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10/24/2012 10:54:00 AM
Supervisors hear more public concerns about proposed sand mine

by Bob Beach

During public comment time at the regular meeting of the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors Monday, October 22, Ric Zarwell of Lansing showed the Board before and after photos of sand mine operations in Wisconsin, where there are approximately 80 mines in operation and over 20 jurisdictions that have placed moratoriums on sand mining operations.
“We are under threat,” Zarwell said. “The mining company wants to do this as fast as they can before we’re ready.” He said that Wall Street investors are betting that Allamakee County will give in and allow such mining operations. He said that because of the Haliburton Loophole, there are no federal regulations on frac sand mining or on fracing itself.
Zarwell expressed concerns about the impact of truck traffic on County roads and the potential contamination of the Jordan Aquifer, from which a third of Iowans get their drinking water. He added that potential archaeological sites had been discovered near the proposed mining operation southwest of New Albin.
Jack Knight of Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) said that RC&D has general concerns about the impact sand mining operations in Allamakee County would have on other kinds of development in the county, such as recreational, housing and tourism, noting that sand mines in the county would limit other options for development. He said that RC&D also has concerns about the impact mining operations could have on soil and water quality.
Area resident Jeff Abbas expressed concerns about fine silica dust that mining operations in the county could cause. He also said that the proposed mining site is “sensitive” archaeologically and botanically, noting the presence of rare species such as goosewood violet and blue line skink. He added that 30% of the frac sand mined in the United States would be exported to Saudi Arabia.

During regular business, the Board met with Robey Memorial Library Director Rick Meyer, who updated the Board on the library’s expansion project. He said that to date, over $1,310,000 had been raised through gifts, grants and pledges and that an application for a $200,000 Community Attraction and Tourism grant had been submitted. He also reported that the library has purchased a lot north of the library location that will be used for additional parking for the facility.
The Board also met with County Attorney Jill Kistler, who presented the Board with an amended resolution regarding the issuance of fireworks permits. Kistler said that she had removed the requirement for local fire chiefs to approve the permits in order to address liability concerns raised by local fire chiefs. Kistler said that there is no state requirement that fire chiefs approve of such permits. The Board approved the resolution.
In other business, the Board met via telephone with representatives from Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse, WI regarding a patient who was formerly a resident of Allamakee County and whose placement and funding for services has proved problematic. The Board approved the hiring of Sarah Peck as a full-time dispatcher/jailer, effective Monday, October 29, at a rate of $12.54 per hour, and also accepted and placed on file the Sheriff’s and Auditor’s quarterly reports.

Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, October 29, 2012
Article comment by: rosie iverson

There is good reason to be concerned. My property abutts a proposed frac mining site in Houston County, Mn. leased to Minnesota Sands, the same company you are dealing with. It's brewing in court now, with Mn Sands suing the county because they aren't getting their way. Moratoriums on frac sanding will help to give regulators time to ensure local ordinances address the complex issues of this disruptive industry.
The US EPA stated on Oct 10 that tests of drinking water near a natural gas drilling site in Wyoming supported a finding establishing the first link by the federal government between hydraulic fracturing and tainted water.
This industry has created a nightmare from the time the sand is removed from the ground until it is pumped back in.

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