WHITEHALL, WI -

Trempealeau Co. officials are putting the brakes on any new frac sand mining operations.

The County Board unanimously approved a temporary moratorium to frac sand mine permits for the next year starting in September.

Legal issues caused a lengthy debate and it was all done in front of the 70 people in attendance after a vote failed to go into closed session.

Right now, there are as many as 30 rumored applications for a permit and attorneys representing the county are concerned there could be a number of lawsuits.

But board members say they didn't want to hide anything from the public. "It's not a frac sand issue, it's an issue in regards to litigation that the county could face down the road. It's generally done in closed session so the county board members as you cast your vote, have a clear understanding of the legal risks and rights and remedies that are out there," said attorney Ronald Stadler.

County Board Supervisor Dick Miller said, "it's imperative that we only, when absolutely necessary, go into a secret or closed session where that information has to remain and cannot be shared with the public."

The chair of the Trempealeau County board says there are currently 27 permitted mines in the county and about 7 of them are operating right now. He believes this will give county officials some time to take a closer look at the concerns coming from opponents of frac sand mines.

"Look at the health and welfare of the community, the air, the noise controls, fumes, and the scenic beauty, and the water," said Trempealeau Co. Board Chairman Ernest Vold.

Supporters of frac sand mines say they bring jobs to areas in need.