The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 27, 2013

Your View: Let's remember lessons from asbestos debacle

By Edwin Harrington, Mankato

— After attending the combined House and Senate hearings on silica sand at the state Capitol Tuesday, I was appalled at the testimony of Jordan Sands.

They stated that the Mankato site was chosen because it had the least impact on the surrounding environment.

Scott Sustacek, CEO of Jordan Sands, stated that the neighbors of their silica sand mining and processing plants would be minimally impacted. He specifically mentioned the quarries, the metal scrap industries and the dump.

He neglected to mention the 800 people who live in Lime Township and are in close proximity to their proposed silica sand mining and processing project. We will be profoundly affected. The quality of our air and water supplies, as well as our health, are threatened by this project.

Good studies on silica sand mining and processing on surrounding communities' air and water quality are lacking. There is not even a state standard for silica particles in the ambient air.

The citizens of Lime Township are hoping that the state will place a moratorium on silica sand mining and processing in Minnesota until a general environmental impact study can be performed to assess the true risk to southeastern Minnesota. We do not want to follow Wisconsin's footsteps with this industry.

Remembering the asbestos debacle makes one even more cautious about the risk of silica sand mining, transport and processing. The release of fine microscopic particles (a known carcinogen) into the air mandates that a study at the state level to develop air and water quality standards for silica sand be conducted. Otherwise, we may travel down a similar path as asbestos, only to discover a new round of silicosis (silica-related lung diseases).