Winona, MN monitoring air quality along a truck route

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WINONA, Minn. (WEAU) -- Air quality monitors have been on top of the YMCA in Winona, Minnesota, since the end of December.

Assistant City Planner Carlos Espinosa said it’s along a truck route transporting silica sand that’s coming from Wisconsin.

The city lifted a moratorium in March 2013 banning new frac sand mines and processing facilities within city limits.

“At the end of our moratorium on silica sand the city council recognized there were still some questions about air quality,” said Espinosa.

The monitors are from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and now people can go to its website to see the air quality levels.

Biesanz Stone Company did have a frac sand mine, but when we called them they said they haven’t been mining since 2012.

In May 2013 David Nisbit was granted a conditional use permit from Winona County for a frac sand mine.

His contractor said frac sand mines provide jobs and boost the economy.

“We are constantly trying to do something that would better the environment. We’re not going to do something that’s going to hurt the environment,” said Tom Rowecamp.

Saturday, January 18 the Land Stewardship Project is holding a summit about frac sand mining.

Mike Kennedy with the Land Stewardship Project said frac sand mining is harmful.

“These health and safety issues should come before the profits of companies that just want to dig up the sand and haul it away. They’re not necessarily local Minnesota companies,” said Kennedy.

The summit is at 9:30 a.m. at the Tau Center.

Admission is $10.

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