FOIA ruling handed down in Marquette

A ruling has been handed down in a case involving multiple Freedom Of Information Act requests from Concerned Citizens of Big Bay and Save the Wild U.P. to the Northern Michigan Geological Repository Association.

Judge Thomas Solka presided over the case two weeks ago and now he has reached a decision to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint.

“We submitted a FOIA request to find out what it means when a private mining company, like Rio Tinto, can make tens of thousands of tax-deductible contributions to a not-for-profit corporation that was set up by state regulators. What are they getting in return?” asked Alexandra Thebert, the Executive Director of Save the Wild U.P. “We’re going full steam ahead on our call for a federal, Department of Justice, investigation. We have tried every avenue, at this point, to get this financial information and we have not been able to obtain. The Department of Justice can obtain it and they should. I hope they leave no stone unturned in finding out where this money is coming from and where it’s going.”

Judge Solka ruled that the Northern Michigan Geological Repository, which is responsible for analyzing the toxicity of core samples taken from Rio Tinto’s mines, was not a public entity at the time of the FOIA requests and is therefore exempt from any inquiries made by the public.

“The citizens of Michigan deserve to know what’s happening with this non-profit, and why the state can outsource a public service to a private entity and effectively obscure information from citizens. We need to know what’s in the ground. We need to know what’s being mined around here. It’s for the good of workers. It’s for the good of the environment. It’s also very important for tax payers to make sure that mining companies are actually doing what they say that they’ll do and that they won’t leave us footing the bill,” Thebert added.

The Superior Watershed Partnership recently found uranium in the water at the Eagle Mine site and the DEQ has since added uranium to the list for its Groundwater Discharge Permit.

We’ll have more on this story as it develops.

If you would like to sign Save the Wild U.P.’s petition you can head to their website: