Locals Hold First Citizens Silica Sand Mining Summit

Updated: 01/19/2014 8:43 AM
Created: 01/18/2014 8:48 PM
By: Sean Boswell

(ABC 6 News) -- Many people in Southeastern Minnesota are concerned profits are being placed ahead of health. Saturday, those people tried to educate on the risks involved in silica sand mining.

"We have 8 generations who have been blessed to live in Houston County, and we would like the next 8 generations to have the same blessings that we have had," said Marilyn Frauenkron Bayer.

Bayer is concerned that silica sand mining is hurting air and water quality by contaminating both with particles. She is not alone.

"I believe that the health and safety of residents should always take precedence over profit," said Kelley Stange, a concerned citizen.

Strange, like Bayer, is from an area known as a karst region. These areas can be easily contaminated due to the fact that they have sinkholes. The rivers are connected which means if silica particles get in the water they will travel.

"Sinkholes lead to streams, they lead to springs, and those lead to rivers, so where one item of pollution goes in doesn't mean it stays there, it does not, it continues through downstream," said Strange.

According to John Linestine with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the danger of silica is that it is a fine particle that can get into your lungs, and that can cause some pretty serious illnesses.

"It can be a driver for silicosis, which is a chronic disease, also can be a driver for asthma and other lung conditions," said Linestine.

Silica sand has many uses, including glass making, abrasives and sand traps at golf courses. Those who argue for silica sand mining say it could create hundreds of new jobs as well as raising 10's of millions of dollars.

Locals hold first ever frac sand mining summit.