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Wisconsin DNR Concerned About Arsenic Levels

According to WQOW, there are new health concerns in Chippewa County, Wis., after tests at a bankrupt frac sand mine revealed high arsenic levels. Last month, the DNR was called to review a pond cleanup plan at the Superior Silica Sands mine near New Auburn, Wis.

The tests revealed that mud samples from the ponds had arsenic levels seven times higher than state safety levels. Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal that's listed as a carcinogen by the EPA.

"Has that material impacted groundwater? That's the question we're asking. We don't know if it has impacted groundwater," said Dave Rozeboom, regional DNR remediation and redevelopment program manager. "Of course our concern is the potential for impacts to drinking water, private wells in the area. If the site investigation leads us off the facility, then they would begin an investigation of those potential impacts as well."

Rozeboom said if contamination is found off-site, then Superior Silica would need to find the extent of the impact before cleanup can begin.

Chippewa County alleges Superior Silica has violated the law by falling $1.6 million short on funding for reclamation bonds, which are required by local governments to reclaim a mine in the event the site owner can't.