WHITEHALL, Wis (WSAU-Wheeler News) A year-long moratorium on new frac-sand mines is about to end in Trempealeau County in far western Wisconsin. The County Board in Whitehall voted 8-to-7 this week against extending the mining ban. A study committee has spent the last year examining the public health and safety effects of mining silica sand -- which the oil-and-gas industry uses in its domestic drilling equipment.
County health director Cheryl Rhoda says the panel's final report is still being finalized, and will be presented to the county supervisors in mid-September. Western Wisconsin has seen a boom in frac-sand mines in recent years.
At one point Trempealeau County had up to a quarter of the state's approved operations. There are now around 115 frac-sand mines throughout the state.