What Happened to our LAND? (click to enrage)

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Hover for title, Click to enlarge Contact info: Pat Popple, sunnyday5@charter.net . . . . Hank Boschen, juiceguy@juiceguy.com What follows is the story of how a Mining Company moved in to a small town, and in our opinion decimated our AIR, WATER, ROADS, and PROPERTY VALUES. HYDRAULIC FRACTURING, or FRACKING is the process of pumping a slurry of water, chemicals and Silica Sand into the earth under high pressure to extract Natural Gas from Shale. See FRACKING Video . ( Fracking is like a high pressure ENEMA with highly toxic substances that bursts open the guts of the earth destroying the inner barriers and allowing oil, gas and water to mix and contaminate each other.) See Water Contamination Video. Northwest Wisconsin’s rolling hills are sandstone hills, containing the kind of sand used in hydraulic fracturing. Just as mountain top removal for coal has devastated the coal region, many here fear that hill top removal for frac sand will devastate this beautiful region.  Canadian Sand and Proppants, Inc. (CSP) (now owned by EOG) is only one of many mining companies seeking to remove the hills of Wisconsin to get access to the frac sand. Canadian Sand and Proppants Inc. worked for many months in secret with our city and county officials to pave the way for a Silica Sand Processing Plant in Chippewa Falls. Small notices of annexation and rezoning were published in the Chippewa Herald, but there was no end user named and no mention of SAND. When some citizens did find out about the Sand Plant, a group called Concerned Chippewa Citizens was formed to head off the devastation of our rural economy, family farms, small businesses, property values, health, safety, and quality of life.  We have discovered that the negative aspects of this project have been and continue to be seriously understated. Too many citizens still know nothing of the downsides of this plant and the area mines that will supply this SILICA SAND to the Plant. Concerned Chippewa Citizens urges you to spend some time on this site where we have assembled information that we believe outlines this threat, not only to our Chippewa Falls, but to all of upper Wisconsin. Recently, CCC has merged with other groups in this part of Wisconsin to become Save the Hills Alliance, Inc.  Other groups include Loyalty to Our Land from the Town of Howard, Save Our Hills from the Menomonie area as well as others who haven’t formally organized their citizens. EOG is in the process of  constructing a giant processing plant in the Northeast corner of the City of Chippewa Falls, covering nearly 100 acres of former farmland and destroying existing wetlands at the site. This land is right next to many homes, and just upwind of health clinics, schools, daycare, and a vet clinic. Using Highway S, EOG plans to transport 2.6 million tons of sand per year into the city plant from distant quarries for processing. The plant itself will have 5 stacks, two will be 51 feet high, and three will be 96 feet high. The AIR QUALITY PERMIT, granted to CSP (and transferred without change to EOG) by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regulates what can come out of those stacks. ….HOWEVER, unlike other industries that have to count ALL the pollution they put in the air, Mining gets a special “free pass” on much of the dust pollution they put in the air. For example, they don’t have to count the dust that will come off storage piles of sand. These piles will total 5 acres piled 70 -90 feet high! Sand dust will also come off of the trucks as they travel on Hwy S and as they enter and leave the plant as many as 500 times per day. Dust produced at the mines sites by blasting apart the hills, and digging 100 foot deep quarries is also dust EOG doesn’t have to count. Their permit states:   While the facility has the potential to emit substantial amounts of fugitive emissions, the fugitive emissions of a stationary source may not be considered in determining whether it is a major source.   In other words THEY DON”T COUNT FUGITIVES. FUGITIVE DUST comes from ALL ACTIVITIES at the mine sites, along the entire haul routes, and from the giant storage piles at the sand plant site. Remember, wind can carry fine particles hundreds of miles from their source! You can see this dust blowing off the Menomonie Sand Plant site even though their watering system is in operation now. The Menomonie sand piles are protected from prevailing winds by the mine face. EOG’s huge surge piles, having been moved from the mine site, will have no such protection. Internal DNR E-Mails INDICATE that,  if they counted fugitives,  EOG would probably not meet air quality standards. What’s wrong with dust?  