Thursday, September 13, 2018

Olé at the Rozsa: Food, Music and Laughter on Saturday’s Parade of Nations Menu

This year's Parade of Nations will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 15, in Hancock. (Logo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

By Cyndi Perkins*
Posted Sept. 11, 2018, on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted in part here with permission
2017 Parade videos and photos by Keweenaw Now

Guitar playing and juggling require nimble fingers, and the audience will witness both when Parade of Nations headliner -- the madcap international act Olé! -- performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 15), at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts.

The performance caps off a day of festivities that begin when the 29th annual Parade of Nations steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday in Hancock. The flag-flying procession -- including floats, horses, marchers in the traditional ceremonial clothing of their countries and the Huskies Pep Band -- makes its way across the Portage Lake Lift Bridge to Dee Stadium on the Houghton waterfront.

Michigan Tech's Pep Band kicks off the 2017 Parade of Nations in Hancock. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

At the Dee, the Multicultural Festival features 11 international performances on the main stage and 22 food booths serving cuisine from around the world at affordable prices. Pony rides, a book sale and art projects from local youth add to the fun. Outdoor dining will again be available this year to ease traffic congestion, and a projection screen is designed to make viewing activities on the main stage more accessible. Trivia contests and prizes will be awarded throughout the day -- the biggest of which is a drawing for a Chicago getaway package.

Indian students show off some of their lively modern dances -- a favorite performance at the Multicultural Festival.

More videos and photos of the 2017 Parade of Nations:

Participants in the 2017 Parade of Nations assemble on the Quincy Green in Hancock. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

Japanese students from Finlandia University, in elegant dress, pose for a photo with their English instructor, Janice Cox-Adolphs.

Cindy Miller, second from left, teacher of Spanish and French at Calumet High School, regularly participates in the Parade of Nations with her students.

Gustavo Bourdieu and friends display the Argentine flag as they cross the Portage Lift Bridge. A group from Bangladesh follows.

Chinese students display their float and dragon as they approach the Judges' Table at the Parade.

Members of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) sing and dance during the 2017 Parade of Nations.

During the 2017 Multicultural Festival following the Parade, Betty Chavis, co-founder of the Parade of Nations in 1990, expresses her thanks to the community for continuing the event, now in its 29th year.

Click here for Cyndi Perkins' full story on the 2018 Parade of Nations.

* Guest author Cyndi Perkins is an award-winning editor, journalist and columnist who writes feature articles for Michigan Tech University.

** For more photos of the 2017 Parade of Nations, see our Slide Show here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Finlandia's Festival Ruska to bring Nordic culture to Copper Country

Finlandia University's Festival Ruska will celebrate the Copper Country's fall color season with events beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 5. (Logo courtesy Finlandia University)

HANCOCK -- As the leaves start turning in the Copper Country, Finlandia University’s Finnish American Folk School's Festival Ruska provides an equally awesome lineup of cultural programming, this year featuring two remarkable artisans and a pair of Finnish-themed concerts.

This year, events get under way at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5, with a one-night-only performance by the up-and-coming Finnish band Steve ‘n’ Seagulls at Michigan Tech University’s Rozsa Center with their unique style of playing American hard rock songs with a bluegrass sound. The band rose to fame after being discovered on YouTube and has since developed a worldwide fan base that enjoys their quirky stage presence. Tickets for this concert are available by calling (906) 487-2073 or visiting finlandia.edu/seagulls. This concert is sponsored in part by the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce Upper Peninsula Chapter.

Two weeks later, the Folk School will welcome noted birchbark weaver John Zasada to the Finnish American Heritage Center for a two-day workshop creating a bread basket. A retired U.S. Forest Service employee, Zasada has devoted much of his adult life to the use and management of birch in northern forests and is eager to share his expertise with would-be artisans of any skill level. The class takes place Friday, Sept. 21, and Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Finnish American Heritage Center (FAHC), with personal instruction from Zasada, who has taught many similar classes at the North House Folk School in Minnesota. Space in the class is limited to eight students, so early registration ($150 per person) is encouraged. All materials will be provided. To reserve your place in this workshop, call (906) 487-7549.

