DNR chastises frac sand mine
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources alleges that Pattison Sand Co. has violated its plan to control dust while transferring frac sand from trucks to rail cars in Prairie du Chien.
The allegations came in a Jan. 31 letter of noncompliance from DNR air quality engineer Martin Sellers to the Clayton, Iowa-based company.
Sellers, who visited the site Jan. 9 and took photographs to document the process, wrote that "sand materials were being unloaded from the bottoms of trucks, and no precautions were taken to prevent particulate matter from becoming airborne. Fugitive dust emissions were noted."
In addition, the company’s fugitive dust control plan "is not complete, and it is inaccurate," Sellers wrote.
The letter gives the company a Feb. 25 deadline to explain and provide a completion date to correct the problems.
In an interview, Sellers said Prairie du Chien residents have complained to him about the operation. A Crawford Stewardship Project news release Friday echoed such concerns, saying, "Residents have long been complaining of the dust in their homes and health concerns."
A noncompliance letter is an informal first step in the DNR’s enforcement process that could escalate if a company does not comply, Sellers said.
The letter notes that Beth Regan, Pattison’s permits and compliance coordinator, told him in a Jan. 11 email that the company is taking steps to corral the dust.
"Since his visit, we’ve been making great strides to improve the loading process and capture the dust," Regan said Friday.
Among other things, she said, the company plans to have suction systems and shrouds for the dust. Prairie du Chien officials and representatives of the Crawford Stewardship Project could not be reached for comment on the dust issue. But the stewardship group’s news release alleged that the dust exposes residents to "potentially deadly and costly health problems."
Pattison also is in the DNR’s doghouse for operating without an industrial storm water-runoff permit, said Roberta Walls, a storm-water management specialist with the state agency. That violation was serious enough to require an enforcement conference where agency officials said the company must apply for the permit by Feb. 15, Walls said.
Walls speculated that the lack of permit may have been an oversight because the Wisconsin and Railroad Co. owns the property, and Pattison thought it was the railroad’s responsibility. "They have been very agreeable and very cooperative in this matter,“ Wall said. — - ©2013 the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.) Visit the La Crosse Tribune (La Crosse, Wis.) at www.lacrossetribune.com Distributed by MCT Information Services