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Wisconsin County May Ban Blasting

The Ashland County, Wis., Board may vote on an ordinance banning the use of explosives if it disturbs asbestos in rock formations. That includes the proposed iron ore mine site in the Penokee Range, according to the Superior Telegram.

The Ashland County Board Chairman says they’re worried about asbestos and mesothelioma, a fatal lung cancer caused by airborne asbestos fibers. Recently reports surfaced by a scientist and Department of Natural Resources that asbestos fibers are in at least part of the ore body that Gogebic Taconite hopes to mine.

The DNR says they need more information before they know if that ore body is dangerous, while Northland College Geoscience Professor Tom Fitz calls the asbestos lethal.

Gogebic Taconite spokesman Bob Seitz said a county ordinance isn’t needed. He said there are protections already in place when a company mines an area that has asbestos deposits, including demonstrating the likelihood of running into it, and then demonstrating what they would do for safety precautions for the public and for workers.