Then, in early October, the international performers of the traveling ensemble Beethoven and Banjos will lead a Nordic folk music workshop at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6. Any musician who plays a stringed or other folk instrument is encouraged to join the workshop; for only $10 per person they’ll receive hands-on instruction from talented Nordic musicians who specialize in fiddle, nycleharpaa, banjo and much more.

Later that evening, the Beethoven and Banjos ensemble will take the stage at the FAHC for a 7:30 p.m. concert. They encourage you to "come as you are, pay what you can" and enjoy this stop on this group’s annual Upper Peninsula tour. Headlined by well known and longtime U.P. musicians Evan and Laurel Premo, the group also includes musicians from other parts of the U.S., as well as Norway and Sweden.

Finnish American Folk School programming will conclude its Ruska season with a four-week class in Finnish-style boat making, held in conjunction with the woodworking class at Calumet High School. Led by veteran boatmaker Alex Comb of northern Minnesota, the class will include several Calumet High School students, but is open to the general public as well ($400 per patron includes all class sessions). Comb will provide direction into the art of building a Finnish-style rowboat, similar to that seen at the Salolampi Language Village in northern Minnesota. For more information about how you can be a part of this unique opportunity, call (906) 487-7549.

Festival Ruska is Finlandia University’s annual celebration of the fall color season in Michigan’s Copper Country. Finnish American Folk School programming is sponsored in part by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation and is managed by the staff of the Finnish American Heritage Center. For more information about the center and its mission to preserve and promote Finnish culture in North American, visit finlandia.edu/fahc.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

4th Annual Pipe Out Paddle Protest against Line 5, Water is Life Festival to be Sept. 1 in Mackinaw City

During the 2017 Pipe Out Paddle Protest, Native and non-Native water protectors gather near the Mackinac Bridge with their kayaks and canoes, display their banners and sing songs about the water. This year the event will take place Saturday, Sept. 1, followed by a Water is Life Festival, both in Mackinaw City. (2017 file photo © and courtesy Miguel Levy)*

MACKINAW CITY -- Two events to protest Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac and to celebrate the water will be held this Saturday, Sept. 1, in Mackinaw City.

The 4th Annual Pipe Out Paddle Protest against the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 1, at Huron St. and Nicolet Ave. in Mackinaw City. A flotilla of dozens of kayaks and canoes will gather offshore from Mackinaw City, raising signs and calling for the shut down of Line 5. Bring your own kayak or rent one onsite. Please RSVP and see the schedule here -- and learn more about getting there, camping, and renting a kayak. This is a free, family-friendly event.

Water is Life Festival poster courtesy Oil and Water Don't Mix.

The Water is Life Festival will follow from noon to 6:30 p.m. at Conkling Heritage Park in Mackinaw City. Lunch will be served at noon, and then all will gather to celebrate water through music (Hip Hop, folk, and native musicians), poets, speakers on Nestle and Line 5 from Flint and Detroit, and also tribal leaders and elected officials. One of Michigan's favorite musicians, organizer Seth Bernard, is the emcee. Bring a chair or blanket for sitting in the grass and a water bottle to use at the hydration stations. This is a free, family-friendly event.

Click here to see the festival schedule and RSVP.

* Click here to see our article on the 2017 Pipe Out Paddle Protest in Mackinaw City.

Monday, August 27, 2018

MDEQ to hold Abandoned Mining Wastes Project Open House Aug. 29 in Lake Linden

Poster for the Aug. 29, 2018, Abandoned MiningWastes Project OPEN HOUSE. (Poster courtesy Amy Keranen, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Remediation and Redevelopment Division)

LAKE LINDEN -- The MDEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) Abandoned Mining Wastes Project OPEN HOUSE (originally scheduled for June 20 and postponed because of the flooding) will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, AUGUST 29, at the Lake Linden-Hubbell High School Auditorium. The project team consists of staff involved in the planning, fieldwork, cleanup, and reporting for the project -- along with the On-Scene Coordinator Brian Kelly, from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Emergency Response Branch (ERB), who is managing three projects in the area. The team will share their findings with the community with maps and photos to display where they conducted their work, what they have found, and what they have planned.

