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  1. Heather Andersen says:

    As a resident of the Town of Auburn I am concerned about the ethical behavior of our board members in accepting monies ($5,000) for our township from a mining company who at this time hasn’t been permitted to have a mine in our township. It appears to me that this is an out and out bribe when this company is not a member of our ‘community’ as yet but has purchased over 1,000 acres in hopes to start a mining project. When the board members accepted this money with out any input from the citizens of this township it was not an ethical, let alone, a moral decision. If the board has nothing but their ‘good name’ in representing their constituents it has fallen far short of that representation. It was extremely poor judgment at this time in this manner. Somehow I have always expected more from a board who has been elected by the majority to represent their constituents. For elected officials it should be an honor to serve not a dishonor in serving.
    Heather Andersen/Town of Auburn

  2. Letter to RL Chronotype:

    In reading the comments from the online version of the Chronotype I think there is a need to explain just what all the fuss is concerning frac sand and citizens health. This is a very simplistic explanation of the issues….an Exposure to Silica Dust #101, if you will…..

    Although all sand contains silica the danger is not in the sand on roads or beaches. The danger of respirable crystalline silica dust comes from the disturbance of the sand that has been in our earth for millions of years. As the mines tear open our hills and bedrock, silica quartz or crystalline silica dust is released. This cannot be seen as the particles are smaller than the pollen from plants. These particles are inhaled and come to rest in our lungs causing serious and irreversible damage. Those at most risk are the elderly, the very young and those who’s health is already compromised. Please be informed that the round, hard grains of sand themselves are not the issue. The problems are the particles that hold that sand together forming our landscape. An easy explanation is that the ‘glue’ that holds the sand grains together is the danger. As this sandstone is broken apart the crystalline silica dust is now free to be blown miles away from the mine or processing plant. This is the reason for air quality programs from the DNR and other federal agencies. To control the dust from these sites watering down the sand piles is frequently used. Viewing the end results of the amount of respirable crystalline silica dust by the use of air monitor readings is used as a gauge to determine the amount of dust in the air and when that air becomes hazardous to a persons health. Over 100 plus physicians and health care workers from the immediate area have signed a statement conferring that respirable crystalline silica poses a health risk to citizens living near mines and mining facilities having stockpiles of frac sand.

    We are in a unique situation in this area of Wisconsin i.e., having many mines and processing plants in a relatively small area and more to come may pose a threat to our health. There hasn’t been any data collected about the dangers of the fugitive dust (fugitive dust is that dust which is allowed to blow freely from, for example, stockpiles of frac sand) to citizens living in the area of mines as there has been research involving those miners who work in the actual mines and facilities where silicosis is a very real health problem. We cannot stop these mining companies from starting up their businesses. We need jobs. We also need to understand and accept the health risks and deal with those issues in a sane and non combative manner . A health issue is just that….a heath issue. There is absolutely no political gain nor loss to be realized on any side if we continue to keep the health, safety and well being of all our citizens in the fore front of this new industry.
    Heather Andersen
    Town of Auburn
    County of Chippewa

  3. Prairie Farm Frac Plant Plans Pulled
    posted Nov 30, 2011 5:37 PM by Frac Watch [ updated Nov 30, 2011 5:54 PM ]
    ProCore has pulled out of its leases with Sandy Bruder. There will be more detail in this week’s Hay River Review (delivered to PF residents and available at local PF businesses). You’ll see ProcCore’s statement on their website.

    This means there will be no ProCore plant on County P, and no ProCore mine on County D. Our town board has risen to the task of developing an ordinance that will protect the health and future of our community, and if a frac mining company doesn’t have the resources to build in such a way as to meet the standards required to protect our air and water, we are lucky they are going elsewhere.

    The Prairie Farm town board has hired a good attorney and worked hard to create an ordinance that will give us the best possible framework for dealing with other companies who are likely to be coming in to prospect in Prairie Farm, so it’s necessary to continue with the work to get it in place to avoid going through this again.

