Homeowners concerned about dust clouding neighborhood

New Market homeowners concerned about dust clouding neighborhood from nearby mine

Posted:
A chalky, gray mess is blanketing everything from the trees to trampolines in this neighborhood off Dear Meadow Way. A chalky, gray mess is blanketing everything from the trees to trampolines in this neighborhood off Dear Meadow Way.
Nyrstar officials say it's happening because of recent dry and windy weather conditions. Nyrstar officials say it's happening because of recent dry and windy weather conditions.

By LAURA HALM
6 News Reporter

NEW MARKET (WATE) - A New Market homeowner asked 6 News to find out what can be done to keep dust from a nearby mining company from blowing into their neighborhood.

The underground zinc mine is owned by Nyrstar, which runs a mill and three mines in Knox, Jefferson, and Grainger counties. Its Young mine in Jefferson County is raising concerns for homeowners who live less than a mile away.

A chalky, gray mess is blanketing everything from the trees to trampolines in this neighborhood off Dear Meadow Way.

"When I first saw it, I thought it was snow," said homeowner Bill Barnhill.

The dust blowing through the last four days is not snow, but agricultural lime.

"The mines are located close. Our properties border each other," said homeowner Robin Provenza.

Nyrstar officials say it's happening because of recent dry and windy weather conditions.

Homeowners say they've never seen it this bad before in the winter.

"I really don't know what to do to make it better," added Barnhill.

Nyrstar has contacted Tennessee Valley Resources to help. In the past, TVR has used a sprinkler system so that dust from the lime piles wouldn't spread, but because it's so cold, there are challenges getting water pumping through the system.

The dust is so bad the Barnhills are not letting their little girls play outside.

"You breathe it so it can't be healthy," added Michelle Barnhill.

Nyrstar officials say agricultural lime poses no health risks and the dust is not dangerous. Nevertheless, homeowners say concerns are clouding their minds.

"If something isn't done about it pretty soon we're going to have to move again. Because not only do I not want to live in this dustbowl, but I don't want my family to be here either," said Barnhill.

Work on resolving this issue may begin this week, although we're told by TVR officials it's tough to do anything right now because of the weather.

We're told the zinc mines in Knox, Jefferson, and Grainger counties are not dangerous. There are no heavy metals and they're monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency.

People who are sensitive to airborne allergens may experience temporary sneezing or itchy eyes.

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