Frac Mines erupting like acne in Trempealeau County
Below is a map of industrial mine sites in Trempealeau County on the Land Management web site
Frac sand mining operations could go expand to around the clock under a measure a Trempealeau County committee is considering.
Trempealeau County has more than a quarter of the state’s 100 frac sand mines.
“We need to stop and truly evaluate how we are going to live and what we’re doing for our community,” Ettrick resident Mary Hegnauer said. “We’re going to turn ourselves into a sacrifice zone, a frac sand waste land.”
Kevin Lien, director of the Trempealeau County Department of Land Management, said the committee is considering the changes to meet the industry’s demands.
The decision to extend mine operation hours was not decided at the July 10 meeting, but is on the agenda again for the August 21 meeting at 9:00 a.m. Agenda item #8.
TREMPEALEAU COUNTY ENVIRONMENT AND LAND USE COMMITTEE DEPARTMENT OF LAND MANAGEMENT
COURTHOUSE, BOX 67
WHITEHALL, WI 54773-0067
(715) 538-2311, Ext. 223
REGULAR MEETING AGENDA
Posted August 15, 2013
There will be a Regular Meeting of the Environment and Land Use Committee on
Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 at 9:00 AM
County Board Room,
36245 Main St., Whitehall, WI.
Trempealeau County Board Meeting August 19
TREMPEALEAU COUNTY BOARD
1. 2013-08-01 Moratorium on Permitting of Industrial Sand Activities
It seems fairly simple and safe on the surface. It’s just sand right?
Trempealeau 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.
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 The regulations of non-metallic mines are outdated by 2O years or more.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 storm water 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 a Plymouth-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. Wis. sand-mine spills cause call for penalties against Minn. firms
Trempealeau County may face law suites far into the future
The county had better sweat the small stuff
What is the the “small stuff”? – the health effects of dust. Mine Operators argue the sand grains themselves are harmless — think sand on a beach. What mine owners do not say in 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. 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.
This is who the county is dealing with: Pioneer makes and distributes proppants
A proppant is a material that will keep an induced hydraulic fracture open, during or following a fracturing treatment.
Where is the money coming from? 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.
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, 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. 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. 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
FRAKNE = FRACINSTEIN! It’s just sand…right?
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