Frac Sand Measurement Plan Moving Forward

The city of Winona, Minn., is a step closer to measuring frac sand in ambient air, according to the Winona Daily News.

The city’s planning commission voted 5-2 to recommend the Winona City Council approve the air quality monitoring project the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has proposed and said it will pay for, which would include setting up two air monitors on the roof of the YMCA to measure silica sand and diesel emissions.

The MPCA’s project would run for one year on the rooftop of the YMCA, a good fit because it’s at a good height, next to the interstate bridge – a primary frac sand trucking route – and a safe place for the equipment to not be tampered with, a MPCA representative said at a planning commission meeting last month.

The MPCA would pay for the equipment, maintenance, operation, analysis and staffing for the project, a total of about $60,000. The city of Winona would only be on the hook for preparing the site with electricity and for providing an on-site assistant as needed.

If the council approves the project, it would make Winona the first city in Minnesota to have a frac sand air monitor along truck routes.

The question of whether or not to monitor ambient air for frac sand has bounced among commissions and boards at the city for several months. Earlier this year, the Citizens Environmental Quality Committee recommended that the city conduct air-quality monitoring, and since, the city’s planning commission has been working with the MPCA to learn more about the process.

The city has said for some time that it would be interested in monitoring the air, but has been hesitant to take on the project in-house because of a lack of expertise and resources.

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