Mining dust contains many sizes of particulate matter. The bigger sizes that you see are a nuisance that makes the air hazier and can settle on homes, cars, and plants. The smaller sizes that you can’t see are the real  health hazard. Those sizes are breathed deep into the lungs. Freshly mined Wisconsin sand contains an extra harmful kind of dust called Silica Dust. MORE particulate matter in the air lowers life expectancy, and LESS particulate matter extends life expectancy. The FUGITIVE DUST will be a major threat.  The fugitives contain the most dangerous freshly mined and fractured respirable crystalline silica in the smaller size particles that are harmful to our health. Most mining facilities do their mining and their processing all at one remote site, with large buffer zones between them and people who could be harmed by their dust. EOG, with the help of City and County officials, will spread their harmful dust from many mine sites, along truck routes, and into the city for everyone to breathe. A logical placement of electronic monitors upwind and downwind of the plant would allow a determination of how much dust is being emitted, but EOG has fought that off, and they have now agreed to place just one monitor as per DNR direction. Apparently this single monitor will be on the side of the site toward the closest residential district, instead of being on the downwind side of the plant during prevailing winds, so it will not on average measure peak emitted particles except when the wind happens to be blowing from the East. Even if this monitor does report that Air Pollution limits have been exceeded, all that is required from EOG is that they file a report! No Plant shut down, no immediate fine, no remedial action! What’s the point? To encourage local and distant citizen awareness of existing particle pollution levels, I (Hank), have installed three Laser Air Particulate Monitors SE of the proposed plant site. You can view the particulate counts on this web site under “Air Monitors” in the index. Our City Council and Planning Commission are expediting the construction of this huge processing plant. EOG received Tax Incremental Financing. It is a sweetheart tax break that is supposed to benefit the city long term. Many TIF’s fail, leaving the taxpayer holding the bill. Also, rarely are the true costs to taxpayers subtracted from the anticipated benefits. Chippewa Falls already has at least one failed TIF. Anyone with an interest in understanding how TIF deals hurt communities could read, “No More Secret Candystore.” “It’s a really good deal, for EOG.  For more on TIF’s click here. Neither the City or the County has asked EOG to pay a “sand tax” like most mining communities do. One has to wonder why. Even more of our tax dollars will be spent to upgrade the rail system in Chippewa and Barron counties, including the bridge that spans the Chippewa River to the South. EOG looks to be the main beneficiary of these expenditures. EOG’s increased truck traffic, carrying tons of sand on our county roads will increase the rate of damage to the roads, and we pay for their repair also. Increased truck traffic means more accidents, and more SEVERE accidents. Studies also show that homes near mining operations DROP IN VALUE. With operations spread across the County, expect lowered home values, assuming you can even sell a home next to mines and processing plants. At 2.6 million tons per year, more than 208 billion pounds of earth will be disrupted and removed over the lifetime of the mines – threatening food producing soil, local family farms, trees, plants, wildlife habitat and water resources, and flattening the landscape forever. For the claimed benefit of 20 to 35 local jobs, does EOG. have the right to dump this toxic garbage on us and our downwind neighbors? Where will that dust go if there is no wind, or when the wind blows towards your house, your school, or into the city proper? Then there is the Diesel Exhaust pollution from the 500 to 600 truck trips which might be of much more serious concern. Do check out the AIR QUALITY issues. How clean is our air in Wisconsin right now? Do look at the Air Particulate Count in Chippewa measured by private monitors displayed on this site. How much dust do you have to breathe to get Silicosisof the lungs? How dangerous is Diesel Exhaust to our children and to us.

