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Town to hear sand processing plant plan

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Chippewa Sand Company - air

The Chippewa Sand Company mine in Chippewa County is shown in this file photo.

company with an Eau Claire address wants the Town of Bloomer to grant it a conditional use permit for a silica sand processing plant and a transload facility.

The application by White Haven Sands, LLC was submitted before the Town of Bloomer put a one year moratorium on silica sand mining on Dec. 17.

The 92-acre parcel where the plant and loading facility is proposed is between Highway 53 and County SS. A railroad line runs next to the parcel.

The proposal by White Haven Sands will be discussed at a public hearing at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 3 at the town hall, 21281 Highway 40, Bloomer.

“The first thing will be to hear public comment on how the public would like to see this plant operated,” said Roger McFarlane, zoning administrator for the town of Bloomer.

The town’s Planning Commission can set such conditions as the hours of operation of a plant and controls over light and noise generated at the plant.

The Planning Commission’s recommendation will go before the Bloomer Town Board, which can accept them, modify them or reject them.

McFarlane said there are roughly 13 residences within a quarter mile of the parcel’s property line. He said letters to those homeowners telling them of the March 3 hearing were being sent on Thursday.

The town allows sand plants with conditional use permits in areas zoned industrial.

“The property has already been rezoned from agricultural production to industrial,” McFarlane said. White Haven made the rezoning request in early December and it was approved by the town board on Feb. 4.

“Any rezone of any type that happens in the town of Bloomer has to be approved by Chippewa County,” McFarlane said. The approval has to first go through the county’s Planning Committee and then passed onto the County Board. The process involving the county has not yet started.

It’s not clear which company’s mined sand would be processed on the White Haven Sands site. A Herald reporter’s phone calls to White Haven Sands in Eau Claire was not returned.

“The is a lot of expanded interest in that area,” said Dan Masterpole, director of Chippewa County’s Department of Conservation and Forest Management.

DRT Sands on Oct. 21, 2014 filed a reclamation permit application for a 245 acre sand mine in the town of Auburn. That town has a moratorium on sand mines, but the DRT application was made before the moratorium, Masterpole said.

The DRT parcel was originally part of a much larger proposed sand mine by Preferred Sands, which now is for 976 acres. Preferred Sands has not built a sand mine on the site.

Northern Sands on Jan. 31 filed a reclamation permit application for a sand mine on a 1,310 acre site in the town of Howard. It is called the Albertville Valley Mine.

If the mine is built, it will easily be the largest sand mine in Chippewa County.

Masterpole said EOG Resources is also asking to expand its 234 acre sand mine in the town of Cooks Valley by 40 acres. EOG filed its permit application on Jan. 8.

“They acquired more land so that they can expand their stormwater treatment system,” he said. The company had trouble last year with some of its stormwater clouding a nearby stream.

Sand mines underway in Chippewa County include: EOG Resources, with mines in the town of Howard and Cooks Valley; Preferred Sands, with a mine in Cooks Valley; Chippewa Sand Company, with a mine in the town of Cooks Valley; and Superior Silica Sands, with a mine in the town of Auburn.

There are four other sites where reclamation permits for sand mines have been granted by the county but no mine have been built.

According to a report by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, there are 67 active frac sand industrial sites for air monitoring in the state, and 82 inactive sites. There were 34 full inspections of frac sand sites as of Feb. 11 and 100 partial inspections.

Editor's Note: This article and photo caption has been changed to correct the location of the Chippewa Sand Company mine. It is in the town of Cooks Valley.

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