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Great Lakes Environmental Health Under Attack

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Republicans in Michigan are stripping away the environmental protections for our Great Lakes in the name of profit.


Soon if these deregulation's and forthcoming fracking disaster are not stopped our Great Lakes will die and look like the waters of third world countries.

Sen.Fred Upton is the biggest threat to our Great Lakes environmental health and future!


Sen.Fred Upton committee passes coal ash bill


By Ed Brayton




The House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, on Wednesday passed a bill that would forbid the EPA from regulating the handling of coal ash, a toxic by-product of coal power generation. The vote was 35-12.


In a press release, Earthjustice senior administrative counsel Lisa Evans said:


“We knew Representative McKinley would doggedly protect his coal interests by passing this bill but we’re appalled that so many of our elected leaders have no problem endangering their constituents.


“This bill basically is a giveaway to coal companies to escape requirements for proper management and cleanup of hazardous waste. For communities who suffer the effects of poisoned drinking water, unstable dams and leaching coal ash sites, this is a travesty.


“Coal ash poisons drinking water with arsenic, chromium, lead, mercury and other chemicals. Our House leaders should be ashamed that they have placed their constituents and their families in harm’s way.”


Upton supported the bill.





Michigan fracking regulations called inadequate


Water withdrawal, disposal key concerns


By Eartha Jane Melzer




While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency studies the impact of natural gas hydrofracking, states are left to regulate the practice on their own. In Michigan conservationists warn that current rules do not adequately protect the state’s enormous water resources from the controversial drilling technique.


Hydraulic fracturing, aka hydrofracking or fracking, involves blasting open deep underground shale deposits with water, sands and chemicals and harvesting the methane that is released. The process requires millions of gallons of water per well, involves large amounts of often secret chemicals, and generates waste that has been linked to groundwater contamination in other states.


Most of the northern part of Michigan sits over two shale formations that are being explored by natural gas companies. Though only a few wells have been fracked so far, companies have bought up the mineral rights to hundreds of thousands of acres of land.


In response to public concerns about the potential impact of a fracking boom, in May the state Dept. of Environmental Quality announced new guidelines for fracking. Companies are now required to use the state’s automated Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT) to document and assess the impact of their withdrawals and they must post the Material Safety Data Sheets of their chemical products they use online.


State environmental groups say these measures don’t provide sufficient protection. One of their big concerns is the effect of using so much water in the process and they say use of the state’s computerized withdrawal assessment tool will not ensure that resource-damaging withdrawals don’t happen.


“For a broad, sweeping overview the assessment tool is a good place to start, but the structure of the assessment tool is based upon assumptions about the connection between groundwater withdrawals and the flows and levels of streams that are not site-specific,” said Traverse City-based water law expert Jim Olson. “It does not represent an accurate assessment of what will happen.”


The tool is based on U.S. Geological Survey data that does not include measurements of some tributary streams and headwaters, Olson said, and could miss impacts to these bodies.


Michigan should require site-specific review and hydrological impact studies for all fracking related water withdrawals, Olson said, and until the state has a system to do this there should be a moratorium on fracking.


Under state law large scale water users are required to register their withdrawals with the database that supports the water withdrawal assessment tool, but oil and gas companies were given an exemption. Though the new state policy required them to use the tool to document planned water use, they are not required to register their withdrawals, no matter the size.


Critics say this loophole could undermine the accuracy of the water withdrawal assessment tool for all users.


The exemption for oil and gas companies should be stopped, said Susan Harley of Michigan Clean Water Action.


“It seems do much simpler to treat these big water users the same as other big users,” she said.


Harely said that she is also concerned that the cuts-plagued DEQ may not have adequate resources to address any water use conflicts that come to light though the use of the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool.


Concerns about the potential impact of fracking spansthe political spectrum in northern Michigan, said Grenetta Tomassey of the Petoskey-based Tip of Mitt Watershed Council.


“Water up north is crucial,” she said. “It is our lifestyle. People save their whole lives and have the goal of retiring next to these waters.”


DEQ’s requirement that companies post MSDS sheets is not protective, Tomassey said, becasuse the rule only applies to “reportable amounts of hazardous chemicals.”


A reportable amount is 10,000 pounds, she said, and “hazardous” is a political definition that does not encompass all harmful chemicals. She also noted that MSDS sheets do not list all the chemical components in a product.


Tomassey said that chemical disclosure is a public safety issue that is a top priority for the many groups concerned about fracking.


People need to know what chemicals are going to be used so they do baseline testing before fracking begins, otherwise it could be impossible to prove contamination from drilling.


Some are concerned that Michigan may not provide adequate oversight for the disposal of fracking waste.


Michigan is a destination for solid waste from elsewhere and some worry that the state, with its hundreds of disposal wells, could become a regional repository for fracking waste.


“As far as we know, Michigan well operators are not accepting shipments from out-of-state gas production operations,” said DEQ spokesman Brad Wurfel.


LuAnne Kozma of Don’t Frack Michigan said that she is not reassured.


“Shouldn’t they know one way or the other?” she said.


“Michigan should be monitoring this closely,” Kozma said, “with so much at stake with disposal of frack wastes in other states, and the new revelation that Pennsylvania’s wastes are being disposed of in Ohio injection wells. We have so many injection wells in Michigan. It begs the questions, just what is being dumped into these sites, and where is it all coming from?”



Heavy metals detected in Kalamazoo river oil spill area


Heavy tar sands oil flowing on river bottom


By Todd A. Heywood


Levels of heavy metals have increased in water samples being conducted along the Kalamazoo River and Talmadge Creek nearly a year after an oil pipeline ruptured in the area spewing an estimated one million gallons of oil into the waterways.


Enbridge Energy Partners admitted in August of last year that the Lakehead Pipeline 6B was filled with a thick oil extract known as tar sands oil. The oil is found in hardened forms, and is removed from the ground by injecting steam into the ground to melt the oil. The oil then is mixed with chemicals to thin it out in order to pump it through pipelines. Tar sands oil contain much higher levels of heavy metals than conventional crude.


In late August, 2010 EPA officials confirmed water samples were producing slight detection of both mercury and nickel — common heavy metal contaminates of tar sands oil. EPA said then the levels were nothing to be concerned about.


On Tuesday, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced it had been detecting several heavy metals and other contaminates at levels above what are considered safe.


“What we do see are elevated levels in areas of contamination that exceed some of the state’s criteria for groundwater and surface water criteria,” said a MDEQ official whose name was not clear in a recording of the press call with federal and state officials updating about the oil spill recovery work.


The official noted the department was continuing to monitor for several heavy metals including mercury and nickel.


“Those compounds were all found in the original crude oil that was released, which is why we’re monitoring for them,” he said.


Mark Durno, the EPA’s deputy on-scene incident commander, said officials had not considered heavy metal testing until last summer when Michigan Messenger made inquiries related to the heavy metal contamination of tar sands oils.


“We had this exact same question back in August of last year. So we, at the reporters’ request, did some background checks into the actual oil that was released.” said Durno. “We collected analytical samples of the oil that was released to see what metals were present and compared it with what we were seeing in the sediment at the time and in the water column at the time. And we did see some low levels of mercury and nickel — which is what we expected to see, actually.”


A report from the MDEQ on testing and other activities from May, 2011 indicated some heavy metal contamination.


The heavy metal contamination is part of the character of the tar sands oil, but it is not the only issue the thick oil has caused for the cleanup.


“After a comprehensive assessment this past spring, we’ve identified approximately 200 acres contaminated with submerged oil that will require further clean up,” said Susan Hedman, EPA Region 5 administrator. “Capturing and cleaning up this heavy oil is a unique challenge. No one at the EPA can remember dealing with this much submerged oil in a river.”


Durno indicated that much of the submerged oil was moving along the river bottom, and collecting at certain points along the river including just above the Ceresco Dam, as well as at the mouth of Morrow Lake. A photograph from earlier this month of Morrow Lake, which officials had originally felt they had protected from contamination, shows a large swath of the tell-tale rainbow slick on the surface of the water to indicate oil.


In early November, Messenger accompanied former oil spill cleanup worker John Bolenbaugh as he showed location after location of submerged oil in the river. This included a lilypad area above the dam.


“The footprint of the oil was bigger than we anticipated to see,” said Durno. He indicated that the tar sand oil had created a unique situation wherein clean up efforts required both traditional oil spill techniques, but also took on characteristics of “a tar like spill.”


