Buffalo County Denies Permit for Frac Sand Plant Near School


The Buffalo County’s Board of Adjustments has denied a permit that would have let the Glacial Sands company build a frac sand processing plant next to a K-12 school. Opponents said they feared for students’ safety, while supporters touted dozens of high paying jobs.

Glacier Sands is looking to build a frac sand drying and rail loading facility in Fountain City. It would operate 24/7 and would process 500 dump truck loads a day. The dry plant itself wouldn’t be unique, but its proximity to the Cochrane-Fountain City school is raising concern. Just 2,000 feet would separate the properties. Fountain City resident Gary Brown says that’s too close: “Why in the world would it be across the street from a K-12 school? It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Glacier Sands picked the site because it’s near a rail line.

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Brown says he’s worried that students will be breathing silica dust from the plant, which is a known carcinogen and can cause irreparable lung damage. Others are concerned about the heavy truck traffic, which could reach 1,000 trips per day.

Glacier Sands spokesman Wayne Steinmetz says the facility will work to ensure that little dust escapes and that truck drivers are safe. “We, Glacier Sands, want to do the right thing in regards to health and safety of not only students but also the whole community and citizens of Buffalo County.”

Cory Teigen of Mondovi supports the sand plant and says if it wasn’t safe, state and local governments wouldn’t allow it. On top of that, he says, Buffalo County needs jobs. “I’m a local plumber looking for work. Everybody’s going to need a place to live that works here, everybody needs something done. I’m just hoping that it works.”

Glacier Sands plans to build three frac sand mines in the county, which will feed raw material to the processing facility.