This informal open house will provide the public with the opportunity to drop in, meet the project team and get any questions answered. Contact Amy Keranen, MDEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division, at keranena@michigan.gov for more information.

Recent projects include the following:
  • 2017 sampling in former mining ruins in the Mason area, which identified the presence of widespread asbestos and abandoned containers at three of the five properties that make up the area.
  • Evaluation of the PCBs found in the reclamation areas of Lake Linden and Hubbell and connecting them to the presence of PCBs in the tissue of Torch Lake fish.
  • Assistance from the EPA Emergency Response Branch to address the contaminated sediments at the Lake Linden Recreation Area site.
Near-shore sediment sampling in 2017. (Photos courtesy Amy Keranen, Michigan DEQ Remediation and Redevelopment Division)
  • Investigation indicating the presence of widespread asbestos containing materials, residual wastes and abandoned containers throughout the Quincy Mining Company Mason area, including those at the Quincy Mill ruins west of M-26, which is frequented by recreational users. The EPA is in the process of evaluating existing information and planning a potential removal action.
Quincy Stamp Mill No. 1 ruins in Mason.
  • Calumet and Hecla (C and H) Mineral Building waste piles and asbestos cleanup.
  • Calumet Stamp Mill asbestos removal.
Calumet Stampmill foundation after asbestos removal was completed and the area seeded and mulched.
  • Tamarack Sands waste seep removal.
  • Hubbell Smelter Area shoreline drum removal.
This photo shows drum removal from beneath the cap at the water’s edge.
  • Cleanups at the Hubbell Coal Dock property, where PCB containing scrap was burned. 
  • Side scan sonar survey at the Quincy Mining Company operational areas from Dollar Bay down to the Portage Lift Bridge.
The team is planning further projects for 2018.

Click here for details in the Spring 2018 newsletter, "Notes from the Desk of Amy Keranen."

Click here for the Abandoned Mining Wastes Web site and more info.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Hey! Ho! Come to the Houghton County Fair Aug. 23-26

By Michele Bourdieu

This year's Houghton County Fair Carnival and Midway rides will open at 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, and will run from noon until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 24 and 25, and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26. (2017 file photo by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- Hey! Ho! this "town crier" rooster says it's time for the Houghton County Fair with entertainment and events for the whole family:

(Video by Keweenaw Now)

The 2018 Houghton County Fair will be held from 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, through 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26, at the Fairgrounds, 1500 Birch Street in Hancock.

In addition to the Carnival and Midway rides, some highlights of this year's fair include Whispering Pines Mobile Zoo, Kevin Kammeraad Copperfly Puppet Show, The ATV Big Air Jumpers, Canines in the Clouds, Livestock shows and competitions, musical entertainment, a Youth Talent Show, Horse shows, exhibits, a beekeeping demonstration, Motocross, Monster Trucks, Demolition Derby and more.

Senior citizens, don't forget the special events for seniors from noon to 4 p.m. on Friday in the indoor arena -- including entertainment, prize drawings and a free lunch!

Gustavo loves the fair! (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Click here for the brochure, including ticket prices, events and a map.

Click here for the schedule of events.

More videos, photos of the 2017 Houghton County Fair:

Exhibiting their lambs are, from right, Eva, Bailey and Kyla.

During the 2017 sheep and goat show, some frisky lambs present a challenge to their young owners. However, with persistence and a little help from judges, the contestants in the competition manage to get their charges lined up. (Video by Keweenaw Now

Can you guess the breed of this cute little brown and white goat? Its owner explains below ...

Posters like these show how young farmers have done research on the animals they are learning to raise. Click on photo for larger version. (2017 photos by Keweenaw Now)

Meanwhile, in the sheep and goat livestock pavilion, it's lunchtime for some of the animals ...