    The DNR is starting to take the need to monitor for residual acrylamide seriously, and this is very likely to be a major factor in ProCore’s decision to pull out of the P site.

  4. The Rice Lake Chronotype

    The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ final report last week on silica provides more questions than answers on the potential health hazards of silica dust. But given the fever-pitch interest in frac sand mining in this part of the state, there’s clearly an urgent need to find those answers.
    The quartz-based sand we have here is highly coveted by the gas and oil industry for use in the increasingly popular drilling technique hydraulic fracturing. So much so that frac sand companies are rushing in to gain the permits that will allow them to extract and process millions of tons a year of the sand from beneath the farm fields of Barron County and other parts of the region where there’s a wealth of the resource.
    There doesn’t seem to be any question that crystalline silica in that sand is a carcinogen and a cause of other diseases-some incurable-such as the lung disease silicosis. In one 10-year period, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health identified silicosis as the cause of death for 75 Wisconsin workers who were regularly exposed to silica dust. What isn’t clear is how much of a hazard the dust might pose, if any, to the health of people living in the vicinity of sand mining and processing operations. There are no state or federal standards for so-called ambient levels of silica. Just six states have any silica regulations.
    Part of the problem is that silica is so commonly occurring. Quartz, the most commonly occurring form of silica, comprises 12% of the earth’s crust. But not all sand contains crystalline silica, and the content of silica in sand dust can vary greatly. It can commonly be found in road dust or dust kicked up from a farm field.
    There’s also evidence to suggest that newly mined or fractured silica may pose a greater threat than more weathered silica. Further complicating matters, it’s the smallest silica particles-smaller than what can be seen with the naked eye-that pose the greatest health hazard.
    The states that do regulate silica dust have differing standards and differing approaches to regulation, and there is no standard method for monitoring silica in the ambient air. One California study found that crystalline silica concentrations outside a sand and gravel mine did exceed the state’s health benchmark and noted elevated levels up to a half mile distance from the site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found “some potential” for environmental silicosis for people living close to uncontrolled sources of silica emissions. But Environment Canada-Canada’s equivalent to our EPA-found that not enough crystalline silica is entering the environment to be a danger to human life or health.
    The DNR report only concludes that based on the limited data available “silica concentrations are likely to be below the level of concern for individuals not living near a source of crystalline silica emissions.”
    That’s a finding that provides no comfort to people living next door to any of the frac sand mine or processing sites being proposed here.
    Based on the report, Wisconsin should move ahead quickly to require ambient air monitoring around the sites using the best science currently available, insist on mining and processing practices to minimize silica exposure to workers and the public, and ultimately establish air quality standards for crystalline silica to minimize public health risks.
    If you had a frac sand mine in your backyard, would you want it any other way?

  5. Heather Andersen says:

    Note: In reference to “Mine Pitched in Sioux Creek” by Anita Zimmerman, printed in the Aug. 31 issue of The Alert.
    What kind of “threat” would make a woman want to end the moratorium? Good God; I thought we came from hardy European stock who were not pushed around? How can a county highway commissioner say that County Highway I was “built” for the trucks that will be hauling sand along that route? We have never had that amount of weight or frequency of trucks driving over our roads before this Great American Mining Debacle. What about the message that is being sent by the mining companies that this will help our dependence on foreign oil? We are exporting petroleum products to other countries. Stop being sucked into the hype of prosperity given by the mining companies. The usefulness of a frac well is about five years. The amount of oil or natural gas that is produced is minimal compared to the amount that is projected to these sand companies and investors. Ask if any mining CEO, engineer or fellow who runs the “crusher” has seen reclaimed land that is viable for anything. How does a company who destroys a wetland “make” another wetland? How does one replicate the unique biodiversity that is wetland? Health? Two physicians stating this is a great investment and job opportunity while over 100 doctors and health care workers have signed a letter regarding health hazards? I believe these two doctors took an oath to do no harm. They know the health risks and are still willing to compromise their Hippocratic Oath? Why is it that no sand company wants to put in air monitors, fighting tooth and nail against them? When it comes to conditional use permits there is much jockeying with boards usually giving in or the attorney saying he will work on the language … for whom? The companies start out asking little; then keep asking for more when changing original plans, height of buildings, covering piles of sand, not wanting board members to come into the plant to observe without a couple of weeks notice. If you need a couple of weeks notice for people to come to your house then your house is dirty! Many of these company spokespersons are incredible actors. They either don’t know the answers they should know or there is a great deal of whining about how much money they lose by waiting for the permitting process. The final act is saying if you don’t give us what we demand we will take our “marbles” and go to where someone will “play the game.” This the most disgusting threat. It is painful to watch and hear grown men groveling and other grown men giving in. There is a selfish streak to people who must keep up with the Joneses and get the same monies others get at the expense of all. Towns, townships and counties have mission statements saying they will represent ALL people. There is only one part of this equation that is being represented. It is not me nor the health, safety and welfare of the entire community. Keep this note handy. When it comes your turn to deal with these people you can read it again and say, “I guess I was warned.”
    Heather Andersen/Town of Auburn/Chippewa County

