report continued. “Both would create noise day and night, disturbing wildlife and neighborhoods alike. Dust and other air emissions would also not be contained on-site and could further degrade local air and water quality already suffering from other pollution sources.”
The sand and gravel removed from the site will be used for local construction projects as well as fulfill the Department of Natural Resources requirement for mine reclamation and slope stabilization.
The city will accept public comments on the noise study until March 3, after which planners will issue a final decision on the project. Permit details are available at tacomapermits.org.