Eartha Melzer contributed to this report



Judge blocks class action suit against Dow Chemical


Cites new U.S. Supreme Court ruling


By Eartha Jane Melzer |


A Saginaw County judge ruled this week that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision means that property owners in the dioxin-contaminated Tittabawasee floodplain cannot sue Dow Chemical for damages in a class action.


Operations at Dow’s Midland plant have spread dioxin — a highly toxic and cancer-causing byproduct of the chemical manufacturing process — and other chemicals, through the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers and into Lake Huron. Flooding of the rivers downstream from Dow has deposited dioxin-laden sediments on properties in the floodplain.


Sampling of floodplain properties has revealed dioxin contamination at levels thousands of times higher than allowed by Michigan and prompted state health officials to warned residents to keep children from playing in dirt near their homes, to wear masks while mowing their lawns, to avoid eating fish and livestock raised in the floodplain and to take other precautions.


Since 2003 a group of about 150 Tittabawassee property owners have been trying to sue Dow as a group on behalf of the more than 2,000 people with property in the floodplain.


The plaintiffs claim that they are not able to fully use their properties because of the contamination and that their properties have lost value. Dow has acknowledged that the dioxin contamination came from its operations but insists that it is not harmful to residents.


In the battle over certification of class status Dow has argued that because the level of pollution on the contaminated parcels varies, the property owners should not be treated as a group.


In 2005 Saginaw County Judge Leopold Borello approved class action status for this lawsuit, but Dow appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court.


In 2009 that court established new guidelines for certification of class status and ordered Borello to reevaulate his certification in view of the new standards.


Borello, who had retired, went back to work to hear arguments on the matter.


In an opinion released Tuesday Borello reversed his earlier approval of class status for the group.


He said that the case met the Michigan guidelines for class standards but that the recent U.S. Supreme Court case Wal-Mart v. Dukes has created a new rules for what a group must have in common with one another in order to be considered a class.


In a 5-4 decision last month the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that 1.5 million former and current Wal-Mart employees could not sue the company as a class for discrimination in compensation and promotions because they could not show that they were victims of one single discriminatory policy.


Writing for the court’s conservative majority Justice Antonin Scalia said that Wal-Mart’s decentralized structure meant that the case involved millions of employment decisions and the women failed to show “some glue holding the alleged reasons for all those decisions together.”


Borello said that the Wal-Mart decision forced him to reverse his order granting class certification to the Tittabawassee floodplain residents.


“Even assuming that defendant negligently released dioxin and that it contaminated the soil in plaintiffs’ properties,” he wrote, “whether and how the individual plaintiffs were injured involves highly individualized factual inquiries regarding issues such as the level and type of dioxin contamination in the specific properties, the different remediation needs and different stages for different properties, and the fact that some of the properties have been sold.”


Plaintiffs’ attorney Teresa Woody said that her legal team is still reviewing Borello’s order.


“It’s our impression that there is an error of law in the order,” she said. “We think that if the state has its own certification rules then the Dukes case does not apply.”


Woody said she intends to continue to pursue Dow for damages regardless of whether the claims go forward as a class or as many individual claims.


“Dow intends to continue to vigorously defend the case if plaintiffs choose to appeal this decision or if the case moves forward with individual plaintiffs,” the company said in a statement.

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The chinese have been draining the aquafurs here in michigan for years . Thanks engler.




NESTLE actually, but none the less. If the WORLD doesn't stand up to mass polluters and thief's of the WORLDS fresh drinking water, we'll be defending our great lakes with an armed military encampment.


A beautiful woman who is pleasing to men is good only for frightening fish when she falls into the water.

- Zen proverb







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  • 2 weeks later...

Some people seem to think that we have solid environmental regulation here, but it's not true at all. The DEQ has a staff of SIX PEOPLE last time I checked. There are tens of thousands of toxic abandoned industrial and mining sites in our state which haven't been cleaned up and are leaking and leeching poisons into groundwater. The nickel deposits that Kennecott wants to mine in the UP (sulfide mining, always leaves a mess, there's rivers in California that literally run with highly concentrated sulfuric acid because of this) are worth billions but the deposit they had to pay for any damages that may ensue was something like 2 million dollars (not even CLOSE to the cost of cleanup - also, "cleanup" means more "containment" than "cleanup," you really can't "cleanup" the messes they make). All while offering us what, a dozen or two local jobs that'd pay 10-15 an hour for one to two years? Thanks but no thanks, take your sorry ass3s back to England.

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