The Fracking Sandbox

In a small township one hour east of Minneapolis, Minnesota, is the small town of Red Cedar, Wisconsin. It’s described on their web site as “a local township of 2,204 residents in West Central Wisconsin, located in a peaceful, rural setting amid rolling hills and vast farmland.”

The photo above, courtesy of the Frac Sand Sentinel, provides us with an aerial view of an ugly frackin’ strip mine, where frac sand is mined. That’s right, something the oil and gas industry doesn’t talk much about. Why would they? It’s yet another way this fossil fuel industry destroys the environment for what they like to call “clean burning natural gas,” while there’s nothing natural about it. A better term would be, “unnatural gas.” Meantime, they try to deflect all the attention to the mining required for renewable energy and electric vehicles.

On Thursday, Justin Mikula, of the DeSmog Blog, published a story about the Red Cedar, Wisconsin frac sand mine, titled, “S.E.C. Finds Fracking Sand Company Misled Investors With Claims of ‘Game Changing’ Sand – The fracking industry’s over-the-top claims to investors have been the norm, but even when proven to be fraudulent, companies suffer almost no consequences.”

Justin’s story goes on to describe how the company operating this strip mine agreed to pay a $17 million penalty for misleading investors. However, because that company and its successor company declared bankruptcy last June, the S.E.C. “will be deemed satisfied by a $1 million cash payment” which will be distributed to harmed investors.

Beyond the financial theme of his story, Justin brings to light a disturbing fact:

“A single well can require 10,000 tons of sand.”

This video shows what communities, and individuals, face in areas where frac sand is strip mined:

Ten thousand tons of sand translates into 20 million pounds, or over 9 million kilograms! Per well.

At 25 tons per tractor trailer load, that would require 400 tractor trailer load round trips, per well! Since some of the new well pads in western Pennsylvania are being permitted for over 50 wells, one of those well pads could require 20,000 tractor trailer loads of frac sand!

This video shows how that frac sand is now transported, in convoys of four tractor trailers each, once it’s off loaded from railcars or barges. Imagine 100 convoys of these trucks, and all the air pollution created from their diesel engines, for just one Marcellus shale gas well:

Beyond the logistics of getting millions of tons of frac sand to each well site, are the millions of gallons of water and fluids required to frac one well. Again, often being transported with hundreds, if not thousands, of diesel truck trips. Small wonder that our part of Pennsylvania still struggles with air pollution problems from particulate matter, like P.M. 2.5

In addition to the havoc that particulate matter pollution causes asthmatics, and those with compromised respiratory systems, the handling of all this frac sand adds the serious health risk of silicosis, to truckers, workers and those in the vicinity of fracking. Keep in mind that the particles in frac sand can be so small, actually tiny, that they can still pass through many respirators, and some workers fail to wear any respirator at all. Silicosis for gas workers, will likely be the 21st Century version of black lung disease, that adversely affects coal miners.

And “clean burning” is their sales pitch? Yeah, right!

Here’s a video showing clouds of frac sand dust billowing off a gas well pad in Washington County, Pennsylvania:

Destroy the water, pollute the air;
here, there, and everywhere.
Trash the land, frac sand man,
unnatural gas, destructive plan!

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