  6. Heather Andersen says:

    This letter is in regard to the Preferred Sand Mining Company coming into the Menomonie area. I personally attended meetings at the Town of Bloomer in the past months regarding this company trying to put up a dry sand processing plant. They are now at the conditional use permit phase. This is general information on what I have personally observed in attending meetings around the area. Many of the statement came from the meetings with Preferred Sands and will be identified.
    A county highway commissioners (Barron Co) said that a particular route will be used to haul sand because these roads are built to withstand the traffic. The truth is
    we have NEVER had the amount of weight or frequency of trucks driving over our roads before this Great American Mining Debacle. I observed 32 semi loads coming onto Hwy 64 and County DD from the Preferred Sands mine in the Town of Cooks Valley in 39 minutes. They turned off onto Hwy 25 South to travel to Menomonie What road can with stand that abuse? What about the message that is being sent by the mining companies that this will help our dependence on foreign oil? We are EXPORTING petroleum products to other countries. Stop being sucked into the hype of prosperity given by the mining companies. The usefulness of a frac well is about 5 years. The amount of oil or natural gas that is produced is minimal compared to the amount that is projected to these sand companies and investors. Ask if any mining CEO, engineer or fellow who runs the ‘crusher’ has seen reclaimed land that is viable for anything. How does a company who destroys a wetland ‘make’ another wetland? How does one replicate the unique biodiversity that is wetland? How do you replace a prairie?
    From Town of Bloomer meetings. How is it no sand company wants to put in air monitors, fighting tooth and nail against them? When asked if Preferred Sands would put in monitors the answer was ,”Why would we?” When trying to determine the amount of truck traffic Preferred Sands could not understand why we would be counting trucks coming back to the plant empty in the total truck traffic! This just did not compute with the fellow. When it comes to conditional use permits there is much jockeying around with the town board usually giving in or the attorney saying he will work on the language…. for whom? . This company started out asking little; then keep asking for more when changing original plans (they still don’t have a final plan and the board is expected to vote on allowing this plant without it? This is the question asked of spokesperson from Preferred Sands), taller height of buildings, changing plans to add a sand pile outside and not covering the pile, not wanting to take responsibility for the clean up of these silos and buildings when they leave, increasing traffic by adding another day hauling ,not wanting board members to come into the plant to observe without a couple of weeks notice. (If you need a couple of weeks notice for people to come to your house then your house is dirty!) These company spokespersons are incredible actors. They either don’t know the answers they should know or there is a great deal of whining about how much money they lose by waiting for the permitting process. The final act is saying if you don’t give us what we demand we will take our ‘marbles’ and go to where someone will ” play the game”. This the most disgusting threat of all. It is painful to watch and hear grown men groveling and other grown men giving in. There is a selfish streak to people who must keep up with the Jones’s and get the same monies others get at the expense of all. Towns, townships and counties have mission statements saying they will represent ALL people. There is only one part of this equation that is being represented. It’s not me nor the health, safety and welfare of the entire community. Keep this note handy. When it comes your turn to deal with these people you can read it again and say, “I guess I was warned.”
    Heather Andersen/Town of Auburn /Chippewa County

