I’m not a resident of the town of Union, but live within 50 miles of the proposed sand mine project at Symco. I subscribe to the County Post-West and have not seen a lot of citizen input or concern from people in and around the surrounding areas and I’m wondering why.
Sand mining is not new to Wisconsin, but it has had its share of problems, so making sure that there are sufficient safeguards before proceeding is prudent. Many residents of the Town of Union are concerned about air quality and water issues if this mine is approved… and rightly so. This is not, however, a town issue – this is not a county issue – it’s not even a state issue. The air and water quality issues are something everyone needs to be concerned with.
Wisconsin’s sand deposits have high levels of crystalline silica. When workers chip, cut, grind or drill, it produces silica dust, which is considered a human lung carcinogen. This dust accumulates in the air and the wind will take it many miles. It is, therefore, an air quality issue that doesn’t just affect the immediate area. It has been pointed out by UW-Madison researchers that safe particulate matter in the air is measured at 2.5 microns or smaller. They estimate a sand mining plant in operation would be three times those baseline levels. It has also been pointed out that the level of particulate matter downstream from a project would have higher levels of particulate matter – thus a concern for all citizens not just in Symco.
Everyone should also be concerned about water issues. The water in underground aquifers isn’t the given that we’ve always been pretty much accustomed to. Once an aquifer is fractured the water can completely be diverted. I find it really hard to understand how anyone in good conscience, especially in a drought year like this one, could think of taking a chance of drilling two high-capacity wells for use in processing sand when people, livestock, crop irrigation, etc could be jeopardized. Another thing to think about is that same dust causing air problems will eventually settle. The Little Wolf River and its tributaries are very close and enjoyed by many. When airborne particles settle, will they contaminate the fish or cause other problems?
Jobs are important to everyone, but a thorough research of the pros and cons to this sand mining operation is a must. There are so many short-term and long-term implications, I hope cooler heads prevail and more research goes into making the decision before the project is approved.
To the people reading this, let someone know how you feel. It is a very important issue.
If you want to learn more about this, go to ttp://youtu.be/X-xIsUKycgQ abd watcg the online video, “Menominee Sand Mining-Panel 1” h). It’s very enlightening.