FRAC INSTEIN! It's just sand…right?

Bridgeport Planning Commission recommends approval for Pattison Mine

(The photos below show the Bridgeport Mine site in 4 zoom-in shots)

The March 14 meeting did not include a period for public comment. Todd Infield said that they (the commission) could not simply deny a mine on the basis of not wanting mining. Infield was making reference to objections of the Bridgeport Concerned Citizens group who argue that the issues of zoning conflicts and the threat of diminished property values near the mine were not addressed. If the mine is approved by the Township Board on Wednesday March 27 at 6:00 p.m., another door to the Pattison Mine will be open. The mining operation will have another hoop to jump in that they are required to receive a permit from the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board for the operation because of it’s very close proximity to the Wisconsin River. Sand Mining Advances (Looking at the photo on the top right the dark brown area is the Wisconsin Riverway.}

Video of the complete 3 hr. meeting of the Bridgeport Planning Commission

Why is the mine viewed as a Frac instien Monster?

It seems fairly simple and safe on the surface. It’s just sand right?

The town of Bridgeport in Crawford County is not alone in the contentious debate surrounding frac sand operations. Wisconsin frac sand mining sites have doubled in recent months. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” says federal official who ranks Wisconsin production as No. 1 in nation.

The frac sand industry has grown fast, and no government agency has an up-to-date list of all of the mines and processing plants in Wisconsin. A year ago, the Center identified 41 facilities operating or proposed in the state. This summer 87 are operating or under construction, with another 20 facilities in the proposal stage. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism article include an interactive map of mining operations in operation along with sites proposed – including the Patteson Mine in the Town of Bridgeport.

Not just about sand, it’s about money, BIG money

There is money in them there hills! The regulations of non-metallic mines are outdated by 2O years or more.

“Frac sand operations must follow state regulations for non-metallic mines. The rules written two decades ago were meant for small sand and gravel quarries, not 1,000-acre mines or industrial facilities that process up to 800,000 tons of sand a year.” (Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism)

Currently, all non-metallic mining companies must have a plan for restoring the land and controlling stormwater runoff from their properties. Two damaging sand spills occurred in Wisconsin this spring, caused in part by failure to follow existing regulations.

The first sand leak occurred in late April at a 50-acre sand mine and processing site near Grantsburg, Wis., owned by Trempealeau spillPlymouth-based Interstate Energy Partners and operated by Maple Grove-based Tiller Corp. It’s located 100 feet outside the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The second spill occurred in early May at a 160-acre sand mine near Blair, Wis., in Trempealeau County owned by Preferred Sands of Minnesota Company. (pictured left)
Wis. sand-mine spills cause call for penalties against Minn. firms

These spills are examples of what the “Bridgeport Concerned Citizens” are concerned about since the Pattison Mine would be adjacent to the Wisconsin River so any accidental leak would flow into the waterway.

Sweating the small stuff

The obvious problems to residents near mining operations, such as air and noise pollution from diesel trucks and mining equipment, wear and tear on local roads, and the possibilities for disastrous spillage like those that occurred in the past months. Still more potentially lethal unknowns may threaten health and harmony of animals and children, while big money interests push for production before the threat of the “small stuff” can be scientifically evaluated.

The Pattison Mine in Bridgeport is defined as a site that would mine AND process sand.

Another concern of the “Bridgeport Concerned Citizens” is the “small stuff” – the health effects of dust. Mine Operators argue the sand grains themselves are harmless — think sand on a beach. What Pattison does not say in his letters to the editors of County papers is that the silica dust particles created by the sand processing are basically tiny glass shards.

Exposure to silica dust can cause silicosis, a potentially fatal lung disease. There are federal limits on acceptable silica exposure in the workplace, and some workers use respirators. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reported 75 deaths in Wisconsin from silicosis between 1996 and 2005, mainly among manufacturing and mining workers. (Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism)

The really small stuff of the FRACinstein Monster

Particles are dangerous for our health. The toxicity of particles depends on their chemical composition and their size: the finer the particle is, the deeper it penetrates into our lungs.respiratory10 Scientists classify particles into two different size ranges which are known as PM10 and PM2.5.

