Fire at Frac Sand Mine Leads to Lawsuit

Contamination from an underground fire last year at a northeast Iowa sand mine on the Mississippi River allegedly cost a neighboring company more than $500,000.

A report in the Des Moines Register said that a federal lawsuit brought by Consolidated Grain and Barge Co. claims that smoke and soot from the fire at Pattison Sand Co. spread from the mine onto its property and tainted grain, salt, fertilizer and other products the company had in storage.

Workers inside the Clayton County frac sand operation were welding on July 10, 2014, when sparks landed on plastic piping and ignited the fire, according to the lawsuit.

In the wake of the fire, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration ordered the mine and Consolidated Grain’s property to be evacuated due to concerns about air quality, according to the lawsuit.

The Louisiana-based shipping company also had to hire experts to make sure its facilities were safe for workers and storing products. It also had to pay extra charges because it could not load or unload products scheduled to be shipped in rail cars and barges.

“As a direct loss of access to its storage facility, Consolidated Grain suffered a prolonged disruption to its business operations for an extended time following the fire,” Des Moines attorney Philip Bubb wrote in the lawsuit.

In recent years, Pattison’s operation has been cited by the federal government for violations ranging from falling rocks to dangerous levels of silica dust inside the mine.

Nobody was injured in the underground fire.

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