  7. NYTimes.com

    August 22, 2011, 9:30 PM
    Looking for Gas in All the Wrong Places
    By STANLEY FISH

    Stanley Fish on education, law and society.
    TAGS:

    COMMUNITIES, FRACKING, HYDRAULIC FRACTURING, NEW YORK STATE
    It was a big week in Andes, N.Y. Last Thursday, the New York Post devoted a full page to the small Catskill village, describing in some detail the Andes Hotel, the surrounding “rolling corn and hay fields,” the affordable housing, the Hunting Tavern Museum, the country store, the coffee shop, the tea shop, the farmer’s market, the art galleries and antique stores, the occasional celebrity resident, the extraordinary natural beauty — everything that led the Post, in an earlier article about great day-trip destinations, to dub Andes Woodstock-as-it-used-to-be.

    And then, the very next evening, there was another event that provided an ironic counterpoint to that summer valentine. One hundred sixty Andeans, including the town supervisor, members of the town board and candidates running for a seat on the board, met in the school gym to hear a presentation on the geology of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” (the process of extracting natural gas by blasting underground rock formations with a huge volume of chemical-laced water pumped down at very high levels of pressure) and to express their views about what fracking would mean if it came to the town.

    The first thing to say is that 160 is an enormous number given that the town’s population is 1,600 and residents weren’t given much notice of the meeting. Were a corresponding percentage of New Yorkers to turn up at a public hearing, there would be no place large enough to hold the more than 800,000 attendees. The second thing to say is that many stayed for the entire three hours and 40 minutes, the length of a short Wagner opera.

    The first hour and a quarter was taken up by a sober, pretty much even-handed, explanation of the hydraulics of fracking, the locations in New York of the most promising sites for drilling, the effects on the landscape, the dangers of leakage, explosions, contamination and discharge of radiation, the available methods for containing or mitigating these dangers and the effectiveness (not yet very great) of those methods. As a life-long academic, I was amazed at the sustained and respectful attention of the audience members, many of whom (it turned out) already knew most of what they were being told. It is a rule in my profession that if you talk longer than 50 minutes you will lose your audience. On this occasion, the patience displayed was extraordinary and it extended into the question and answer period, which lasted another 75 minutes.

    Then came the evening’s centerpiece, three-minute prepared statements delivered by townspeople who had signed up in advance. It is often said that the opponents of fracking are mostly second-home-owners and weekenders who selfishly prefer their enjoyment of a bucolic landscape to the needs of the long-termers who came before them. But the speakers who stood up to have their say represented every sector of the population — farmers, small-business owners, real estate agents, six-generation natives, newcomers, artists, musicians.

    As different as they were, the message was the same and it was eloquently proclaimed: “What we have here is unique and beautiful.” “We have to take action to keep the town we love.” “We must take our destiny into our own hands.” “Andes could become the model for the country.” One of the speakers was a local and a folksinger. She made up a song on the spot and taught it to everyone. The refrain was “If we work together / Then we can make it better.”

    Interspersed with the expressions of love, hope and resolution were substantive points of anxiety. No one knows how much contaminated water will escape and where it will go. Even if we stop it here other towns might surrender and we could see a truck kicking up dust and leaking sand every 60 seconds, seven days a week. The noise level will make conversation impossible; no more sitting on the porch of the hotel or the coffee shop. Property values will plummet by 50 to 75 percent (this from a long-time Realtor). Banks are reluctant to write mortgages on property that is being drilled on. There might be limited short-term benefits to a few, but the boom will be followed by a bust, and when it is all over “people won’t want to live here anymore.”

