The Human Impact of Frac Sand Mining – Editorial

Microscopic Silica Particles Cause Lung Damage             photo: http://elcosh.org

There are several studies on the impacts of frac sand mining underway, from many different perspectives. There are no comprehensive studies that are available now.  Citizens feeling powerless to have any control over this intrusion into their environment are resorting to videos to get their stories out. I invite you to take a few minutes and listen to some of these, they say it best.

There is no doubt that jobs are created with any mining operation. The numbers used speculate on numbers of plants, rapid growth, and stability of the industry. Many of the jobs created are driving heavy equipment and trucks. These jobs require training often necessitating recruiting workers from outside the impacted areas,  and are seasonal. Numbers are computed based on “man-hours” of operation. The reality is often 10-16 hour shifts, and when allowed to mines operate 24 hours, seven days a week to maximize profits.

Proponents argue the increase in local taxes collected will help the local community’s tax base, lowering taxes for everyone.  Even in a heavily regulated local environment, the reality experienced in Wisconsin is that only with carefully crafted ordinances does the actual cost of mining on local services even get repaid. Often low traffic roads suddenly become truck freeways, and the affected towns and counties bear the cost of any improvements needed just to meet safety concerns.  In a well crafted ordinance the additional expenses of road maintenance, dust removal, sewer demand or waste water cleanup, and reclamation of the site are all protected with bonding in advance. For townships, there is no well-defined county or state testing of air and water quality that is required with these operations, so any specific testing to meet concerns of local residents must be funded by local government.

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