By: Duane Craig
“Environmentally safe as possible,” is how EOG Resources describes how it plans to proceed with the opening and operation of a sand mine outside Bulcher, Texas, in this report from TimesRecordNews in Wichita Falls, Texas. Residents in this area near the Oklahoma border however are a bit on edge about the whole deal. They’re concerned about their groundwater and air quality.
When the wind blows over sand mines, silica dust goes airborne and can end up in peoples’ lungs. Silica causes a lung disease known as silicosis, and some health agencies classify it as a carcinogen, according to this report in JSOnline. Others contend silica is always in the air and a fact of life on planet earth.
Each sand mine uses huge amounts of water to wash the sand. One mine site that has a high capacity well uses 200 million gallons of water a year, according to this report in Eau Claire Now, in Chippewa Valley, Wisconsin. Wisconsin is currently hosting a sand mining boom because it has ideal sand for fracking.
EOG wants the Texas sand for its fracking operations. But people living in Saint Jo and Forestburg are growing weary of contending with the oil and gas industry as they are already surrounded by its activities. Residents there recently successfully squelched a mud farm application. Other residents are concerned about health and safety issues. EOG was fined in Pennsylvania for cutting corners on fracking operations that resulted in a rain of explosive gas and fracking fluid, in this case lasting 16 hours.
Back in Texas, residents of northern Montague and Cooke counties may be wondering just how long EOG’s “environmentally safe as possible” is good for, or even if it’s good enough.