Sand mine permit in Howard gets OK
By ROD STETZER
Thursday, April 30, 2009 12:06 PM CDT
Canadian Sand and Proppants hasn’t opened its planned sand mine in the town of Howard, but the company now has an approved plan to follow once it decides it is done mining the site.
The Chippewa County Land and Conservation Department on Wednesday approved the company’s reclamation plan for the mining site, according to Dan Masterpole, county conservationist.
The company said processed frac sand mined from the site would be be mixed with water and used as a slurry. The mixture helps to push oil out of wells.
Canadian Sand proposes mining for small, rounded grains of sand, and trucking the sand to a processing plant in Chippewa Falls.
The mine would operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer, and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the rest of the year. The company says 100 to 120 trucks a day will be going in and out of the mine site.
About 70 people attended a hearing held by the county department on Feb. 28. Many people spoke against the plan, with some calling it inadequate.
Masterpole said Canadian Sand made many changes in the reclamation plan based on the comments aired at the hearing.
For example, the company dropped plans to use the reclaimed land for agriculture and instead plans to restore it with trees and wildlife. Masterpole said Canadian Sand also agreed to install more monitoring wells than its first proposal.
Among the conditions set by the department:
- “The site shall not be ‘dewatered’ by pumping or otherwise drawing down the elevation of the regional water table.”
- “Fueling inside of the mine will be discouraged and limited to vehicles such as tracked equipment that cannot readily access the fueling station. Fueling of highly mobile equipment such as rubber tired loaders shall occur on the constructed fueling paid at the permanent fueling station.”
- The county is to be told immediately of a hazardous waste spill, fuel spill or anything else that could have a negative affect on the groundwater.
- Canadian Sand must post a bond or an irrevocable letter of credit of $10,000 per acre before mine construction starts. The $10,000 an acre figure will be periodically adjusted for inflation and to reflect actual reclamation costs.
- The reclamation plan is to be reviewed every five years and changed when warranted.
A group called Concerned Chippewa Citizens is suing the city over the processing plant, which is planned for the city’s First Ward.
Judge Roderick Cameron earlier this month sent back a conditional use permit issued by the commission to Canadian Sand. Cameron agreed with the mining opponents that the city’s plan commission did not make required findings of fact when it issued the permit for Canadian Sand to exceed Chippewa Falls’ building height restrictions.
The plan commission has not set a date for a meeting to compile that information, said Rick Rubenzer, the city’s director of public works.
In a second lawsuit against the city, Concerned Chippewa Citizens disputes the city council’s approval on a 4-3 vote of a developer’s agreement with Canadian Sand on Dec. 16, 2008. The anti-mining group contends the city exceeded its authority in approving the agreement.