The April 2 article (URL: http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=11230665&BRD=2289&PAG=461&dept_id=472542&rfi=8) in the Midland Daily News
about Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s visit last week to the Velsicol Chemical Superfund Site in St. Louis, Michigan, written by Cheryl Wade, was right on the mark. What will the child in the photo see 30 years from now? In 1974, 30 years ago, the fish consumption ban was first placed on the Pine River. The fish-consumption ban is still in place today, and likely will need to remain for many generations into the future, if not forever.
There is indeed a long way to go until the Site is remedied – again. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the United States Environmental Protection Agency are still investigating the extent and nature of contamination at the Site. Locals are glad the agencies are taking the extra time to gather the relevant data that will support whatever remedy is ultimately chosen for the Site. However, all the time spent on investigation WILL NOT provide what will be the ultimate determining factor in what the remedy will be for the Site – it WILL NOT increase the money in the Superfund. The USEPA will ultimately choose the LEAST EXPENSIVE remedy, because there isn’t enough money in the Superfund to pay to “clean up” this Site. The price tag for a real clean up will be upwards of $200 Million. Unless and until the Superfund Tax on polluting industries is reauthorized, tax payers will forever foot the bill for cleanups – and that means the Superfund will remain grossly underfunded – and THAT means that contaminated sites will NEVER be cleaned up again, because it is just too expensive. That means that corporations will forever get away with contaminating a community and then running away. That is a tragedy for this Site and this community, because this is the second time that this Site has required remediation. The first time was “remedied” with a containment system that was put into place in 1986, and it failed miserably - the Site today continues to leak DDT and other toxic contaminants into the Pine River, and continues to be a threat to the community, and continues to be a source of DDT to downstream communities and to Lake Huron. (EPA laughably and sadly still lists the Site as “construction complete” http://www.epa.gov/R5Super/npl/michigan/MID000722439.htm and even states “The Pine River contamination was addressed by the State of Michigan with a no consumption advisory for all species of fish. The fish advisory continues to remain in effect.” )
The City of St. Louis is hosting a public meeting at 6:00PM on April 8 at the Gratiot Community Senior Center to present and discuss the City’s Reuse Planning Project, which the Reuse committee has been working on since last summer to provide a vision for future reuse of the Superfund Site.
What is the vision of the community for the reuse of this Site? Does that vision also account for the tombstone marker that warns of toxic chemical contamination that will likely remain forever in place? See the slideshow that features a photo of the tombstone at http://www.sierraclub.org/watersentinels/
See http://pineriver.alma.edu/ for more about this Superfund Site.
Water Sentinels Project Director
Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter
Water Sentinels Project Director
Mackinac Chapter Sierra Club
"Speak out - even if your voice shakes."