Mining operations can be good for the economy, but the gravel pits they produce are full of dangers. Many environmentalists are calling for more public regulation due to the numerous health hazards and environmental risks from these huge holes full of gravel, including their impact on clean air, drinking water and productive farmland.
Gravel pits create the potential for accidents because they are often constructed in the floodplain of creeks and rivers. Children and adults have been seriously hurt exploring, accidentally falling into and drowning in gravel pits. Increased traffic from dump trucks that transport rocks and sand can create hazardous traffic conditions on rural roads, and man-made widening of creeks and riverbeds and the resultant changes to the water flow can undermine stable structures, including bridges.
Quality of Life Issues
Gravel pits affect the quality of life for local inhabitants. Mining operations and heavy traffic with large dump trucks cause hazardous traffic conditions, and produce dust, vibrations and noise. Mining extracts resources from the earth, such as metals, minerals, rocks and sand, and there are inherent environmental risks associated with the extraction process. Mining, whether it is for coal, gold or gravel, is all about extraction, and gravel pits often become toxic dumps. Heavy metals and toxins are concentrated in the air and waste water from the excavation process and are released into the local air and water supply.
Effect on Local Wildlife
Gravel pit construction and mine operations disrupt and displace wildlife and native vegetation. Heavy metals in the waste water are not easily removed through water treatment and can have potential effects on aquatic life. Digging huge holes in the ground exposes land to erosion and can lead to accumulation of silt in the creek or river, degrading the environment and resulting in topsoil loss.
Fighting the Dangers of Gravel Pits
It is easy to see why so many concerned groups are actively fighting to get legislation that demands adequate analysis of environmental impacts before new gravel pits are opened and require that provisions be made for the end use of the land. People and communities affected by the dangers of gravel pits want mining operators to take responsibility for the dangers they create with gravel pits, including enhanced safety measures, erosion and silt prevention, noise and dust reduction, and protection of wildlife corridors.