Comments

  1. Canadian Delusion

    Earth Day 22 April 2010 40th Anniversary

    Remember Sen. Gaylord Nelson

    Friendly, foreign, far and near
    An Alberta Clipper refreshing and clear
    The Herald’s said we’ve nothing to fear
    Canadian Sand is coming here.

    A mining industry, squeaky clean
    But their colors are brown rather than green
    Sand mine diggings, their shovels gigantic
    Noisy beasts, motors clanging and frantic.

    The hills of Howard will soon be level
    The Horizon bleak–gone to the devil
    No more trees and no more corn
    It’s silica. citizens, real hard core porn.

    Black, brown, deep holes and sand
    All the blues of a mining town
    Hardly the scene of the green revolution
    Or alternative energy for all generations.

    The trucks will be covered like a crust
    Forever moving but not a speck of dust
    Over the roads night and day
    Just friendly neighbors at child’s play.

    Diesels revving greasy pistons
    Spewing soot from oily engines
    Filling the air with carbon dioxide
    And the killer, carbon monoxide.

    Oh diesel exhaust? That’s not smoke,.
    Fragrant incense preventing strokes
    Breathe in deeply, it’s just like soap
    ‘Twill clean your lungs, not a soul will croak.

    Those heavy loads on all our roads
    They’ll pay the price with every load
    Traffic congestion? You must be kidding!
    Not to worry if you do their bidding.

    One hundred acres of building and blight
    Hardly a picture of pastoral delight
    Rather a scene of industrial might
    The sky illumined with secondary light.

    And the processing plant, a shaft in the sky
    A phallic symbol right in your eye
    From Wissota shores to Irvine Park
    A blighted horizon from dawn through dark.

    The elixir of life is not only for beer
    Guaranteed safe and crystalline clear
    Now millions of gallons through the dung
    The Big Eddy Springs may well be done

    Steel cars clanking day and night
    Rolling away to distant sights
    Bound for oil wells and corporate profits
    See the picture? Have you got it?

    Construction crews may save some cash
    And truck drivers too will welcome the bash.
    But oil’s a resource in rapid decline
    An economy of sand is sadly malign.

    The only green that will ever be seen
    Are the bucks exchanged for trees and land
    And banks and brokers in Alberta tar sand
    Out sourcing profits is part of the scam!

    A healthy nation is not a choice
    Will our children be silenced, not have a voice?
    If beauty is truth, let’s keep it that way
    Resist this invasion, your feet are not clay!

  2. Heya, really good webpage, thank you for taking your time and efforts to actually produce it,
    it has to take you lots of time nonetheless very much enjoyed

  3. Dennis M. says:

    Hi,
    I live on West Hwy 29 in Chippewa Falls near the Hwy 53 Freeway. The Railroad has built a new Terminal to transport Sand. I don’t see anything about this new Terminal and it’s implications on your site or anywhere else. Building the Terminal has brought much traffic, the Dump trucks last and this Summer has been relentless and now that the Terminal is operating, the Sand trucks are moving. The City, of course, did not mention to the residents on this road any of this was coming.
    My immediate concern is the damage to the road with all this heavy traffic. The City recently has tried to get property owners to pay for road paving. The idea of having to pay to pave a road so the Sand companies can profit, in addition to enduring their pollution, is difficult to bear. Privatize profits and socialize losses seems to be the order of the day
    Any comments on this. Thanks.

  4. Janice Lynne says:

    Hi – I live in Fort Collins, CO, which is where your sand is coming, since they are tracking here on our high plains, in Weld, Boulder, and Larimer Counties. I am thinking we ought to correspond and see if we can get a “sister city” going to work together to expose the environmental damage this industry is doing.

  5. Jim Drost says:

    Another Tactic of Sand Miners

    At a town meeting this past week, a mining company official made statements directed at proving that comments, made by persons of opposing view point were false. He claimed that these persons had no verifiable studies done by experts that proved that polyacrylamide easily and readily breaks down (into acrylamide, which is a lethal neurotoxin, and compounds such as formaldehyde). Apparently, he missed their reference to “Linda Chalker-Scott Ph.D., in her article “The Myth of Polyacrylamide Hydrogels”. His basic statement was that the break down of polyacrylamide does not have formaldehyde as one of its end products. His contention is that since formaldehyde is used to make polyacrylamide, you therefore cannot reverse this reaction. His analogy was that if it were so, then the internal combustion engine could burn gasoline and discharge oil out the exhaust pipe. To everyone who is not up on his/her science, it might seem plausible; but in reality nature can reverse even the by- products from an engine. The return of polyacrylamide to its original chemicals is very likely to happen. Factors to consider are:
    1) Is it exothermic or endothermic?
    2) What is its “free energy” gradient; (or said another way “Potential Energy”)?
    3) What can start the reaction?
    4) Is the reaction reversible and what does it take to accomplish?

