Tuesday, June 12, 2018

DNR says Trempealeau mine water spill tests OK, w/ one metallic exception

I had posted earlier today an item (text at the bottom, below), about the May 21st sand mine water spill in Trempealeau County, and said I'd ask the DNR for any water testing updates. Here is the response:
On Jun 12, 2018, at 3:19 PM, Dick, James F - DNR <James.Dick@wisconsin.gov> wrote:
A second round of surface water test results are in from samples taken 5/23/2018-two days after the pond breech event at the Hi Crush sand mine.

At the *Poker/Pocker Coulee sample site adjacent to breeched pond, the concentrations of several metals, turbidity and suspended solids are much lower than shown in the 5/21/2018 same day sample. 

While concentration levels were still higher than those found in the portion of the creek not impacted by the spill, none of the levels, with one exception, exceeded the toxicity criteria in ch. NR 105. 

The total recoverable copper result at that location did exceed the criteria in ch. NR 105. Our analysis shows, however, that much of the copper was attached to the suspended solids and not dissolved in the water where it could affect aquatic life. Dissolved copper was not detected in the sample.

Samples were also collected at multiple sites on the Trempealeau River with an additional sample collected on the Mississippi River near Lock & Dam 6 in Trempealeau. There were no exceedances of ch. NR 105 water quality criteria in those samples.

Additional surface water samples have been taken from the Poker/Pocker Coulee location and sent to the State Lab of Hygiene. The company has taken water and sediment samples but you would have to contact the company for results and the methodology used to gather those samples.

Any public health questions should be directed to the health agencies involved.

*Locals have been telling us the name of the creek is Poker Coulee but there is signage around that says Pocker.
Blog post text:

You may remember that a sand mine retention pond was breached on May 21st in Trempealeau County; 10 million gallons of orange-colored water and contaminants were released into waterways and on downstream land.

Wisconsin officials have found elevated levels of toxic heavy metals near a frac sand mine spill that sent millions of gallons of sludge into a Trempealeau River tributary.

Spill video, here.

The most-recent news report on the spill I can find is dated Thursday, June 7th; it describes the situation and water tests to that point

The tests show lead concentrations of more than 10 times allowable levels in water sampled near where the spill entered Pocker Creek, which runs into the Trempealeau River. 
Aluminum was measured at more than 1,000 times the limit. 
There also were high levels of beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, magnesium, nickel and other contaminants; however, samples taken from the Trempealeau River show concentrations that meet surface water standards, said DNR spokesman Jim Dick...
Dick said dissolved oxygen levels in both Pocker Coulee and the Trempealeau River were ”above the level needed to sustain aquatic life...,”[on] Monday the DNR said initial tests showed no signs of “immediate toxicity.”
Because Dick also said that more samples would be taken, I have asked if there are any updates  available.

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