Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials say early tests have found no harmful chemicals after a spill near a frac sand mine sent millions of gallons of sludge into area waterways. A contractor’s bulldozer slid into a pond last month, leading to an hours-long rescue at a Hi-Crush Partners mine in Whitehall, Wis. Rescuers emptied 10 million gal. of water to reach the driver.
Hi-Crush Partners provided the following update regarding the incident, which occurred on May 21.
“On Monday, May 21, a bulldozer operated by a worker from Gerke Excavating, Inc. became submerged in a detention pond at our Whitehall facility,” said Scott Preston, chief operating officer of Hi-Crush. “Other workers on the scene promptly called emergency responders and immediately implemented our safety and rescue plan. This included reducing the amount of water in the pond, which allowed for a life-saving rescue. We salute the efforts of all those who were involved in the operators rescue, are proud of our team’s quick thinking, and are grateful that the bulldozer operator was able to return to his family.
“The emergency release of an estimated 10 million gallons of water was necessary in the successful effort to rescue the bulldozer operator. The water that was released to rescue the operator contained silt, clay and sand. As part of the regulatory framework governing our industry, we conduct analysis of water discharged from our facility, and those tests have shown no indication of substances that are harmful to wildlife, humans or the environment.
“We have initiated a clean-up effort in consultation with the state DNR and local officials. This includes installing sediment and run off barriers to contain and capture the silt; repairing the berm on the pond to prevent further drainage; starting to clean up the neighboring properties; and planning appropriate clean-up efforts in consultation with DNR staff.
“The Wisconsin DNR has taken dissolved oxygen samples upstream from the point where the silt initially entered the river and from areas within Independence, Arcadia, Dodge and the Mississippi River before and after the silt plume passed through. The DNR has informed us that they did not find any significant difference in dissolved oxygen.
“As always, Hi-Crush is focused on safety, and is committed to being a responsible community partner. We are performing the necessary clean-up and restoration efforts to mitigate any effects from the water release. Hi-Crush will continue to work with the DNR, local officials and our neighbors to address concerns in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner,” Preston concluded.