“PM” stands for Particulate Matter which is another name for particles. PM10 refers to all particles which are less than 10 microns (µm) in size. PM2.5 refers to all particles less than 2.5 µm in size. The size of airborne particles is significant as this determines where in the respiratory tract the particles are deposited when we breathe them in. It also governs how the particles are cleared from our system and how quickly. Particles and Respiratory tract

The boy fishing in the photo is breathing in the air. The skeletal diagram shows where the different sizes particles end up in the respiratory system. The smallest size particles become lodged deep with the lungs.

In another Northwest County the company Pioneer Natural Resources is buying these parcels of potential frac mining land using the names of the little guy under a local name and turning it over to international companies.

Pioneer makes and distributes proppants

A proppant is a material that will keep an induced hydraulic fracture open, during or following a fracturing treatment.

The same Pioneer Corporation buying up sand frac land in Wisconsin makes many of these proppants. One of these proppants, ATLAS CRC-E, is described on there web site:

ATLAS CRC-E is coated using proprietary technologies engineered to minimize fines.
CRC-E has good crush resistance even prior to exposure to bottom hole
temperature. The resilient coating aids in the reduction of fines generation by
encapsulating cracked substrate grains, thus permitting longer pumping times for
placement in high temperature wells.
Atlas Crce2040 PDF

ATLAS CRC-E is made using technologies that are a company secret. We do not know what the process is or what chemicals are used. A general definition of proppants on Wiki leaves some alarming possibilities as to the make-up of these proprietary technologies:

While the fracking fluid itself varies in composition depending on the type of fracturing used, and can be gel, foam or slickwater-based. In addition, there may be unconventional fracking fluids. Fluids make tradeoffs in such material properties as viscosity, where more viscous fluids can carry more concentrated proppant; the energy or pressure demands to maintain a certain flux pump rate (flow velocity) that will conduct the proppant appropriately; pH, various rheological factors, among others. In addition, fluids may be used in low-volume well stimulation of high-permeability sandstone wells (20k to 80k gallons per well) to the high-volume operations such as shale gas and tight gas that use millions of gallons of water per well.

Conventional wisdom has often vacillated about the relative superiority of gel, foam and slickwater fluids with respect to each other, which is in turn related to proppant choice. For example, Zuber, Kuskraa and Sawyer (1988) found that gel-based fluids seemed to achieve the best results for coalbed methane operations,[1] but as of 2012, slickwater treatments are more popular.

Ignoring proppant, slickwater fracturing fluids are mostly water, generally 99% or more by volume, but gel-based fluids can see polymers and surfactants comprising as much as 7 vol% , ignoring other additives.[2] Other common additives include hydrochloric acid (low pH can etch certain rocks, dissolving limestone for instance), friction reducers, guar gum, biocides, emulsion breaker and emulsifiers.

Radioactive tracer isotopes are sometimes included in the hydrofracturing fluid to determine the injection profile and location of fractures created by hydraulic fracturing.[4] Patents describe in detail how several tracers are typically used in the same well. Wells are hydraulically fractured in different stages. Tracers with different half-lives are used for each stage. Their half-lives range from 40.2 hours (Lanthanum-140) to 5.27 years (Cobalt-60). Amounts per injection of radionuclide are listed in The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) guidelines.The NRC guidelines also list a wide range or radioactive materials in solid, liquid and gaseous forms that are used as field flood or enhanced oil and gas recovery study applications tracers used in single and multiple wells.

Except for diesel-based additive fracturing fluids, noted by the American Environmental Protection Agency to have a higher proportion of volatile organic compounds and carcinogenic BTEX, use of fracturing fluids in hydraulic fracturing operations was explicitly excluded from regulation under the American Clean Water Act in 2005, a legislative move that has since attracted controversy for being the product of special interests lobbying.WIKI

FRAC INSTEIN! It’s just sand…right?

Riverway mine moves closer as Walker boosts frac sand industry


3 thoughts on “FRAC INSTEIN! It's just sand…right?

  1. Pingback: Bridgeport Mine – Supervisor gets the check!

  2. Pingback: Fighting the “sand man” – Little towns fighting big money

  3. Pingback: Mining – Two Little towns fighting big money

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