    There was agreement that regulation wasn’t the answer, first because no regulation could prevent the disasters that come along inevitably with a project this large, and second because the state couldn’t be counted on either to pass or enforce regulations: “I can’t trust an industry that has got itself exempted from the air and clean water act.” The position that emerged at the end of the evening was simple and unequivocal: “You can’t regulate them but you can ban them if you are sophisticated enough legally and if you remain strong and stay the course.” Every statement was greeted with loud applause. One speaker called for a straw poll. “Anyone in favor of fracking?” Not a hand was raised.

    “Inspiring” is not a word I usually use, but this evening was inspiring. The devotion to community, the civic-mindedness, the sheer intelligence displayed by everyone who spoke was a more powerful argument for coming to Andes than the beauties and attractions listed by the Post. But the argument will come to nothing, and everything the Post celebrates will be no more, if the rural birthright of Andes is sold for a mess of fracking.

  8. /11/2011 9:10:00 AM
    Citizens speak out against sand plant
    Ryan Urban
    Chronotype staff

    About 40 people attended a public hearing on a construction permit for a sand drying plant near New Auburn, and not one person spoke in favor of it.
    The hearing was conducted Aug. 3 at the request of Superior Silica Sands, the company applying for the permit.
    The plant is already under construction because the Department of Natural Resources granted a waiver to Superior Silica Sands to begin construction, but the final construction permit must be issued in order for the plant to operate.
    A crusher and sand mine, which is under construction 6 miles south in the Town of Auburn, were included in the draft permit up for comment at the hearing. The mine and crusher are currently covered by separate permits, but those permits will be void if the construction permit is issued.
    The topic of primary concern at the hearing was the potential for particulate matter containing silica to escape from the operations, particularly the drying plant.
    Silica is a primary component of sand and is hazardous to humans in high amounts. The smaller particles, under 2.5 microns- or millionths of a meter, are the most dangerous because they can enter the deepest parts of human lungs and cause silicosis, cancer and other health problems.
    Thirteen people spoke during the public comment portion of the hearing. All expressed concern, fear or disdain for Superior Silica Sands’ operations.
    Peter Holm, a medical doctor and New Auburn resident, said current Environmental Protection Agency standards for silica emissions may not be good enough.
    Holm said the DNR has not researched silica enough to ensure it is imposing standards that will adequately protect the public. He referred to a December 2010 DNR study on silica that concluded that more information is needed in order to set safe standards.
    The study, titled “Draft for Public Comment Status Report to the Natural Resources Board: Silica Study” states: “Because this is a new issue for Wisconsin, this lack of data means it is not currently possible to determine conclusively whether or to what extent the quantity, duration or types of silica emissions in the state may, indeed, be a public health concern. It would take significant additional efforts to fill in these data gaps.”
    Crispin Pierce, a UW-Eau Claire environmental health professor, also expressed doubt that the measures implemented in the design of the facilities would adequately prevent hazardous levels of particulate matter from escaping.
    Pierce referred to a section in the preliminary operation permit that stated that the estimated amount of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns released in a 24-hour period would come within 7% of the EPA standard.
    In an interview after the meeting, Neal Baudhuin, a DNR air management supervisor, said the standard is a new standard and is hard to meet. He added that Superior Silica Sands could not meet the standard in initial analysis and added precautions in order to get under the standard.
    Superior Silica Sands’ request for a variance, or waiver, for installing an ambient air monitor at the mine site was also up for comment. Such a monitor would measure the amount of particulate matter smaller than 10 microns in the air.
    If Superior Silica Sands can show that the public will not be exposed to dangerous amounts of particulate matter, the variance may be granted, said Baudhuin.
    But more people expressed concern that an air quality monitor is not required at the dry plant site.
    Holm said air monitors are the only way to ensure the public is not exposed to levels of particulate higher than the EPA standards the DNR is enforcing.
    Heather Anderson of the Town of Auburn said that a drying plant in Chippewa Falls installed monitors. She questioned if the health of New Auburn residents was any less important that a monitor need not be installed.
    “Why not have a monitor? If there is a monitor, [plant operators] can know if there is a problem and correct it,” said Anne Kuhlman of Bloomer and formerly of New Auburn.
    Many citizens expressed suspicion that Superior Silica Sands might not follow through on permit requirements. Baudhuin said that if they suspect a violation, they can contact a local DNR air management supervisor.
    The DNR will also consider written comments on the permit and requested variance. The deadline for comments is Friday, Aug. 19.
    The DNR has 60 days from the end of the public comment period to issue a construction permit and approve or deny Superior Silica Sands’ request for a waiver of an air quality monitor.

