Frac sand health fears rise as mining booms in Wisconsin

Environmental Health and Safety Manager Duane Wilke said he has a vested interest in making sure the Superior Silica sand processing plant in New Auburn keeps the dust down: his 15-year-old daughter. “I would never do anything to harm the air quality, to harm my own daughter,” he said.

Like some other west-central Wisconsin residents, Frances and Dean Sayles are frustrated with the state Department of Natural Resources’ lack of a comprehensive approach to addressing concerns surrounding potential health problems from crystalline silica dust. Now some residents, academics, local government officials and even a frac sand producer have begun taking action. Continue Reading

Under legal pressure, Wisconsin coal-fired power plants curb emissions

Janis Schreiber, 72, lives about a half-mile from Dairyland Cooperative's two coal-fired power plants in Alma, Wis. Her nonsmoker husband suffered from emphysema, a lung disease, before dying in 2006 at age 80. Schreiber, who has breast cancer and knows many neighbors with cancer, said she wonders if the plants' emissions have affected Alma residents' health.

Dairyland and other Wisconsin coal-fired plants have begun lowering emissions, but not necessarily in response to demands by pollution regulators. Many of the changes have resulted from pressure and lawsuits brought by the nonprofit Sierra Club, which has campaigned for a decade to cut emissions from coal combustion. But enforcement is inconsistent, and some residents living in the shadow of coal plants are concerned their health may be affected. Continue Reading