During the 2017 Houghton County Fair, a quiet alpaca is distracted by a noisy sheep neighbor eating his lunch. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Monday, August 20, 2018

DEQ to hold public hearing Aug. 21 on Humboldt Mill permits for Eagle Mine; public comment periods announced

Aerial view of the Humboldt Mill Wastewater Treatment Plant and the north end of the Humboldt Pit Lake, referred to as the "Humboldt Tailings Disposal Facility" (HTDF). (2017 Photo © and courtesy Jeremiah Eagle Eye)

MARQUETTE -- The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is holding a consolidated public hearing from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 21, 2018, at Westwood High School auditorium, 300 Westwood Drive, Ishpeming, Michigan 49849, to hear comments regarding the following:

(1) The MDEQ’s proposed decision to grant a request submitted by Eagle Mine LLC to amend Mining Permit MP 01 2010, issued under Part 632, Nonferrous Metallic Mineral Mining, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, for approval to add additional tailings to the Humboldt Tailings Disposal Facility to a higher elevation than previously authorized. For additional information, contact Melanie Humphrey, MDEQ Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855, 906-250-7564.*

(2) The MDEQ’s proposed decision to modify an NPDES discharge permit issued to Eagle Mine, LLC, Humboldt Mill. The applicant proposes to discharge treated process wastewater, treated laboratory wastewater, treated water treatment backwash, treated sump water, and treated storm water to a new outfall through a pipeline directly to the Middle Branch Escanaba River.
Address of permittee: Eagle Mine LLC,
4547 County Road 601
Champion, MI 49814
Location of mining area: Sections 2 and 11, T47N, R29W, Humboldt Township, Marquette County.

Participants in the hearing will be asked to fill out attendance cards at the entrance of the auditorium indicating intentions to speak. Following opening remarks at the start of the hearing, participants will be called to speak in the order of cards received. Presentations will be limited to three minutes. Opportunities for additional time to speak may be offered if time allows.

Written comment deadlines: Sept. 18, Aug. 31, 2018

The DEQ will accept written comments on the Mining Permit Amendment Request from date of the hearing until 5 p.m. September 18, 2018. Comments may be mailed to MDEQ/OGMD, 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, MI 49855, or E-mail comments to DEQ-Mining-Comments@michigan.gov with "Humboldt Mill" as the subject.

The DEQ will accept written comments or objections to the proposed NPDES permit modification until August 31, 2018. The written comments or objections will be considered in the final decision to issue the permit. Persons wishing to submit comments regarding the NPDES permit modification should go to https://miwaters.deq.state.mi.us/miwaters/#/external/publicnotice/info/-4966034863216180101/details and click 'Add Comment,' enter information into the fields, and then click 'Submit.' Inquires should be directed to Renee Pionk, Permits Section, Water Resources Division (WRD), MDEQ, P.O. Box 30458, Lansing, Michigan, 48909-7958; 517-284-5573; pionkr@michigan.gov.

Documents available

Documents pertaining to the Humboldt Mill Mining Permit Amendment Request and proposed decision may be accessed at the following web page under "Humboldt Mill Permit Amendment": http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,4561,7-135-3311_18442-359902--,00.html

Copies of the NPDES permit application, public notice, Antidegradation Demonstration, basis for decision memo, and draft permit are available for review at https://miwaters.deq.state.mi.us/miwaters/#/external/publicnotice/info/-4966034863216180101/documents or at the WRD’s Upper Peninsula District Office located at 1504 West Washington Street, Marquette, Michigan 49855; telephone 906-228-4853.

* Editor's Note: For background see our Jan. 2, 2018, article, "Environmental groups, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community question Lundin Mining's permit amendment request for Humboldt Mill tailings disposal."

Friday, August 17, 2018

Old Hancock High School listed in National Register of Historic Places

The former Hancock Central High School, now part of Finlandia University, was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

HANCOCK -- The former Hancock High School building on Quincy Street, next to the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock, and now owned by Finlandia University, has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 

The Hancock City Council learned of the listing during their meeting on Aug. 15, 2018, from a letter to Hancock Mayor Lisa McKenzie from Brian D. Conway, State Historic Preservation Officer.

The letter states, "I am pleased to inform you that the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior, has listed the Hancock Central High School, Hancock, Houghton County, Michigan, in the National Register of Historic Places. The Keeper of the National Register listed the property on July 24, 2018.

"The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Nominations of Michigan properties to the National Register are made by the State Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended. Information on the National Register and related SHPO program can be found at www.michigan.gov/shpo.

