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Study required on first Winona County frac sand mine

WINONA — The first proposed frac sand mine in Winona County will be required to undergo an environmental study.

The Winona County Board on Tuesday voted 3-2 to require Dave and Sherry Nisbit, of Saratoga Township, to prepare an environmental assessment worksheet for the mine. The study looks at how the mine would affect air, water and other aspects of the environment as well as human health.

The couple, with help from engineers, must answer the questions in the EAW. County staff will then review their answers, and the county board will decide whether to approve it, said County Administrator Duane Hebert. The EAW must be approved before a conditional-use permit can be granted. Until it's done, work on the permit is put on hold, he said.

The studies usually take 60 to 90 days, he said.

Members of the public have questioned the impact of so many trucks moving the sand to a processing plant and the cumulative effect of more mines.


While the Nisbit's proposal is the only frac sand mine under review in Winona County, a large processing plant is being proposed for St. Charles.

Those opposing the worksheet requirement wondered how some things, such as the impact of sand trucks on roads, can be measured.

Those planning the mine said it would be a surface operation. Heavy equipment would scrape the top layer off of large hills, remove the desired sand and then restore the land so it can be farmed or used for other purposes.

If the EAW is approved, the Nisbits would still have to meet 35 conditions outlined in the conditional-use permit, Hebert said.

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