The small, rural town of Wedron, Illinois has become home to a silica mine owned by Fairmount Santrol. Fairmount Santrol owns eight mines, and the Wedron mine is 1,992 acres, with most of it being open and regularly blasted. Residents near the mine are claiming health issues due to the increased ambient air pollution, noise, truck traffic, and diminishing water resources.
Silica sand is growing in demand because it is ideal for the oil and gas hydraulic fracking boom that is spreading across the country. A hydraulic fracturing job on one well can require a few thousand tons of sand. This sand is used to prop open the fractures made in the rock, allowing petroleum to flow out of the rock and into the well. Because of its uniform, spherical shape, durability, and grain size, silica sand is the most used proppant by the petroleum industry.
However, the mining of this sand can cause environmental issues and health concerns, as is the case in Wedron. The EPA performed a year-long study on the well due to the complaints and found the well to be within the regulatory standards. Locals must now turn to their state’s EPA or the County to inquire whether authorities exist to address their concerns.
Silica is considered a carcinogenic and can permeate lungs, so it is important to be sure the environment you’re living in is safe.
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