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News Release - For Immediate Release - Great Lakes Water Quality Hearing



Press Advisory:

Citizen Hearings to Protect the Great Lakes and Lake Superior
Water Quality.

Your help is needed to protect the Great Lakes! Please attend
this hearing!

Saturday, September 19th

10:00am - 1:00pm

Fitgers Inn, 3rd Floor
600 Superior Street
Duluth, Minnesota

This will be the only hearing for the western portion of Lake Superior.
There will be 10 binational hearings held throughout the Great Lakes to
gather testimony in support of reauthorizing the Great Lakes Water Quality
Agreement. The GLWQA was sign in 1972 between the United States and Canada.
The GLWQA is the strongest tool citizens have to promote clean up of the
Lakes and to protect human health.

A distinguised panel of peers will listen to testimony. Confirmed
panelists include: Minnesota State Representative, Willard Munger;
Wisconsin State Representative Frank Boyle; Ed Michaels, Great Lakes United
board member, member of Trout Unlimited from Highland Park, Illinois;
Julian Holenstein, Canadian Great Lakes board member, member Environment
North from Thunder Bay, Ontario; and
Lisa Radosevich Pattni, Northern MN Director representing Senator
Paul Wellstone.

Invited, but not confirmed: Mary Durfee, Lake Superior Binational Forum; US
Congresssional Representative James Oberstar; representative from EPA,
Region 5 out of Chicago, Illinois; representative from International Joint
Commission; representative from Duluth City Council; Mayor Gary Doty;
representative from Red
Cliff Reservation; representative from Fond du Lac Reservation;
representative from St. Louis County Commission.

The hearing in Duluth is being sponsored by Great Lakes United, Lake
Superior Alliance, Lake Superior Greens, Clean Water Action, and the
Environmental Association for Great Lakes Education. 

The hearing will be video taped and forwarded to the International
Joint Commission and delivered to both governments this fall.

For more information, contact EAGLE at 218-726-1828 or email:
lakes@cp.duluth.mn.us


Additional Information:

The Guiding Principals of the Agreement include:
    Zero Discharge of Persistent Toxic Chemicals - The release
of any or all long-lived (persistent) harmful chemicals will be virtually
eliminated;
    Clean Up of Contaminated Waters - The waters will be free from
substances produced by humans that are toxic to people, wildlife, and fish;
    The Great Lakes Ecosystem - The Great Lakes basin is a complete
ecosystem where air, water, land and living things interact, downstream and
across borders.

The GLWQA applies to the five Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie
and Superior),  the connecting channels (St. Marys River, the St. Clair
River, and the Niagara River) and all the streams, rivers, lakes and
tributaires that drain into the Lakes.  

***********
Great Lakes Health Quiz

If the GLWQA is working, every citizen of the Great Lakes Basin should be
able to answer "yes" to these questions:

-Is it safe to swin in my Great Lake or in the river or creek flowing to it?
-Can I freely eat the fish from these waters without worrying about health
risks to me or my unborn children?
-Is my water safe to drink?
-Have contaminated sites near the water's edge, and polluted sediments in
the lake or river, been cleaned up?
-Have industrial and municipal releases of toxic pollutants to the water
and air in my community been eliminated?

If your answer to any of these questions is "NO", it is time to remind
the governments of their commitments.
*********

It is time for citizens to demand both the United States and Canadian
governments to finish the job and implement the goals of the agreement.

We owe many improvements in our water quality to the GLWQA but,
we still have a long way to go to achieve the zero discharge of toxic
pollutants into the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. The agreement
resulted in the construction and upgrading of sewage treatment plants
around the Great Lakes, including the Western Lake Superior Sanitary
District. Clean up and restoration of "Areas of Concern" or toxic hotspots
in the Basin, have begun. Several superfund sites in the
Duluth area have already been cleaned up or are in the process of
being remediated: Arrowhead Refinery - cleaned up;  USX site - not cleaned
up; The Interlake Iron site - clean up is almost completed.

In 1993, over 380 million pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the
basin. We have fish advisories for every lake because of mercury,
PCB's and other toxins.

Recent government funded scientific studies in the US indicate that
children's exposure to toxic chemicals, is worse than previously known.
Childhood cancers in the US have risen between 25-40% since the 1970s, due
to early exposure to toxic chemicals. Children's intelligence was also
found to be affected when exposed to persistent toxic substances in the womb.

"We must let our government know that we demand our
right to breathe clean air and drink clean water" exclaimed local
activist, Debbie Ortman, Hermantown, MN.