Stephanie May wrote a letter to the Tribune last week discussing a previous letter I had written on frac sand mining, specifically the relating to a flier paid for by the Glen Hills Concerned Citizens. I am writing this letter not to refute her input, but as a vehicle for information.
My understanding of those Vista presentations was Vista was giving a possible range from 500,000 tons to 1,000,000 tons of silica to be moved. The 1,000,000 tons is Vista’s goal. Because of regulations and Wisconsin winters, the number 750,000 tons is their projection/target amount. If the Wisconsin winter is mild enough, there could be a longer mining season. Two winters ago, this would have been a shoe-in. Since I am basing my numbers on the 8 months and 750,000 tons, I will stay with 125 loaded daily trips. The thing is, whether there are 125 loaded trips or your number of 166 loaded trips, everyone agrees the roads will be much busier than they are now. My personal hope is that if the mine is established, a rail connection could be negotiated.
I understand the concerns you have for crystalline silica. Before Vista can mine and process sand, they must have a DNR approved Fugitive Dust Control Plan. The FDCP requires Vista to engage in best management practices to minimize the potential for dust to leave the site. During non-freezing conditions the FDCP will require Vista to monitor and water internal roadways and the plant yard on a daily basis – unless ¼ inch of rain falls. Trucks leaving and entering the site must be covered and can go no faster than 10mph. John Stoffel, an air management engineer from the Wisconsin DNR, told the Glenwood City school board (2/20/13) that if Vista follows the FDCP, there should be no safety concerns with air control. He said he would have no problems sending his kids to Glenwood School.
I think the committee that has been working together to develop the nonmetallic ordinance is a good mix. I am so sorry that Downing feels slighted, but they can be assured this group represents the concerns of both Glenwood City and Downing. My understanding of Downing’s concerns (for the ordinance) is: setbacks and buffers, monitoring air emissions, hours of operation, private wells, and decibels levels. These concerns have all been incorporated in the nonmetallic ordinance that the committee is working on.
I am going to end this letter with a what-if. You probably know this, but the Augusta Frac mine was awarded the Eau Claire Area Economic Development Corp.’s Paragon Economic Impact Award for 2013. This award is given to the business of the year in Eau Claire County. Let me repeat that, a frac mine was awarded business of the year. The Augusta frac mine’s developer, Hi- Crush, does an amazing job. It dawned on me after learning this, that the developer can make or break the operation of the mine and also the attitude of the community toward it. If Vista Sand were to start mining here, wouldn’t it be something, if they were awarded business of the year by St .Croix County!!! What if?
Stephanie, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Your editorial was a good read.