Wednesday, June 13, 2012

UPDATED: Public comment requested on two Public Health Assessments for Torch Lake Superfund site; public meeting to be June 20

LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has released two Public Health Assessments for the Torch Lake Superfund site and surrounding areas located in the Upper Peninsula, specifically Houghton and Keweenaw counties, for public comment.

The Public Health Assessment for "Physical hazards in the Torch Lake Superfund site and surrounding area" describes the physical hazards present from former copper mining activities. The report concluded that many physical hazards are present at places where former copper mining activities occurred. MDCH recommends that in order to make public safety a top priority, access to these places should be restricted or the hazards should be removed.

The Public Health Assessment for "Evaluation of Municipal and Residential Drinking Water around Torch Lake" looked at potential chemical exposure from municipal and private drinking water. This report found that municipal water is safe and meets applicable standards and regulations. There is not enough information on possible chemical levels in private wells installed or screened in stamp sand.

MDCH will host a multi-agency open house Wednesday, June 20, with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, followed by a public meeting to discuss the reports. The meeting will take place at Lake Linden-Hubbell High School located at 601 Calumet St., Lake Linden. The open house will be from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m., and the public meeting will start at 7 p.m.

MDCH also invites the public to provide comments on the Public Health Assessments. The documents are online at www.michigan.gov/mdch-toxics under "Health Assessments and Related Documents." Scroll down on that page and click on Torch Lake Superfund Site and Surrounding Areas. (Or Click here to go directly to the list of Torch Lake documents.) Copies are also available at the Lake Linden-Hubbell Public School Library located at 601 Calumet Street, Lake Linden, and the Portage Lake District Library at 58 Huron St., Houghton.

Information and comments may be sent to either Christina Bush or Dr. Jennifer Gray at Division of Environmental Health, Michigan Department of Community Health, 201 Townsend St., Lansing, MI 48913. Comments must be received by Aug. 10. Responses to all comments will be provided in the final version of the assessments.

The department's Division of Environmental Health conducted the Public Health Assessments under a cooperative agreement with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Information concerning the human health effects of exposure to environmental contaminants can be found on the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) web page at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaq.html.

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