(See Important Update Below)
At Michipicoten Bay (Wawa, Ontario), according to the Spring-Summer - 2003 Lake Superior Alliance Superior Vision newsletter, "Lands used formerly to store and ship ore and wastes for the now closed Algoma Ore Division mine and processing plant have been sold to the Carlo Companies, a U.S. contracting and roadbuilding conglomerate. Carlo has formed a local subsidiary, Superior Aggregates, whose proposal is to strip the 1,000 acre site of soil, vegetation and timber, and then drill, blast and crush the coastal rock into aggregate for shipment by freighter to Michigan for use in highway construction."
Citizens in Canada and the U.S. have been very concerned about this scheme. As Michigan residents, we deplore the idea that a Michigan company would blast the Lake Superior shoreline and haul away the rubble to simply use it in highway construction here. Besides the aesthetics and ethics issues, many questions about the environmental impact come to mind. For example, what toxic chemicals are already in the lands formerly used to store ore and wastes from a mining venture? The iron sintering plant at Wawa produced a large "fume kill"--sulfur dioxide, arsenic and other metals killed virtually everything over a fan-shaped area 12+ miles in length. We question what persistent toxic chemicals are in the rubble that will be blasted, ground, shipped, and distributed on highways. What will the effects be on the area's groundwater, streams, and Lake Superior? And then there are erosion impacts, dust and noise pollution, and even the physical danger in the estimated "maximum fly rock range" of 294 meters (this in an area of activity as close as 75 meters to Lake Superior).
According to the Winter-Spring - 2004 Lake Superior Alliance Superior Vision newsletter, "Though the site is designated as Great Lakes Heritage Coast and thus targeted for environmental protection and eco-tourism, this is not enough to protect it. The mine site is also bounded by the Michipicoten First Nation. Currently the area is not zoned for mining. The local municipality, the township of Michipicoten is proceeding with rezoning process, a process which seems to favor Superior Aggregates with its promise of 14 jobs."
The Lake Superior Waterkeeper and Waterkeeper President Robert F. Kennedy Jr. asked the Ontario Minister of Environment to designate this project as requiring an Environmental Assessment under Ontario's Environmental Assessment Act. The letter from the Lake Superior Waterkeeper stated: "As Waterkeepers, we believe that citizens have a right and obligation to participate in fair and transparent planning processes. In the instance of the trap rock quarry proposed at Michipicoten Bay, we believe that this fundamental right is being threatened. We do not believe that all the facts are being taken into consideration in the approval of this facility. Worse, we further suspect that certain key information is being withheld by the proponent, such that the community cannot clearly evaluate the full impact of the proposed facility."
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s letter stated: "The EAA [Environmental Assessment Act] was clearly intended to safeguard the responsible use and long-term sustainability of Ontario's natural resources, particularly with respect to undertakings such as this quarry, which pose serious local, national and international pollution threats that seem to stretch beyond the scope and purview of other municipal and provincial regulatory processes. The Act affords the citizens of Ontario, as well as international visitors and users of Ontario's Lake Superior coast, a thorough and transparent planning process."
More information is available on the website by Citizens Concerned for Michipicoten Bay (CCMB): www.ccmb.ca/
Thanks to all who helped!
The Citizens Concerned for Michipicoten Bay (CCMB) Board would like to thank everyone who shared our interest in protecting the integrity of the Lake Superior shoreline during the past seven years.
We were always very encouraged by the support (financial and otherwise) that we received from members of the public throughout the District of Algoma, the north shore of Lake Superior, and beyond.
We were not successful in having the quarry operation moved further back on the Superior Aggregates' property and away from the Lake Superior shoreline and certainly we are disappointed with that outcome.
However we know that we did our best and followed the democratic process open to citizens who wish to express their concerns regarding new industrial developments in environmentally sensitive and significant areas.
Now that the proposal has received approval, we look ahead to Superior Aggregates and the various levels of governments fulfilling their respective legal obligations and responsibilities during the construction and operation of the quarry.
During the past seven years CCMB was fortunate in working with highly qualified experts who gave us assistance and advice and who strongly believed in the protection of Lake Superior.
We appreciate the support we received from environmental organizations some of whom were, Environmental Defence, Great Lakes United, MiningWatch Canada, Northwatch, Ontario Nature, Sierra Club of Canada, Environment North, Gravel Watch Ontario and Lighthawk.
We would like to thank our major financial supporters some of whom were: The McLean Foundation, EJLB Foundation, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Freshwater Future, Wilderness Canoe Association, and HIVA Environmental.
We are most appreciative and we thank all of the organizations and individuals who supported our efforts and we thank those who have indicated continuing interest in future developments in Michipicoten Harbour.
Our pursuit in protecting the natural integrity and heritage of Michipicoten Bay will be ongoing.