    Exothermic means it gives off heat (energy) when the reaction occurs; endothermic means it requires energy (heat) to make the reaction occur. An internal explosion in one of the cylinders of a tractor is an example of an exothermic reaction; the forming of a polymer from acrylamide is an example of an endothermic reaction. The “free energy” of the piston explosion has a very steep positive gradient (gives off a lot of energy), while the
    polymerization of acrylamide has a medium negative gradient. For the explosion to occur, it takes but a small spark; for the polymerization to occur it will require considerable heating and/or electrolysis. While all chemical reactions are usually reversible, the explosion will require mother-nature and millions of years to reverse the combusted products back to oil, but it can be done. On the other hand, acrylamide that has been polymerized, is now potentially an exothermic reaction, reversible to mono- acrylamide, waiting only for sunlight to initiate the reaction. This assumes that no contaminates are in the solution with the polyacrylamide.

    In other words, it is likely that the reverse process of polymerization will result in some formaldehyde as an end product of polyacrylamide. To state that the endothermic reaction (which created polyacrylamide) is not reversible is to deny scientific facts and observations.
    Whether there is formaldehyde or not is insignificant; it is the toxic chemicals formed when polyacrylamide combines with pesticides and herbicides in the real world environment that is the real issue. This mining official’s cowardly attempt to discredit persons of opposing view, (who are well versed in their field) either out of ignorance and/or malice, should be cause for great concern.
    Ben Burnt June 16, 2012

  6. Not only am I against the sand-removal but I AM AGAINST FRACKING period!. It sets a dangerous and destructive precedent for this country when the coporate/politico entrenched establishement is for it without controls whatsoever. IF anyone doesn’t understand the real issue for our future; that IF you do not prefer pure water and untainted food sources for you and your children to eat, you do have a form of temporary INSANITY caused by the blurr of $cash and the profit motive this industry uses to unbalance your reason. This is NO ANSWER to our present energy needs let alone our future ones. And is setting us up for an environmental disaster here at home that will hit you where it hurts the most. Not your pocket-book but your stomach and your health!

    JUST SAY NO TO FRACKING!. And congratulations to Vermont for being the first state to pass a state law banning this dangerous and reckless exploitation of our farm and wild lands…
    Michael Guy, FL
    PS: how can I join this alliance?. Though not from Wisconsin, I wish to preserve my future source of pure water and food!

  7. This is in reference to Ishmael’s questioning Whisperer (and others) about facts regarding mining. This website is a wealth of information for anyone who will take the time to read from the articles. It presents many diverse sides to a divisive issue. It does not present only one side if you go through the articles. Yes, it is NOT promoting mining for this area with no restrictions. Yes, it DOES give scientific evidence of the potential and known harmful effects of mining. There are articles from EPA, World Health Organization, MSHA, and well know academics to name a few that tell us that silica dust is a carcinogen, that diesel fumes are extremely harmful if not deadly to all life forms, that there is an aesthetic component to our environment when taken away causes depression in humans and taking away environmental habitat is pretty darn harmful to all forms of wildlife.
    These are facts presented as scientific proofs in academic papers presented by scientists in their respected fields. They are not all listed in this modest, informative website but are certainly available on the web. I would ask that you present your facts to this blog in a similar way. I’d also ask that you treat others with the respect that is due to one human to another and refrain from name calling those people that don’t agree with you. I also realize that the impossible disrespect from people to one another is, at times, humorous to persons who are prone to laughing at this type of horrific humor. I think that many who read this blog are not. impressed. Ishmael lets see the scientific proof of what you are telling us or stop with the ranting and name calling. Speaking for myself I am underwhelmed.
    Spectre

    • Ben Burnt says:

      What Happened to Our Land–Nuisance silica size?

