Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Announces Judgment Requiring Trempealeau County Frac Sand Mining and Processing Facility to Pay $80,000 in Forfeitures, Fees, and Costs

Oct 20 2014
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Announces Judgment Requiring Trempealeau County Frac Sand Mining and Processing Facility to Pay $80,000 in Forfeitures, Fees, and Costs

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announces that his office has obtained a judgment against Alpine Sand, LLC requiring it to pay $80,000 in forfeitures, court costs, surcharges, and attorney fees for violations of a Wisconsin storm water pollution discharge permit at Alpine Sand's Trempealeau County hydraulic fracturing sand mining and processing facility.


According to the complaint, the Alpine Sand facility started operations in 2012.  The Department of Natural Resources granted the facility coverage under a storm water discharge permit based on the facility’s representation that the site would be internally drained, meaning that all storm water that contacts the mining, processing, or stockpile areas runs off to onsite seepage areas or ponds that retain the water within the boundaries of the facility. 


On October 9, 2012, DNR inspected the facility and determined that Alpine Sand had failed to implement best management practices needed to properly manage storm water on the site.  Then, sediment-laden storm water was observed discharging from the facility into a tributary to Newcomb Valley Creek on May 30, 2013; June 1, 2013; June 21, 2013; June 27, 2013; and October 7, 2013.  Newcomb Valley Creek is listed as an impaired water under DNR's Clean Water Act, Section 303(d), list for sediment/total suspended solids.  Sediment-laden discharges from the facility contributed to Newcomb Valley Creek’s impairment for sediment/total suspended solids.  As a result of the storm water discharges, DNR determined that the facility is externally drained, meaning that the storm water that contacts mining, processing, and stockpile areas runs off beyond the site property boundary.  Alpine Sand failed to prepare and submit to DNR a storm water pollution prevention plan in a timely manner after being notified that DNR classified the facility as externally drained.     


Sediment is the loose sand, clay, silt, and other soil that settles to the bottom of a water body.   In general, when sediment enters a water body, it smothers valuable aquatic breeding ground; damages fish gills; fills in stream channels, which increases the chance of flooding; contributes to the erosion of stream banks; decreases the recreational value of the water body; and can be costly for drinking water treatment plants to filter out. In addition, sediment often carries nutrients with it into streams and lakes, which can cause excessive algae blooms.


Assistant Attorney General Bradley J. Motl represented the State.  The stipulated judgment was approved by Trempealeau County Circuit Court Judge John A. Damon on October 14, 2014.


Copies of the Civil Complaint, Judgment, and the Stipulation and Order for Judgment are available here.