After the expiration of an 18 month moratorium, Allamakee County has adopted rules that will regulate silica sand mining in the area.
Allamakee is one of three counties in the Northeast corner of the state to have silica sand deposits, making them enticing places for prospective sand mining companies to locate. The market has grown in recent years for the sand as it is used in the process of hydraulic fracturing.
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Even with the new rules, Zoning Administrator Tom Blake says it’s unlikely a mine will open any time soon. He says area residents are concerned about the possible environmental impacts of a mine.
Pattison Sand Company operates the only silica sand mine in Iowa just to the south in Clayton county. According to Darla Kelchen, the county’s economic development director, the expansion of the mining operation has created more than 200 jobs in the area.
During this River to River program, host Ben Kieffer talks with Blake and a representative from Pattison Sand Company. David Osterberg and Tom Peters, researchers at the University of Iowa who are studying the possible health and environmental effects of frac sand mining, also join the show.