The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Minnesota Department of Health are not alone in calling for a full environmental impact study in Winona County for a cluster of proposed frac sand mines and processing facilities near St. Charles, Minn. Click here to read the full account of how strongly the two state agencies want an in-depth study to precede any decision on whether to permit facilities proposed by Minnesota Sands LLC.

The county also has heard from Unimin Corp., a North American non-metalic minerals company with major frac sand mines near Le Sueur. Like the MPCA and Health Department, Unimin says two frac sand mines proposed by Minnesota Sands LLC for rural Winona County  should be viewed and studied as part of a larger web of facilities, even if they aren't built yet.

Unimin said the environmental data supplied by Minnesota Sands for the so-called Dabelstein and Yoder quarries is inadequate, partly because the proposed mines appear related to other projects, including a proposed $70 million processing plant and rail load-out near St. Charles.

The letter says that Unimin takes its responsibilities under Minnesota environmental review regulations very seriously. The company calls for a broad-based review in Winona County of all "related'' frac sand actions, including "land use impacts, wildlife impacts, water use, impacts on water resources, plans for erosion and sedimentation control, plans for handling waste, traffic impacts, air emissions, odors, noise, dust, visual impacts, infrastructure needs and cumulative impacts.''

The Winona County Board will have the final say.

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