    Draft permit and preliminary analysis
    According to the DNR’s analysis, the maximum theoretical emissions from all operations would be 632.65 tons per year.
    Particulate matter would constitute 65.64 tons of the total emissions. The rest would primarily come from the burning of the natural gas, which is used to run the drying plant’s dryer.
    Of the total particulate matter, 30.55 tons would be matter under 10 microns and 10.92 tons would be under 2.5 microns. The EPA regards both sizes as potentially dangerous, particularly the smaller.
    The primary source of the smallest particles is the dryer, which has the potential to emit 2.2 pounds per hour or 7.7 tons per year. The dryer dust collector would potentially emit 1.44 tons per year. Units at the mine site would only potentially emit 0.88 tons per year.
    The potential emissions are based on the DNR’s requirements that the facility not operate more than 7,000 hours per year and not process more than 1.4 million tons per year. Superior Silica Sands’ mine and crusher site at the intersection of Hwys. DD and 64 in Chippewa County may not process more than 2 tons of sand per year.
    Baudhuin said these standards were set in order to keep the facilities’ emissions at safe levels.
    Emissions from the dryer will be controlled by a baghouse using felt Dacron/polyester blend bags to capture dust. Baudhuin said Superior Silica Sands must monitor the baghouse to ensure dangerous amounts of particulate matter are not released. If too much escapes the facility, the company must contact the DNR.
    Filters, enclosures and other measures will be used in storage and load areas.
    Particulate matter emissions at the wet plant will be controlled by applying water or chemicals to the sand and installing hoods, enclosures and air cleaning devices in places where materials are handled. Trucks hauling the sand must be covered and travel at low speeds on unpaved roads.
    The dry plant must undergo a stack test within 180 days of when operation begins to demonstrate compliance with EPA standards for particulate matter.
    Superior Silica Sands must submit a fugitive dust plan within 60 days of when a final operation permit is issued. The company must also have a malfunction prevention and abatement plan in place for all units.
    Superior Silica Sands must keep daily records of all precautions taken to prevent particulate matter from escaping. The company must submit monitoring reports every 6 months and a certification of compliance once a year.

    Construction permit waiver
    The drying plant is already under construction because Superior Silica Sands’ request for a waiver of a clause in the construction permit was approved by the DNR.
    The waiver was approved because the company showed that the dry plant would meet air quality standards and because the company could face financial hardship if plant operation is delayed.
    A letter to the DNR requesting the waiver states, “Superior Silica Sands has contracts with or is finalizing with the three major oil and gas service companies. The contracts require the production of 800,000 tons per year of finished sand starting October 2011.
    “Failure to begin production by October with ‘ramp up’ to full capacity by December 2011 will result in penalties and contract business losses up to $42 million annually. We could potentially forfeit up to $15 million in money lost that is currently being committed in capital toward this important project. Such losses could jeopardize the viability of the entire project.”
    The letter also states that the construction of the dry plant will be completed faster than usual because the company is moving an existing facility from Texas instead of constructing a new one. The moving must be done this summer to avoid revenue losses of as much as $35 million.
    Superior Silica Sands’ total operations are expected to bring 50 jobs to the area, according to the letter.

  9. CF activist earns Sierra Club honor

    by Andi Stempniak

    CF activist earns Sierra Club honor Patricia Pople outside her Chippewa Falls home. Patricia Popple, an opponent of sand mining, posed next to a sign in her front yard in Chippewa Falls. Popple maintains that a rapidly developing sand industry in Chippewa County poses risks to the environment and county residents.

