The fracking industry involves much more than drilling. For the past three years, I’ve covered the controversial oil and gas drilling practice for Truthout. Over the past week, I visited Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio to learn more about the challenges faced by those who live where the fracking process begins and ends – in sand mines and waste dumps. In Cooks Valley, Wisconsin, I interviewed two small farmers who once counted on each other for friendship and support. The mining boom caused by the fracking industry’s demand for silica sand — sand that has been linked to cancer among workers — has divided residents. Small farmers who have lived for years in the peace and quiet of the country now watch hundreds of trucks roll past their houses every day as the bluffs are blasted down to giant piles of sand. Some have banded together in town halls to regulate the mines, while others have cashed in selling and leasing their land. This breached the bond between these two neighboring farmers and they are no longer on speaking terms. On the Ohio River, I learned how the state has become a dumping ground for wastewater produced by the fracking industry, trucked in from Pennsylvania and other states, and contaminated with hazardous chemicals and radiation.