Wisconsin reworks frac sand mining permits

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is in the process of drafting a new general wastewater permit for frac sand mines and processing facilities, reports Wisconsin Public Radio.

The new rule would require companies to self-report the chemicals they used to wash the sand, which can contain trace amounts of toxic materials. WsDOT says the most recent permit, which expired in 2014, wasn’t designed to cover large-scale mining and didn’t include a way to track what mining companies are adding to their wastewater.

“Since industrial sand mining has become more prevalent and growing in the state, the department has taken a look at how the size of the operations and the level of process is occurring and felt it was appropriate to split that off into a separate permit,” Roberta Walls, frac sand specialist for the DNR, tells the news agency.

The DNR is now catching up with the booming frac sand industry, especially in western Wisconsin. “We have a lot higher volume of material being washed, and we’ve got more additive use than we’ve ever had, that I’m aware of in the past, and our old permit just didn’t allow us to — we didn’t have a way to look at that.” Jim Devlin, a wastewater specialist with the DNR, tells the news agency.

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