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Missouri and fracking

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Although the U.S. shale oil and gas drilling boom has largely bypassed Missouri, the energy industry is reportedly considering the state to mine for silica sand, used to prop open shale rock cracks during hydraulic fracturing.[1]

Silica for fracking

Energy companies say Missouri's sand is nearly pure silica, or quartz, which allows the grains to maintain their shape under the pressure thousands of feet below ground. The sand grains are also nearly spherical, allowing them to flow more easily through fractures. And the silica could be stored and transported along the Mississippi River.

According to E&E: "Missouri's sand comes from the St. Peter Sandstone, a layer of crumbly rock that extends from Minnesota to Arkansas. That same formation has helped drive a major frac sand boom in Wisconsin. At least 100 Midwestern sand mines rely on the sandstone.

"The major player in Missouri is Mississippi Sand LLC, a venture formed in 2008. The company has seen tremendous success with its quarry near Festus, Mo., and is looking to develop a new mine near Starved Rock State Park in Ottawa, Illinois.

"But that plan is facing a level of environmental opposition the company has not seen in Missouri. Environmental groups say such mines pose health risks, particularly for workers who might inhale silica. If inhaled, the material can lead to silicosis, an irreversible lung disease that has been linked to lung cancer."

Besides Mississippi Sand, other Missouri operators include Maryland-based U.S. Silica and Texas-based FTS International LLC.[2]

Reports

Resources

References

  1. "Mo. jumps into shale boom with frac sand mining," E&E, November 6, 2012.
  2. "Mo. jumps into shale boom with frac sand mining," E&E, November 6, 2012.

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