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Name: Sue M Gilbert
Status: Other
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What effect does a quarry have on the environment, and the people that surround it?
Health wise? Water contamination?

First, some clarification or assumptions about your question. There are naturally occurring quarries in nature: naturally those which are not man made would not impact the environment. I would assume that in your question you are referring to man-made quarries which are associated with some sort of mineral mining e.g. iron ore, coal, uranium, silver. Naturally the effect on the environment would vary with the particular material being mined, and the method by which the extraction is occurring. Depending upon the relative toxicity of the material, leakage from the disturbed mineral mining site into ground water could pose quite a serious health matter for both humans and other animals in proximity to the quarry. There is always the potential for erosion of soil and runoff of soil into nearby water supplies; this could affect life in nearby creeks and rivers. Once again, this information just gives you some things to consider and is quite general. For more specific information, please give detail as to the type of quarry you are describing and whether it is natural or man-made, and what the particular mineral being extracted (if this applies).


Yes mines can pose various threats, but up here in the Midwest, most quarries are simply pits where sand or gravel or limestone have been dug up, crushed, and hauled away for building materials. This type of quarry is relatively benign since it does not usually involve the use of toxic materials to process ore, and it does not leave mine tailings behind. I can think of two potential problems that have more to do with human behavior than with the environment. First, people may accidentally fall into the hole, or injure themselves by swimming in the pool of water that collects at the bottom (if the quarry pit reaches down to the water table). Second, people may dump trash or toxic waste into the pit, even though it is illegal. If the water table is exposed, this could be a potential source of groundwater contamination. Finally, a quarry pit is a unique ecosystem all its own, and will attract species that are adapted to living on cliffs or freshly excavated ground (like weeds, mosquitoes, water bugs, wasps, and maybe swallows or bats that feed on these bugs).


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