You could bookmark this page and make it your information center, the place you visit regularly to stay caught up on environmental issues.
Quick summaries of environmental news items we’ve come across lately
Concerned businesses leaders have created a new alliance in the battle to shut down Enbridge Line 5. (January 11)
Bell’s Brewery of Comstock, Michigan, and other businesses from Mackinac to Chicago have formed the Great Lakes Business Network. Their sole purpose is to eliminate the possibility of another pipeline rupture that would be worse than what still stands as the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history, the Enbridge pipeline break that devastated the Kalamazoo river in 2010. Larry Bell, founder and CEO of Bell’s Brewery, told MLive that “Enbridge’s oil disaster really hit home for me. It was absolutely devastating for our community. I pledged to do all I can to not let that happen anywhere else in Michigan.” The alliance includes business leaders “who believe that the risks posed by Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac are greater than the benefits.”
Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewas denies renewal of Enbridge Line 5 Grant of Easement. (January 5)
A press release from the Bad River Tribal Council announced that the tribe has decided not to renew the agreement that allows Enbridge Line 5 to cross its tribal land. The tribe calls for decommissioning and removing the pipeline. This affects a stretch of Line 5 in northern Wisconsin, about 300 miles west of where the worrisome 64-year-old pipeline threatens the Straits of Mackinac. The Oil and Water Don’t Mix campaign said the decision “sends a powerful message to Michigan officials.” Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Executive Committee Chair David Holtz said:
Michigan’s Great Lakes way of life is threatened every day by these deteriorating Line 5 pipelines. Governor Snyder should show the same leadership as the Bad River Band Tribal Council, listen to other tribal voices here in Michigan, and stop the flow of oil through the Straits of Mackinac.
Problems reported at DC Cook nuclear plant near Bridgman, Berrien County, Michigan. (December 23, December 27, January 4)
“Emergency diesel generators temporarily inoperable” at Donald C. Cook nuclear plant, says an MLive report. Workers discovered the problem Thursday, December 22, during a scheduled refueling shutdown. “Cook’s report is considered non-emergency, and action is required to reduce the risk and consequences in the case of an accident occurring,” according to MLive.
A clarification came to us by email from Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear. Kamps explained that in the event of a local power power outage, the emergency generators “are the last line of defense to keep cooling and safety systems running, to prevent a meltdown.”
This issue is unrelated to last June’s Greenpeace report that Cook is among several U.S. nuclear plants using components and equipment that may not meet NRC specifications.
On December 27, the St. Joseph-Benton Harbor edition of The Herald Palladium reported that the restart from September’s refueling shutdown at Cook’s Unit 2 had already been delayed by several other maintenance issues before the backup generator problem was discovered. On January 4, The Herald Palladium reported that Unit 2 is back in operation.
Four more officials charged as Schuette’s Flint water investigation continues. (December 20, December 21)
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced charges against four more officials in his investigation of the Flint water debacle. According to NBC News, this makes thirteen state and local officials who face criminal charges.
Update, December 21: Governor Rick Snyder told the Detroit Free Press that he has “no reason to be concerned” that he will face charges.
For daily updates follow Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s Flint Water Disaster page.
Reuters investigation: Poisoned water problem is much bigger than Flint. (December 19)
Blood test surveys show that Flint’s problem is a national problem. “Lead testing results across the country found almost 3,000 areas with poisoning rates far higher than in the tainted Michigan city. Yet many of these lead hotspots are receiving little attention or funding,” says this investigative report from Reuters.
Fifteen-year-old plan for Niles, Michigan, power plant resurfaces. (October 8, December 16)
Illinois-based Indeck Energy has revived a plan to build a new natural gas power plant in the Niles Industrial Park. A South Bend Tribune report says Indeck promises to add $10 million to the local tax base. Local residents “were among the most vocal opponents speaking out against the plant” 15 years ago, says the report. Indeck brags that the 1000-megawatt plant will produce “50%-90% fewer emissions than traditional coal-fired plants.” Indeck’s website neglects to compare its proposed plant’s air pollution to what a 1000-megawatt wind farm or solar array would produce.
Update, December 16: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing with residents of the Niles area on December 14. Leader Publications, publisher of the Niles Daily Star, reported that residents expressed concerns that “pollutants could impact farmers, use water resources, emit unwanted noise and limit other business operations from setting up shop in the area.”
Toxic dioxane threatens Ann Arbor’s water supply. (November 22)
Thirty years of ineffective measures on the part of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is leading to another Michigan water crisis, this time in Ann Arbor area. From the Detroit Free Press:
The Ann Arbor area’s looming, spreading, toxic groundwater plume, a legacy of industrial contamination, should be taken away from Michigan Department of Environmental Quality oversight and become a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site, according to the leaders of two contaminated townships.
Ann Arbor Charter Township, Scio Township and the Sierra Club’s Huron Valley Group jointly filed a petition Monday requesting that the EPA conduct a preliminary assessment regarding whether the Gelman Sciences Inc. site should become a Superfund site, the federal program often utilized to clean up the nation’s worst, most complicated polluted areas.