Winona County officials have extended the timeline for citizens to comment on two environmental studies of proposed frac sand mines after data was left out of the documents when they were released to the public last month.
This is the second time mistakes have been made in the Environmental Assessment Worksheets (EAWs). Winona County staff members released the documents once before, only to find that information about where public comments should be directed was incorrect on the forms. The county then re-released the EAWs on December 24, but recently found that sections were missing from the documents. Because of the missing data, public comments on the EAWs will be accepted by the county until February 6, rather than January 23 as previously indicated.
The documents include data on two mines proposed in Saratoga Township by William and Ida Yoder and Roger Dabelstein. The purpose of the environmental reviews is to allow the public to comment on the plans, and those comments and the environmental data are expected to assist county commissioners in determining whether further environmental study is necessary. Members of the public may submit comments on the proposed mines and EAWs by sending them to Jason Gilman, Winona County Planning and Environmental Services Director, 177 Main Street, Winona, MN, 55987; or comments may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The complete EAWs are available at the Winona Public Library and on the Winona County Web site (www.co.winona.mn.us).
Both mines would be operated by Minnesota Sands, LLC, and the EAWs describing the proposed operations are nearly identical. The Yoder mine would encompass an 84.3-acre site, while the Dabelstein mine would be located on a nearby 36.5-acre parcel.
Each mine would produce two million tons of sand per year, and would use 300 trucks per day to haul the sand six days per week. Currently the sand would be hauled along designated routes to the city of Winona, Wisconsin, or Iowa, both EAWs state. If a processing facility is constructed within a more economical vicinity of the mine the haul routes will likely be amended through a conditional use permitting process.
The EAWs also attempt to identify other planned sand mining and processing facilities in the region in order to evaluate potential cumulative impact. The list includes:
Yoder and Dabelstein mines;
A number of processing facilities in the city of Winona;
A large number of shipping facilities in the city of Winona where rail and barge access is available;
Proposed Minnesota Proppant processing and transportation plant on 300 acres near the city of St. Charles, with an annual processing capacity of four million tons;
A 19.1-acre quarry site proposed in Saratoga Township on property owned by Dave Nisbit, which proposes to haul sand to the city of Winona;
One 50-acre mine proposed in Fillmore County in Holt Township on County Road 10;
Three pre-applications for mines in Fillmore County in Pilot Mound Township, just south of Saratoga Township, about a mile from Winona County Road 33, south of County Road 104 and County Road 30 (two 50-acre mines proposed and one 30-acre). The mine operator is listed as Minnesota Sands;
The EAWs also refer to a Winona Post October 2012 interview with Jennifer Dessner, Minnesota Proppant spokesperson, who said the company had nine leases with property owners for mines in three counties.
The EAWs also attempt to summarize all of the potential cumulative effects of the mines, including:
Impact of vibrations on neighboring properties caused by blasting cap rock;
Impact on road infrastructure and safety due to truck traffic;
Impact of traffic entering the cities of Winona and Goodview with regard to levels of service, safety and infrastructure capacity;
Impact on air quality due to dust or airborne crystalline silica;
Impact on water quality due to change in land cover and runoff quality/rates;
Impact on processing facilities, existing and proposed;
Impact on shipping facilities, existing and proposed;
Impact on other quarries, existing and proposed;
Impact due to expansions at existing processing, shipping, or quarries;
Impact created by fluctuations in market demand;
Impact created by new technologies and material uses.