Council to address sand moratorium expansionRed Wing City Council members will have their first chance Monday to vote on a proposal to amend the city’s silica sand mining moratorium.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing City Council members will have their first chance Monday to vote on a proposal to amend the city’s silica sand mining moratorium.
The change would add loading, unloading, storing, warehousing, stockpiling and processing of silica/frac sand to the list of items prohibited during the moratorium.
Council members started exploring the amendment when the Port Authority said it had been approached about loading unprocessed sand from Wisconsin mines onto barges at the Little River bulkhead near the Xcel Energy steam plant.
Since then, the city and Port have been looking into whether this operation would be allowed under current rules and leases. There are two separate leases involving the bulkhead that address the issue differently.
Shari Chorney, interim director of the Port Authority, said they are still awaiting a decision from Xcel on whether it would allow the activity. She updated members of the Port Authority Board, Harbor Commission and City Council during a workshop Thursday evening.
Council member Dean Hove said he is very concerned about silica dust and its dangers.
“My big point here is we need to look at the risk factors,” he said. “We just don’t know enough about this stuff.”
Council member Peggy Rehder said all the questions surrounding the issue exemplify the need for the moratorium expansion so they can get the answers.
“Before any decisions are made we need to make sure we’ve done our due diligence,” she said.
Rehder emphasized the situation simply pointed out a hole in the moratorium, and the city study group is already looking into transportation issues.
“It’s just for five months. And it can’t be extended,” Council member Lisa Bayley said of the moratorium.
Bayley said the likely result of the study after the moratorium ends in October would not be a permanent ban, but rather safety regulations to make sure the sand is being handled properly.
There were some concerns raised Thursday over whether the ban would unintentionally hurt other sand operations.
“Silica is in all sand,” Port member Scott Adkisson said.
But Planning Director Brian Peterson said the effect would be pretty clearly limited to frac sand.
Council member Mike Schultz, also on the Port Board, said storage at the site is not the intent, even though it would be included in the moratorium under the amendment.
During Monday’s City Council meeting, there also will be a public hearing before the vote. Amending the moratorium requires two readings.
During Thursday’s workshop, the Port, City Council and Harbor Commission members also discussed the marina lease. A committee has been formed to explore options for the site and develop a plan, Harbor Commission chair Denny Tebbe said.