A sand mining company in western Wisconsin is facing a large fine, after the state Department of Justice says the operators polluted local waterways with runoff. The DOJ has announced a $200,000 judgment against Preferred Sands of Pennsylvania, which owns the mine near Blair in Trempealeau County.
State officials says mud from the mine flowed into a stream and onto neighboring properties, following a series of heavy rainstorms in 2012. Up to six inches of mud were dumped into a stream and wetland, and sediment flowed onto four neighboring properties…including the first floor of a house.
Preferred Sands bought the Blair mine in late 2011. The firm said it recognized problems at the site right away. It tried to fix them, but determined the issues were more complex than originally thought. The Justice Department said the firm did not tell the whole story to the state DNR, including waste on slopes that was never stabilized correctly.
The company mines silica sand at the site, which is used in hydraulic fracturing. It’s one of several operations that have seen rapid growth in the state in recent years as demand for the sand has exploded because it use in oil exploration drilling operations.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says the case shows “Wisconsin will continue to enforce its storm water protection laws to prevent related pollution of our ground and surface waters. Operators of all sand mines must be vigilant in their adherence to Wisconsin’s environmental protection regulations.”