City of Wabasha to vote on frac sand facility

Facility might be approved next week — or asked to complete environmental review
2012-12-14T00:00:00Z 2013-07-22T11:19:43Z City of Wabasha to vote on frac sand facilityBy Tesla Rodriquez | Winona Daily News

A proposed frac sand loading and storage facility in Wabasha could open as early as next week if the city approves.

The Wabasha City Council will decide at a special meeting Monday whether an environmental review should be done for Superior Sand System’s facility.

The council is considering the review because of a recent petition with 156 signatures submitted to the state’s Environmental Quality Board. Petitioners want the review in order to identify the facility’s potential impacts on traffic, health and safety issues, and other concerns.

If the council chooses not to order the review, the city’s planning commission on Tuesday will consider approving the facility’s conditional-use permit.

The planning commission has until Feb. 8 to vote on the permit but is expected to move more quickly, in part because company officials have expressed a desire to open the facility this month.

“They indicated they will start to lose quite a bit of money if they don’t start hauling by Dec. 20,” Wabasha City Planner Molly Patterson-Lundgren said.

The company could lose up to $40 million in secured contracts if it can’t open before that date, said Paul Van Eijl, a company representative and Buffalo County’s former zoning administrator, in a letter to the commission.

The commission initially held off on voting until a traffic impact study could be done to determine the effects of 400 daily truck trips, but now that the process has accelerated, the study would be done after the permit is approved.

That’s made some uncomfortable.

“I would rather have a study in my hand before making final recommendations,” Patterson-Lundgren said.

Project opponents have argued that the facility’s purpose and location aren’t a good fit for the city.

“The project has the potential to radically change the nature of the city of Wabasha and its quality of life,” Wabasha resident Craig Falkum wrote in a letter included with the petition.

Officials with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, located about a half-mile from the proposed facility, have two primary concerns: air quality and truck traffic.

“We will be watching this very carefully,” said Jenny Schlagenhaft, St. Elizabeth’s director of community relations and communications.

“We’ve certainly always been a leader in our community in regards to health,” she said. “If this frac sand operation impacts that, we’re certainly going to the table to do what we can to help protect our community.”

Permit sought to increase frac sand hauling

A conditional-use permit for another frac sand loading facility was submitted Wednesday in Wabasha.

Jim Roemer, owner of Roemer Transport, is asking to increase the number of truckloads of sand to his facility, located near the railroad tracks on the west end of town. Roemer hauls about 40 truckloads a day, and would like to increase it to about 150.

Wabasha City Planner Molly Patterson-Lundgren said the city might not have time to review the application until late this month or early next year.

Copyright 2015 Winona Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(6) Comments

  1. 350
    Report Abuse
    350 - December 16, 2012 3:25 pm
    Let's hope there are enough courageous council members who are willing to stand up to standard fare bullying from an industry used to getting its' way - no matter what they have to do. Parents will not raise their children in an area with a known airborne carcinogen. Chippewa County already lost one computer chip manufacturer - due to the inability to produce a good product in conjuction with airborne. What this means for Wabasha is that their future is one of a company town - dictated to by the frac sand industry -while citizens and businesses flee the toxic air.....or a small town that makes wise decisons and protects both its citizens and future. See the thing is....along with most other industry - will go tourism too. People will not travel to frac sand towns to bicycle, walk and enjoy the sites. It isn't just the airborne carcinogens, but the constant truck traffic and trains around the clock...that will transform Wabasha. It is a matter of conscience and character.
  2. bob olson
    Report Abuse
    bob olson - December 15, 2012 2:30 pm
    Wabasha businesses could help everyone in Wabasha, including themselves, by refusing to do any business with Roemer. He appears to be the source of the problem.
  3. easy
    Report Abuse
    easy - December 15, 2012 1:44 am
    Nor is it a U.S. company. They are from Alberta,(which is a hotbed for this right now). But they are doing lots of business in the U.S. And will do more as their railroad partnerships develop.

    I am pro business, we should all be. But, look where we live, in Paradise Valley. That's bigger. Don't make this to be the generation that screwed it up so a Canadian company with tentacles all over can make money.


  4. eagle rock
    Report Abuse
    eagle rock - December 14, 2012 8:08 am
    this letter from a desperate frac sand company is an attempt to threatened the community into submission .........based on the company losing money


    be careful.......remember the push for a monster prison as a money making machine
    Roemer just lost his quest for a seat on the city he could insure a vote for his frack sand hauling business to triple in size.......the citizens thwarted his plan ...thank god

    wabasha do you really want to become known as a frac sand capital......

    do you think that is going to increase your property
    do you think that it is going to increase your
    do you think it is going to increase your
    it will be a few jobs for a few people while many will lose their businesses

    and you can be guaranteed that mayo clinic will be exiting the relationship with the clinic

    this is serious business..........

  5. docTm
    Report Abuse
    docTm - December 14, 2012 8:06 am
    Sand company is threatening lawsuit if environmental study is done, as pettitioned by Wabasha citizens. The reason they are pushing the CUP now is that a new city council is coming in and it may tip the scales away from the Sand companies. The city attorney is buckling and recommending appeasement, much like Chamberlain gave out a CUP for Czechoslovakia. It will be a sad day for Wabasha. They can only pray that the problems at the oil and gas extraction end becomes enough to shut the industry down.
  6. Emil
    Report Abuse
    Emil - December 14, 2012 4:39 am
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