ISHPEMING — And the battle begins…
Marquette county residents showed up at a public meeting last night to voice their opposition to the re-issuance of a surface water discharge permit to the Eagle Mine-Humboldt Mill in Marquette County. ABC 10’s Danielle Davis attended the meeting and brings us both sides of the argument.
“Unless they are forced to do it they won’t to anything,” said a resident at last nights meeting. And others, one by one approached the podium to voice their complaints.
“It’s just an outrage. The economic and social benefits of having some of the last beautiful country in the whole area and watching it being drained has caused me sleepless nights. We have to come to meeting after meeting after meeting to defend what belongs to all of us, so some foreigner can enjoy the economic benefits of what our future generations will not,” said a concerned citizen opposing the permits.
Spearheading the meeting was the Department of Environment Quality. They answered any and all questions that they could but not all answers were readily available as they had to admit.
“We are having a public question and answer hearing so that we can learn the thoughts of the public to see if we have missed anything. You brought something up and we are going to have to check it. I know you expect us to have all the answers, but not tonight,” said a DEQ Representative.
The draft permit authorizes an increased loading of pollutants to the wetland next to the Middle Branch Escanaba River, which will lower the water quality with respect to certain parameters. But, there were some in favor.
“I am very supportive of Mr. Casey’s early actions in order to put the pipe for early discharge directly into the Middle Branch of the Escanaba and what that is going to do is it alleviates flooding on two parallel roads along county road FX and FY which have been historic problems to that wetland,” said 2nd District Marquette County Commissioner Joe Derocha. “It is my understanding that there may be some confusion to the permit application language. Historically they’ve been supportive of the 200 gallons a minute going into the wetland to sustain the wet land, and additional outflow that would be created by dispersing tailing would then go into the pipe.”
A petition was hand delivered from the Humboldt Township Board opposing the permit.
“They are not only going to put the water into the river, but there is another part where it is nothing but cattails and it is terrible. They are expanding every year and the water is not going through where it is suppose to be in the river, and we are all objecting to this,” said Marline Worth, Humboldt Township Board Member.
“I am very disappointed in the permit itself. There are loose ends everywhere and a lack of background information. No baseline data for the sights that are going to bear the brunt of the outfalls and the discharges to the river. There is no clear explanation of why their numbers for the initial calculations of ground water were so far off. It makes me not want to trust a lot of other data coming from Eagle Mine’s Environmental Impact Assessment.” said Kathleen Heideman, President, Save
The Wild U.P.
The increase discharge amount would increase from 0.82 to 1.4 million gallons per day, per pipe, so the total increase would be 2.8 million gallons a day.
If you missed last nights meeting, you have until Friday, January 16 to contact the DEQ, via phone or email.
You can call 517- 284- 5597 or send an email to Lama@Michigan.gov. Copies of the permit and other documents are available at www.deq.state.mi.us/owis, under ‘Permits on Public Notice’.