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I attended the meeting Wednesday evening at Winona Middle School.

I am particularly concerned about particulate pollution, including silica in the air. I asked that state department representatives, using their expertise, suggest a monitoring plan that would, after the data was analyzed, enable them to give an opinion on the risks to adults and their children’s’ health.

The representative from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) ignored the intent of the question and detailed Best Management Practices. There was no reference to monitoring.

The representative from the Minnesota Department of health (MDH) basically said silica is dangerous. He could give a risk assessment if provided relevant data — but no one has nor is currently attempting to get appropriate data. This was more of a direct answer to my question but still did not give an idea of what a worthwhile monitoring effort would look like.

After the meeting, the person from the MDH stayed for some further discussion. Both agreed that a requirement for monitoring needed to come from the local level.

The MPCA representative volunteered that Scott County recently asked the MPCA for assistance in determining just what such an effort should entail. Their suggestions included upwind and downwind monitors and meteorological instruments for wind direction and speed in addition to ambient monitors strategically placed around the community.

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That is an indication of what an appropriate monitoring effort would look like. I would add two things. An effort should be made prior to facility operation to establish, using locally gathered data, appropriate sites for monitors and a baseline. Also, the data should be posted in real time on a website accessible to community members.

This kind of effort unfortunately requires the facility to be operating. It will also never happen unless paid for by the facility.

They have a responsibility to demonstrate their operation is not detrimental to the health of community members. This should be obvious.

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