BIG BAY, MICH. -- Two Upper Peninsula women are traveling to London, England, to attend the Rio Tinto Annual General Meeting taking place April 19, 2012.
Carla Champagne of the grassroots citizens group Concerned Citizens of Big Bay and Cynthia Pryor of the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve plan on attending the Rio Tinto AGM meeting for two reasons: 1) the lack of air monitors at or near Rio Tinto / Kennecott's Eagle Mine and 2) Rio Tinto / Kennecott's intention to remove air filter controls from the Main Vent Air Raise of the Eagle Mine.
"Air Quality is of prime importance to the people and community of Big Bay," states Carla Champagne. "We are directly downwind; and no one -- including Kennecott and the DEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) -- knows what is currently in the air coming from this mine, or, even more importantly, what will be coming from the mine once they are in full operation. There are no air monitors either at the mine or anywhere near Big Bay. We will be asking the Rio Tinto Board of Directors and their shareholders for a comprehensive air quality program to be installed in the region -- a program that will be regulated by the DEQ, monitored by DEQ-approved third party scientists -- and all costs paid for by Kennecott."
Cynthia Pryor considers this meeting an opportunity to express outrage at Kennecott’s new Air Quality application to remove the air filter controls from the Main Vent Air Raise, which will be used as the only exhaust for all the underground mine workings of the Eagle Mine.
"This 65-foot high stack sits within 150 feet of the Salmon Trout River," Pryor said. "We worked hard to get the air filter included as part of Kennecott’s original Air Quality permit as they intended the mine exhaust to be vented directly to the air. Now, they are back pedaling and want this air filter to be removed. We are vehemently opposed to such a notion, and we wish to make this clear to the Rio Tinto Board."
Rio Tinto filed their new Air Quality permit March 20, 2012; and the DEQ Air Quality Division is currently evaluating it. Public hearings for this application have been requested for Big Bay and Lansing. The application is on the DEQ website at http://www.deq.state.mi.us/aps/AppsOfInterest.shtml.