      There really is no size particle that is just a nuisance and nothing else. The recycle processes that the sand processing plants used makes every particle size a potential hazard.

      The reasons for this are as follows:

      1) Polyacrylamide is used as a flocculent and degenerates into acrylamide after it has
      been recycled for a period of time. Acrylamide is a neurotoxin.
      2) Polyacylamide breaks down in the human body to acrylamide immediately when it
      is in the lungs, mouth, throat, and/or stomach. Oh, poison!
      3) Because larger particles coated with polyacrylamide attract very small particles that
      are more dangerous when in the human body, they can lodge in the lungs, throat and
      so forth just as rapidly as if they had entered the body on their on volition.
      4) There are many possible routes for polyacrylamide to pick up contaminates that
      make polyacrylamide and/or acrylamide far more deadly.

      That is why blowing fugitive sand after the dry plant can be so dangerous. Sand Companies would have us believe that polyacrylamide is rock stable; not so grass hopper!

      Ben Burnt

  8. Ben Burnt says:

    This Wall Street Journal artical is an example of the kind of mis-information disseminated to the general public. Most all of them are good-unsuspecting-honest individuals. Why no author?

    A Wisconsin vindication

    The public employees unions and other liberals are confident that Wisconsin voters will turn out Governor Scott Walker in a recall election later this year, but not so fast. That may turn out to be as wrong as some of their other predictions as Badger State taxpayers start to see tangible benefits from Mr. Walker’s reforms-such as the first decline in statewide property taxes in a dozen years. On Monday Mr. Walker’s office released new data that show the property tax bill for the median home fell by 0.4% in 2011, as reported by Wisconsin’s municipalities.

    Property taxes, which are the state’s largest revenue source and mainly fund K-12 schools, have risen every year since 1998—by 43% overall. The state budget office estimates that the typical homeowner’s bill would be some $700 higher without Mr. Walker’s collective-bargaining overhaul and budget cuts. The median home value did fall in 2011, by about 2.3%, which no doubt influenced the slight downward trend. But then values also fell in 2009 and 2010, by similar amounts, and the state’s take from the average taxpayer still climbed by 2.1% and 1.5% respectively. In absolute terms, homeowners won’t see large dollar benefits year over year, but any hold-the-line tax respite is both rare and welcome in this age of ever-expanding government.

    The real gains will grow as local school districts continue repairing and rationalizing their budgets using the tools Mr. Walker gave them. Those include the ability to renegotiate perk-filled teacher contracts and requiring government workers to contribute more than 0% to their pensions. A year ago amid their sit-ins and other protests, the unions said such policies would lead to the decline and fall of civilization, but the only things that are falling are tax collections. The political lesson is that attempts to modernize government are always controversial, but support usually builds over time as the public comes to appreciate the benefits of structural change that tames the drivers of a status quo that includes ever higher spending and taxes. The Wisconsin recall donnybrook in June will test whether voters value their own bottom line more than the political power of unions.

    “Reprinted with permission of the Wall Street Journal, ©
    2012, Dow Jones & Company. All rights reserved.”
    ———————————————————————————————————————–
    ———————————————————————————————————————–

    Save our small businesses

    After my annual visit with my tax professional, her words are still haunting
    me. She stated that in her forty years of working in the tax preparation
    and banking industry, she has never seen so many small Barron County businesses going under or on the brink of collapse. As she shook her head in despair, I inquired why. She looked at me very seriously and said that the state budget has taken the dollars from the people of Barron County and our small businesses are suffering the most. With the 10%-12% cuts in take-home pay for the state and public worker, that amounts to approximately $10 million in lost revenue for Barron County businesses.