"While listing in the National Register does not place any legal restrictions on a property, it does allow for consideration in the planning for federal or federally assisted projects; provides eligibility for federal tax benefits; qualifies properties for federal assistance for historic preservation, when funds are available; serves as a catalyst for economic development; and promotes heritage tourism. Additionally, some granting organizations require or look favorably upon National Register-listed properties."

Finlandia University President Philip Johnson said Finlandia is very happy about this historic listing for the building.

"Achieving recognition for the old high school on the National Register is one more piece in Finlandia's desire to honor this building's iconic status," Johnson told Keweenaw Now. "Finlandia's commitment is to retain the missional purpose of this wonderful building: education. We continue to plan for its restoration and renovation with the goal to have it serve as Finlandia's College of Health Sciences. Our priority is to 1) preserve, even restore its historic character; 2) turn it into a truly collegiate instructional space; and 3) design or preserve those spaces that can be used for community and cultural activities such as performing arts, recreation, and continuing education."

The present building replaced an 1875 junior/senior high school that was destroyed by fire in 1922. The new school was built in 1923-1924, and elementary, junior and senior high students attended it over the years until 1970, when elementary students were moved to other schools. A new elementary school was built in 1989. A new high school opened in 1999 on Campus Drive, and students in grades 6-8 remained in the old building on Quincy Street. Junior high students then moved into a wing of the new high school in 2010, when the Hancock School District gave the old building to Finlandia University.*

* Click here for the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, with historic photos of the old high school and descriptions of the building.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

WATER exhibit, community benefit at Kerredge Gallery through Aug. 31

WATER: A Waterfall in the Forest, by Paul Osmak. (Photo courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

HANCOCK -- The Copper Country Community Arts Center (CCCAC) invited community artists to respond to the theme of WATER for an exhibition in the Kerredge Gallery. The CCCAC will donate its portion of the sales to the Keweenaw Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund, which benefits those who are working to put their lives back together after the disastrous June 17 flood. The gallery is filled with paintings, photographs, and drawings, as well as baskets and fiber depicting soothing images of water. The exhibit opened Aug. 14 and continues through Aug. 31.

WATER: Paddlers' Paradise, by Kevin Breyfogle. (Photo courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

Artists taking part in this exhibition include: Brenda Anttila, Leona Blessing, Kevin Breyfogle, Eunice Carlson, Cynthia Coté, Bob Dawson, Phyllis Fredendall, Joyce Koskenmaki, Nancy Kromer, Donna Lenard, Madhura Mehendale, Clyde Mikkola, Eric Munch, Paul Osmak, Sandra Norris Palmore, Miriam Pickens, Kris Raisanen Schourek, Bridget Riversmith, Toivo Salo, Daniel Schneider, Judith Saunders, Barbara Summersett, Fredi Taddeucci, Abigail Tembreull, Karen Tembreull, Rod Waara, and Christa Walck.

The public is invited to celebrate the healing power of art at a reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 24. Refreshments will be served. Purchasing a piece from this exhibition will support a local artist and help the CCCAC help our community. The Copper Country Community Arts Center is located at 126 Quincy Street in Hancock. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. For more information call (906) 482-2333.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Guest article: Local Democrats hopeful with strong candidates for November election

By Brian Rendel *

Democrats have every reason to feel great about the coming November election. There are several signs that suggest the surge in public engagement following the 2016 election reflects ongoing commitment to involvement in our political process.

A slate of candidates to be proud of, including three amazing women, have stepped forward to empower our County Board with fresh, capable leadership.**

To get in November’s ballot, congressional candidate Matt Morgan needed about 4000 Democrats in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District to write in his name following a partisan decision over a technicality to reject his filing petition. Not only was the goal reached, but it was significantly exceeded. Well over 30,000 Democrats wrote in "Matt Morgan" despite voters getting the extra challenge of having to print small with big-tipped Sharpies. This impressive feat reflects both Matt’s organization skills and a level of passion from Democrats that we haven’t seen in some time.

