TOP PHOTO: At Monday’s workshop, County Commissioners heard from multiple concerned citizens regarding the crypto currency mining operation that is going in at White Oak.

By Charlotte Underwood

JACKSBORO, TN (WLAF) – At the monthly workshop of the Campbell County Commission on Monday evening, Commissioners heard from multiple concerned citizens regarding the crypto currency mining operation that is going in at White Oak. Citizens asked the commission to consider approval of a resolution that would regulate companies putting in crypto currency mining, making them go before the commission for approval before going into unincorporated areas. 

During the public input portion of the meeting, several citizens spoke out in concern over a bit coin mining operation that is going into operation in White Oak. According to citizens, a bit coin mining company was already operating in Jellico and was causing “nothing but problems” and they “don’t want it in their community.” 

Angel Richardson addressed the commission first, saying that while she lived up the valley, this was a county and state wide issue.

“This concerns crypto currency mining. They come in, make their mess and they leave their mess. Water is used to cool these mines. It looks like a big bank of computers. The waste water that comes out of that kills aquatic life. We are easy pickings for these companies to come in and build these as we have no zoning in the county. There is already one in Jellico and another going in White Oak. Crypto currency; bit coin, it’s noisy, it’s polluting and it’s really not safe for East Tennessee,” Richardson said.

Cathy Hughs, who lives in White Oak addressed the commission as well, saying White Oak would not benefit from the bit coin mining operation. 

“The person or organizations who put these in are the only ones who benefit from this. White Oak will not benefit from this. We want to see our mountains preserved for future generations. Our community wasn’t even aware of this; we didn’t even know it was going in. It’s an electric hog, it steals power. If we start losing power up there, it’s going to jeopardize people’s lives,” Hugh’s said.

Concerned citizen Jim Bolton from White Oak addressed the county commission on Monday evening about the bit coin mining operation that is going into his community.

Sharon Marlow also spoke. She provided a copy of a resolution that if the commission passed, would regulate the bit coin mining operations. 

“We gave you a copy of a resolution regarding crypto currency mining. We hope you could get this approved so that they can’t just go in and open up a crypto currency mining operation anywhere. There’s been so much secrecy with this. We have too much to lose. All the places where they have gone in, Claiborne County, Union County, no one’s happy with it. When they dump that water, the algae is going to bloom and we’re going to have more problems,” Marlow said. 

Jim Bolton spoke, asking commissioners questions such as “who would monitor the facility, and how much money will the county get?”

“It’s Energy intensive, it produces electronic waste, puts heavy metals in the soil; it will affect air and water. It’s plain and simple, the pollution of the industry will remain local. How many people will it put to work? Jobs and benefits to community are slim to none. What will it do for the county? Nothing. These operations generate 30,000 tons of electronic waste. It ends up in landfills. That’s a negative for our county and any county that receives garbage from Campbell County. We’re made of air and water. We better keep that pure if we can,” Bolten said. 

County Attorney Joe Coker said he would send the resolution to CTAS to ask what authority the county has to adopt the resolution and regulate this industry and how it operates in the county. 

Commissioners said it was the first they had heard of the company coming in the county and that they had no say so.

“We have no control. If you want to have a pig farm or raise cattle, you can. These companies do their homework before they come in here. The County’s Power Act is the only thing I can think of. We tried this with a local rock quarry and it didn’t do any good. I’ve been here 16 years. Zoning has been brought up multiple times. People don’t want zoning.  I think the county ought to be able to do something and have some insight when these come in,” Commissioner Rusty Orick said. 

Commissioner Zach Marlow said his family lives very close to this facility.

According to Marlow, one year ago the property sold for $225,000 and a little over a month ago, it sold for $1.2 million. The property sets next to the substation. 

According to concerned citizens, the first company that owned the property was LaFollette Data and now it is owned by AVIT Corporations. 

“We need to stop it and see if we can shut it down,” Commissioner Beverly Hall said. 

Commission chair Johnny Bruce asked county attorney Joe Coker to report his findings from CTAS at the upcoming meeting on Tue., June 20 at 6 pm. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 06/13/2023-6AM)