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Franc-sand mining opponents speak out at listening session in Eau Claire

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A pile of frac sand
A pile of frac sand

EAU CLAIRE, WI (WTAQ) - Opponents of frac-sand mining told the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board that its regulations on the industry are too lax.

The board held a listening session in Eau Claire Tuesday night, after it discussed various DNR policies earlier in the day and toured a frac-sand processing plant in Chippewa Falls.

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram said all but one of the 16 people who spoke at the listening session focused on silica-sand mining.

Trempealeau County resident Dani Johnson asked if the DNR’s standards are really protecting people. Speakers cited concerns about air quality, and the dust that’s blown off large sand piles.

Critics say the dust contains particles that can cause lung diseases to those exposed for long time periods.

The industry insists that silica sand does not pose health risks in open air. The DNR studied frac-sand mining last year, and its findings on potential health threats were mainly inconclusive.

The DNR’s Pat Stevens said his department is hard-pressed to study the matter further, due to limited staff and a lack of funding. The DNR said it monitors dust blown from sand facilities, but many residents say the agency’s not doing enough. 

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