- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 23, 2016

ELKADER, Iowa (AP) - Clayton County supervisors have given initial approval to the expansion of a sand mining operation.

The board unanimously voted Monday to rezone 746 acres near Clayton for heavy industrial use. The rezoning requires at least one more reading and affirmative board vote to take effect.

The board imposed five restrictions on Pattison Sand Co., including that the company would be responsible for any water well damage that could be attributed to the mining and that the company implement a well-monitoring program and well-protection agreement.

A county study committee had recommended 17 restrictions, according to the Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/2bz5aCk ).

Silica sand is used by oil and gas drillers for hydraulic fracturing.

Pattison officials have said the expansion of the sand mining operation is needed to help with long-term planning and to keep up with competitors. The company’s underground mine reserves in the county could be increased sevenfold.

Some residents have expressed concern over the mining operation’s expansion impact on the environment and public health.

“The environmental degradation and strife that this rezoning would cause is not worth the short-term and short-sighted gains,” McGregor resident Harry Walk said during Monday’s hearing.

Pattison officials said that studies by regulatory agencies have found that the company’s operations pose a low-level public health risk.

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