From Our ReadersIssue Date: February 6, 2020
A year ago a tailings dam in Brazil, which is exactly the same design that Aquila will be using, failed and collapsed and resulted in the death over 250 people. The sad part is that this wasn't the first time such a thing has happened in Brazil. It also happened in November of 2015, a tailings dam burst and killed 19 individuals. One would think the first time it happened, that the Country would take measures to make sure it doesn't happen again, but no, fast forward to January 2019 it happened again at another site. The mine is still in operation today and the mining company claimed that the structure provided inadequate drainage and couldn't handle the high water levels. It is easy for us to brush it off as if Brazil is an apathetic country that does not care about their people.
The problem is that right in our back yard they are planning on mining using the exact same design as Brazil. We all know that we have definite excessive water issues lately, the same issue that caused the collapse of the tailings dam in Brazil. There are no new latest greatest techniques that are going to be applied to the Back 40 like they want you to believe. It turns out that our country is just as apathetic as Brazil. No measure have been taken to stop this mine in its tracks to make sure that such an environmental disaster doesn't happen here.
There is one thing that has happened that should make us pay really close attention now. Brazil has charged Fabio Schvartsman, the former Chief Executive of the company, with homicide. Some of the other former employees that were released after the incident were named in the suit also. If Aquila has any type of scruples or common sense, they would look at this environmental disaster and say, no, this is not worth people's lives and ending up in prison for being responsible for such a devastating event. Any responsible person would know that this is not worth the risk. Our elected officials should take measures to assure our safety for our lives and our environment.
Do you want to know how you may make a difference? Look up the website for "Coalition to Save the Menominee River".
Menominee Indian Tribe origins, water quality tied to river
My name is Tom Boerner, I have been involved in two (2) contested cases hearings against permits issued to Aquila by EGLE and have just filed contested case petitions for two (2) more: Air Quality Permit and Amended Part 632 Permit.
In my lifetime I have witnessed atrocities committed against the Menominee Tribe as their burial mounds that cover the area of the mine site have all been violated by persons from the State of Michigan, including Northern Michigan University. Remains, including skeletons, were exhumed from burial mounds and put on display in the University museum. Aquila will never tell you this but a very large portion of where Aquila wants to put a mine is owned by the State of Michigan and is under the Michigan DNR. Anyone can still hunt, hike, explore and see nature on this state owned land - get out there and do it! Many of the raised garden beds, the furthest native American artifacts of this type in North America, have been plowed over in the past 100 years and thousands of years of Menominee Indian Tribes history has been wiped out. Now, what remains is under attack by persons who are not only willing to destroy the history of the area, but must hate Native Americans and First Persons so much that they want to wipe out the last surviving physical history of an entire people.
For the people who don't know this: The State of Michigan defends the actions of the Permit applicant. It is the Michigan tax-payer that provides " free of charge " lawyers from the Michigan Attorney General's office who have vigorously defended Aquila Resources. This happens even when persons within EGLE Water Resources Division who reviewed Aquila's permit application wrote in their "finding of fact and conclusion of law: "The project is not consistent with the permitting requirements of Part 303, Wetlands Protection and Aquila's permit may not be issued under this Part as Aquila's Part 303 Wetlands Permit application did not meet the standards under Part 303 law". Then add six (6) Aquila attorneys who have no regard for the facts " only that they win and Aquila gets to have a mine of 1080 acres only 147 feet from the Menominee River that WILL pollute forever. This is another Flint Water Crisis in the making. Remember what happened there? People are asking why and how the groundwater in Marinette and Menominee Counties got to be so polluted with toxic chemicals it can't be used? Remember; at some time in the past someone told our community what has happened would never be an issue. Where are those persons now?
The people who tell you there will be a mine are being misled; or worse - misleading you!
Letter to Editor:
Brumadinho, Brazil again? Why? It is still about water.
One year ago (with ൝st century mining technology"- exactly the type Aquila is proposing here) a mining tailings dam collapsed (like one does world-wide roughly every 8 months) dumping millions of tons of toxic sludge killing 270 people. In its path the surrounding forest, nearby towns & waters were destroyed.
Now Brumadinho's torrential downpours caused floods and landslides so bad that a state of emergency was called in over 100 cities and towns. Seven inches of rain fell there in one day! Flood waters & rushing rivers swept up cars, buildings and people. Madison, Milwaukee and Houston recently suffered floods, partially from worse storms, rising waters, and fewer wetlands to sop up flows. What is happening elsewhere can happen here too. Let's prevent this tragic, toxic destruction before Aquila starts it here.
No matter what the reason for climate change is, we cannot deny that our weather has become more extreme and irregular. January 2020's temperature data from Menominee's weather station reveals a high of 43 degrees and a low of -2 including 18 days at or above freezing. (https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/usa/menominee/historic?month=1&year=2020 ) How many U.P. Januaries do you remember with over half the days above freezing?
Lake Michigan's water level is from 4 to 27 inches higher this year than January 31, 2019. (www.lre.usace.army.mil)
There are no local benefits for the proposed mine. People here will not get miners jobs. Aquila's CEO on video said they will hire the unemployed miners from around Marquette County. There really is NO net gain when a mine operates. We all know what happens when men detached from their families and making money spend their hours off. The local increase in prostitution, human trafficking, drug use, and violence, with the associated added law enforcement costs, is well documented in these conditions. In fact, we'll be left with more problems, the toxic water and the clean-up costs. Copper sulfide mines are the largest source of taxpayer liability under the EPA's Superfund cleanup program (Nationwide Identification of Hardrock Mining Sites, Report 2004-P-00005, EPA Office of Inspector General, 3/31/2004). We don't want that here. Mining on the edge of our River is simply too dangerous.
We the people have the power to prevent this mine from operating. Ninety-three % of Menominee County voters are not in favor of this mine. We also have the support of at least: 23 Towns, Counties, Tribes, etc., and more than 20 Tribal, Environmental, Sportfishing, & Faith Organizations. Get involved, young or not, we can each do a very small thing to help. Let's work together to Save the Menominee River area.
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