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This Week’s Market Buzz

  • A Wabasha, Minn., citizens group is appealing a conditional use permit for a frac-sand-loading facility, according to KAAL TV. The “Friends of Wabasha” filed the appeal with the City Planning Commission. The group opposes the granting of the permit to Superior Sand Systems last month. The permit allows Superior Sands to build a loading facility for transferring silica sand from trucks onto trains for transport to North Dakota and Texas for use in the oil and gas extraction process called hydraulic fracturing.
  • A major safety blitz is on in Barron County, Wis., as demand for frac sand brings a long dormant railroad back to life, according to the Price Country Daily, reporting a story from Wisconsin Public Radio. For those living along the 45-mile stretch of Canadian National Railroad between Barron and Ladysmith train horns and the rumble of freight cars are distant memories. For kids 16 years or younger the line represented nothing more than rusty tracks and rotting ties overgrown by weeds. But now two trains each day pulling up to 95 cars loaded with frac sand will be roaring past at speeds up to 40 mph. Many in the community now see the increased rail traffic as a safety concern.
  • The Buffalo County, Wis., health department said it will no longer study the potential impacts of frac sand, other than to respond to requests from zoning officials. The department said at a recent committee meeting that continued use of staff time to research frac sand is not required. The decision comes three months after the county’s Health and Human Services Committee chose not to support extending the county’s frac sand moratorium, against the wishes of health department officials. At that time, Buffalo County Health Officer Jen Rombalski called for an extension, saying there is potential that frac sand mining increases particulates in the air linked to negative health effects. But the committee members and county commissioners against the extension said there wasn’t reason to continue investigating the potential health impacts of the industry. The Buffalo County Board of Commissioners eventually extended the moratorium to April 30.