I am posting this reply to the DEQ from Rusty Gates, President of the Anglers of the Au Sable, who is not a subscriber.
Sierra Club Forest Ecologist
The only reason DEQ had to appeal Judge Murphy's decision, was the keep a door open for a discharge to Kolke Creek. In the Judge's initial decision, he left that door open. We filed to correct and get closure.. .. judge closed the door, setting up a 21 day appeal period. DEQ choose to exercise that option. Far as we are concerned, any discharge to the headwaters of the Au Sable River, is not an option.
What we proved in court is that there were reasonable and prudent alternatives.... and that serious damage would result to the ecosystem of Kolke Creek if the discharge of 1.15 million gallons per day occurred. Enough chlorides in the mix to make beaver ponds, standing salt flats.... but still below the human contamination levels. It's unfortunate that a discharge of this type allows for twice the human contamination level.
Merit bought this problem from Shell. Merit is a large company. They buy existing fields, maybe at $30 per barrel prices.... and now see $75 per barrel profits. Their purchase price was reduced $13 Million dollars for 24 known contaminated sites. Hayes Twp 22 Central Production Facility, just one site, has had 32 known spills... going back many years. The contaminated plume is almost a mile long... heading into a residential neighborhood. "Receptor Wells", the term used in court..... were residential wells. Folks that are being told on a quarterly basis their drinking wells are contaminated.
The only alternative measures DEQ looked at were other streams.... and the distance they would have to run a pipeline. Frenchman's Creek...tributary to Manistee, and the Manistee River itself. They never considered deepwell injection or infiltration ponds, back into the aquifer. Kolke Creek was the closest and conveniently located stream.
Their science? DEQ, put in one trip on the property the discharge would receive. I believe they dropped a tennis ball at a culvert, and counted the seconds it took to exit the culvert. Pretty sure we put folks on the stand that said the discharge would be an increase in flow of over 1200 percent. There is no stream flow at the discharge point. It would create a new "Headwaters of the Au Sable"... courtesy of the Oil Industry.
If this water is as pure as Robert McCann would make it out to be...why isn't Ice Mountain up there trying to bottle it? But than again, his job is to really sell refrigerators to Eskimos .... He couldn't find Kolke Creek if he had a GPS way point.
Merit's own environment engineering firm has already applied for a new "CAP", on twelve acres just North of the Hayes Twp 22 site. Obviously DEQ in Lansing doesn't know what the hell is going on in the field. Merit is on top of this more than the state. They don't even need the forty acre site the DEQ appeal is supposedly all concerned about.
Residents in that residential neighborhood... they are waiting for their next water sample.
Anglers of the Au Sable