The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 8, 2013

Your View: Silica sand plant not good for Mankato

Lynn and Darla Austin, Mankato

— They want to build a 14-story silica sand (frac sand) processing plant north on Third Avenue, 1 1⁄2 miles from Highway 14.

This plant will wash, dry, crack and screen crystalline silica. Crystalline silica sand is a known carcinogen that is used for the controversial frac mining of oil and natural gas.

Mankato and the surrounding area are listed in the Top 100 Places to Live in the United States. We feel building a plant like this within two miles of Mankato — or worse, having the city annex them — would be a detriment to the health of our citizens and future families looking for a place to live.

The plant would be located in a valley which is known for swirling winds. They are proposing having outside stock piles up to 70 feet tall. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that sand is going to blow. Yes, they plan on watering the piles and monitoring the air for the dangerous silica dust but that is of little comfort when you think of what health hazards they can cause, including silicosis, asthma and cancer.

Google “silica sand mining or processing plants in Minnesota or Wisconsin.” It will chill you to the bone.

When one plant is permitted in an area they are like dandelions, you’ll never get rid of them. This industry is very lucrative and will bring billions of dollars to the corporation’s coffers. This operation is said to employ 35 employees.

We don’t believe it’s an equitable tradeoff for our environment and the loss of its neighbors’ quality of life.