    Posted: Friday, March 25, 2011 10:00 pm | Updated: 10:07 pm, Fri Mar 25, 2011.
    By Joe Knight Leader-Telegram staff

    Until three years ago, Patricia Popple, 71, a retired elementary school principal living in Chippewa Falls, didn’t spent a lot of time thinking about sand.
    But about that time she began to realize that sand in the hills of Chippewa County was attracting attention from mining and energy companies across the country.
    Popple’s activism in opposition to sand mines earned her the 2011 Earth Green Award from the Chippewa Valley Group of the Sierra Club.
    The sand, it turns out, has the right characteristics to be used in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – a new process for extracting natural gas from shale deposits. A recent series in the New York Times described it as the gold rush of this century.
    Fracking involves injecting sand, water and chemicals under pressure into shale containing natural gas. The sand keeps open fractures in the rock allowing gas to be extracted from deposits that previously were out of reach.
    Not any sand will work, which is why national companies have turned their attention to western Wisconsin, which has the right geology for “frac sand.” The right kind of sand, combined with mostly unzoned towns, make the county appealing to mining companies, she said.
    Problems associated with fracking, including contamination of ground water and drinking water supplies with chemicals, radioactive material, and natural gas, are now getting national media attention.
    But the business of digging up and processing the frac sand hasn’t gotten the public attention it deserves, Popple said. “People say, ‘It’s just a sand and gravel operation, don’t worry about it,’ ” she said. But she worries that large-scale sand mining has a downside.
    High capacity wells at the mine sites used in “washing” sand may lower water tables, affecting wells, lakes and creeks.
    Trucks hauling sand around the clock, will wear out local roads faster and affect the serenity of the rural countryside, she said.
    Fine sand particles blowing from mine sites or a new sand processing plant being built in Chippewa Falls pose a health risk, she said. The particles can cause an irritation of the lungs called silicosis and other health problems, she said.
    In January the state Department of Natural Resources released a draft report on the potential dangers of airborne sand that included a survey of how other states regulated airborne silica, which may lead to the state developing outdoor standards for airborne sand.
    County officials said the EOG Resources plant in the town of Howard is expected to begin shipping sand this summer, and three more mines in the county are in the planning stages.
    EOG plant manager Tim Stauffer said that in response to concerns from city officials EOG has modified the plant design to improve truck traffic flow and minimize congestion in the area. Plant officials have confirmed with state and county officials that nearby roads could accommodate the increased traffic, Stauffer said in an emailed response.
    “We took steps to improve the aesthetics of the facility and redesigned sand handling conveyors, storage and other equipment to reduce dust,” he said.
    EOG is the only mining site operator in the DNR’s 19-county West Central Region that has agreed to host on-site air monitoring, he said.
    “We believe our operations bring many advantages to the local community including 40 to 50 full-time new jobs, work for local trucking and construction contractors, increased local and state tax revenues, support for local business through purchases of products and services, and the involvement of our employees in local community activities,” Stauffer said.
    The sand extracted in Chippewa County also will help reduce the country’s reliance on foreign energy imports by helping develop domestic sources of oil and natural gas.
    Dan Masterpole, Chippewa County conservationist, said EOG is getting heavy scrutiny because it is the first of what promises to be a number of sand mines.
    “We think the EOG mine has been properly designed, and we’re confident they are going to meet the environmental standards,” he said.
    Knight can be reached at 715-830-5835, 800-236-7077 or joe.knight@ecpc.com.

    More Info
    Patricia Popple will receive the 2011 Earth Green Award from the Chippewa Valley Group of the Sierra Club for her activism opposing sand mining in Chippewa County. The award will be presented at the Gaylord Nelson Earth Green Dinner at 6 p.m. April 5 at First Congregational UCC Church, 310 Broadway St. For information call 715 835-4829 or go to wisconsin.sierraclub.org/chippewa/Meetings.htm.

