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Local organization files lawsuit to stop Wisconsin silica fracking sand mine

A county organization in Wisconsin has filed a lawsuit to stop a proposed fracking sand mine from being built in the state. The lawsuit, filed by the Crawford County Stewardship Project, alleges that a conflict of interest exists in the way plans for the mine were approved. The lawsuit further claims members of the Bridgeport city planning commission that approved plans for the mine have relatives who work for the mine’s operator, the Pattison Sand Company.

Although the Bridgeport fracking sand mine would bring new jobs to the area, concerns have also been raised about the effects that the mine would have on the local environment. Critics say that the high volume of dust created by the mine could lead to the contamination of the local groundwater supply. Others have voiced concerns about the possible health effects of the mine.

Inhaling airborne silica sand has been known to cause silicosis, scarring of the lungs caused by the presence of silica. Exposure to silica dust has also been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer and other diseases, including tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), kidney disease, and autoimmune disease.

As the practice of hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—has become widespread over recent years, the demand for silica sand to use in the fracking process has become more pronounced, leading to the opening of hundreds of mines like the one proposed in Wisconsin. However, it may take years before the health effects of these mines on workers and residents who live nearby are fully know.