    I knew this day would be coming, so I am appealing to the state and public
    workers of Barron County to seriously consider where you spend your hard
    earned money. Save our small businesses. These business people are our
    neighbors, friends and community members who all are struggling under
    this present state administration also. Form cash mobs where a group of you
    decide to go to a particular business and give them your business that day.
    Tell them who you are and that you understand what they are experiencing
    and that is why you’ve chosen them to receive your business.
    Our second U.S. President, John Adams has said, “Facts are stubborn
    things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of
    our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” In my family
    we have a saying, “It is what it is.” We have learned to make lemonade out
    of lemons. So those are the facts and evidence dear workers. We need to do
    our best to alter the effects of these facts.

    Donna Stelter-Thompson
    ———————————————————————————————————————
    ———————————————————————————————————————
    A Wisconsin Vindication?
    I do not see a vindication for Wisconsin, but rather a vindication for the wealthy in their attempt to further subjugate the common man/woman and turn them into future serfs for the new feudal system. Either the Wisconsin accountants that you quote are using their form of funny mathematics again, or the author of this article has made several intentional errors.
    The article states that the taxes on a median home fell by 0.4%; it also states that the median home value fell about 2.3%. If the home values fell 2.3%, then there had to be a mill rate increase in order to come out with only a 0.4% tax decrease. Additionally, there is the statement that the typical home owner had a savings of about $700 on his/her tax bill. If we concede that the $700 is 0.4% of the tax bill, then we get an approximate bill of $175,000 ($700/.004=$175,000). Wisconsin must have a very high percentage of wealthy people in its population. The reality is that most of the common people in Wisconsin that own a house of $300,000 or less, saw their real estate taxes go up. I know of several.
    I do not disagree with the principle that the teachers should, and should have been paying their 5.8% for their pensions. When we look at the teacher’s perk-filled contracts, we could say they were better than some; but when we compare it to the “Golden Parachutes” of the “Greedy Trash” that destroyed AIG and Goldman Sachs, I would say you are chasing a baby mouse while the “Bull Elephant” is thundering down on you. What is even worse is that the tax payers bailed these greedy individuals out so they could scurry off with their millions & billions.
    As written in the letter “Save Our Small Businesses”, collateral damage is just now beginning to set in on your “attempt to modernize government.” There doesn’t seem to be too many “tangible benefits from Mr. Walker’s reforms,” when a seasoned tax professional of 40 years has “never seen so many small Barron County businesses going under or on the brink of collapse.” Wisconsin’s modern new DNR has its own wealth of woes due to set in on loss of property values, pollution, and the impossibility of selling your home, when it is next to a mine, miner’s road, or down stream of where the frac sand mine sends its ½ million to 3 million gal/day of polluted waste water. Already, I know of property owners that are contemplating walking away from their investment and letting tax forfeiture and/or foreclosure take care of it. How big is your tax bill going to be when that happens? Maybe you can get the rich moguls (that helped Mr. Walker) fund the taxes. Strangely enough, I do not see an author to this gem of an article.

    Ben Burnt May 2, 2012

  9. Thank you for this most informative site. The local zoning possibilities look to be a good step. I realize that dangerous dust is one of the primary issues. What is the water use for these operations? I read that they use surface water, which can lead to pollution. How much ground water is used as well? How many high cap wells does the Chippewa site have? Water resources are becoming more of a concern statewide.

    Thanks to whoever for information on this.

Courteous, concise comments relevant to the topic are welcome, whether or not they agree with the views that predominate here. Long rants proclaiming the infallibility of your own views or favorite ideology will not be posted, neither will repeated attempts to hammer on a point already addressed, nor will comments containing profanity, abusive language, flame-baiting and name calling. Please indicate precisely what you are blogging about. I just got a post from ? E-Mail ? which said: "Is this going to be OUR furture??. I have no idea what they were referring to and no way to contact them. This is why we prefer comments that are signed by actual persons who leave their E-Mail address (it won't be published) so they can be contacted if questions arise.

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