  10. http://chippewa.com/news/local/article_9dcaa0d8-beaa-11e0-acd6-001cc4c002e0.html

    EOG to mine sand in Cooks Valley as well as the Town of Howard

    By MARK GUNDERMAN| mark.gunderman@lee.net | Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2011 3:00 pm

    Bobbie Scheel, right, on Wednesday makes a statement at a groundbreaking for Chippewa Sand Transport, the company contracted to haul sand to the EOG Resources Inc. processing plant in Chippewa Falls. She stands next to one of the 21 trucks the company purchased to do the hauling.
    MARK GUNDERMAN / The Herald

    EOG Resources Inc., the company poised to open a sand processing plant in Chippewa Falls, will haul sand from two Chippewa County mine sites, a company official confirmed Wednesday.
    In addition to the site in the town of Howard, the company will haul sand from a mine site about five miles away in the town of Cooks Valley, according to plant General Manager Tim Stauffer.
    And unlike in the town of Howard, EOG Resources has no agreement with the town of Cooks Valley to limit the months in which the mine will operate. Stauffer said that company will haul sand from the Cooks Valley site when the Howard mine is idle.
    Last week, EOG and the town of Howard, announced an agreement in which the company made a number of concessions in response to town concerns about mine operations.
    “They really wanted it to be (operated) in a condensed period,” said Stauffer.
    The company ultimately agreed that no mining, blasting or hauling would be done at the Howard site from May 1 through Oct. 15, effectively shutting the plant down for nearly half the year.
    But that doesn’t mean that EOG will not have the sand to keep the Chippewa Falls plant in continuous operation, not does it mean that the company will have to stockpile a supply at the plant site.
    EOG will simply turn to the Cooks Valley site.
    “That will be the summer months mine,” Stauffer said.
    However, without an agreement with Cooks Valley, EOG will be able to haul sand from the site all year long.
    This will make EOG the third company that plans to mine sand in Cooks Valley. The others are Preferred Sand and Chippewa Sand Company. A fourth firm, Superior Silica Sand, plans to mine sand in southern Barron County.
    Stauffer confirmed the agreement to mine sand on Cooks Valley property owned by Denny Schindler while at a groundbreaking ceremony for Chippewa Sand Transport, the company contracted by EOG Resources to haul sand from mine sites to the sand processing plant.
    The company displayed one of the new trucks manufactured specifically for the purpose of sand hauling.
    The trucks feature a Kenworth tractor, one of the big names in the semi tractor business, and a trailer specially built by Travis Trailers, a Texas firm.
    “It’s something they specialize in,” said Doug Titera, operations manager for Chippewa Sand Transport.
    The trucks are covered, with an electrically-operated tarp that unrolls to cover the load. The aluminum trailer is designed to be lightweight, but strong enough to haul 26 tons of sand in a single load.
    Unloading is by gravity from the bottom of the trailer. The sand would be unloaded below onto a conveyor system that would move the sand through the processing plant.
    Chippewa Sand Transport General Manager Bobbie Scheel said the company will have 21 such trucks.
    Titera said the company would employ 40 drivers within the first month of the sand plant’s operation, with growth to about 60 drivers expected.
    The company has just started construction of a building on the site, which is immediately to the west of the sand plant site. A residential home that was on the site was moved by the owner to a new location, according to Chippewa Falls Chamber of Commerce President Michael Jordan.
    “We are dedicated to being good neighbors to the area around us, and also the safest neighbors,” said Scheel at the groundbreaking ceremony.
    Meanwhile, work continues at the sand plant in Chippewa Falls. Stauffer said the company hopes the plant will be up and running in October.
    The company received 529 applications for about 50 jobs at the plant.
    “I bet 90 percent were from the Chippewa Falls/Eau Claire area. I was shocked that there were that many people looking for work here,” Stauffer said.
    The application pool was narrowed to about 85, with interviews taking place this week, Stauffer said.
    Copyright 2011 Chippewa.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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