Ken Summers, our candidate for the State House, has knocked more doors, walked more miles, and probably met more constituents than anyone in Michigan running for office this year, exponentially outworking and out-fundraising his opponents. Nobody is more ready to take over Scott’s work representing the 110th.***

Scott Dianda nearly matched the number of primary votes of the combined GOP candidates in the 38th State Senate District. Given Scott’s regional popularity and history of also earning some cross-over votes in general elections, this is a strong indicator that Democrats can take back this seat this fall.

There are many reasons for hope, including two wonderful State Supreme Court candidates -- Megan Cavanagh and Samuel Bagenstos -- who will bring Democratic Values back to the Court; the super-qualified candidates for Secretary of State (our friend Jocelyn Benson who literally wrote the book on the position); Attorney General (Dana Nessel, the fierce public advocate); and our friend Sen. Debbie Stabenow (whose Democratic votes blew away all the GOP primary votes combined this week).

In the most exciting primary race for governor in a long time, three strong leaders emerged, who attracted the votes of over a million passionate Democrats. Minutes after it was clear Gretchen Whitmer had won over half those votes, both Shri and Abdul strongly endorsed her and pledged to her their full support toward victory in November. She is a leader who has served the people for many years and is a leader we can proud to unite behind.

With turnout beating records going back to 1978, this is an exciting year to be an active Democrat, advancing people-focused ideals our country was founded to honor.

Inset photo: Brian Rendel. (Photo courtesy Brian Rendel)

Editor's Notes:

* Guest author Brian Rendel is vice chair of communications for the Houghton County Democratic Party.

** The three women candidates for the Houghton County Board of Commissioners are Melissa Davis, District 2; Gretchen Janssen, District 4; and Sharon A. Stoll, District 5.

*** Scott Dianda, presently 110th District State Representative, is running for the 38th District State Senate seat, soon to be vacated by Tom Casperson.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Houghton, Keweenaw counties report Aug. 7 Primary results

By Michele Bourdieu

During the Houghton County Democratic Party HCDP Spring Fling last May, Valorie Troesch, right, HCDP vice chair of Political Organizing and Candidate Recruitment, introduces the party's new candidates for Houghton County Commissioner, who all spoke at the Spring Fling event and ran in the Aug. 7 Primary Election. Pictured, from left, are Sharon A. Stoll, District 5; Melissa Davis, District 2; and Glenn Anderson, District 3. Not pictured is Gretchen Janssen, District 4, who spoke to the audience via Skype while traveling. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON, EAGLE RIVER, Mich. -- Houghton and Keweenaw County clerks -- Houghton County's Jennifer Lorenz and Keweenaw's Julie Carlson -- have been working very hard to finalize the Aug. 7 Michigan Primary results after working on canvassing following the election.

As reported to Keweenaw Now by Lorenz and Carlson, here are the unofficial results for Houghton County (to be updated soon if necessary) and official (post-canvassing) results for Keweenaw County. Our numbers are for the Democratic and Republican party candidates only.

Whitmer, Schuette take most votes for Governor

Houghton County totals include the City of Hancock, City of Houghton, and these townships: Adams, Calumet, Chassell, Duncan, Elm River, Franklin, Hancock, Laird, Osceola, Portage, Quincy, Schoolcraft, Stanton, and Torch Lake.

Houghton County Democratic votes for Governor totaled 1,675 for Gretchen Whitmer, 902 for Abdul El-Sayed, 649 for Shri Thanedar, and 8 write-ins.

Houghton County Republican votes for Governor totaled 1,683 for Bill Schuette, 612 for Patrick Colbeck, 440 for Jim Hines, 431 for Brian Calley, and 4 write-ins.

Keweenaw County totals include the 5 townships: Allouez, Eagle Harbor, Grant, Houghton and Sherman.

Keweenaw County Democratic voters gave Whitmer 193 votes, El-Sayed 81 and Thanedar 73. In the Republican Primary Governor's race Keweenaw County reports 225 for Schuette, 65 for Calley, 65 for Colbeck and 61for Hines.

U.S. Senate race: Houghton County shows strong support for Sen. Debbie Stabenow

In the U.S. Senator election, Houghton County Democratic voters showed their support for incumbent Senator Debbie Stabenow, who ran unopposed in the Primary, by giving her a total of 3,104 votes. Houghton County Democratic totals for this seat included 21 write-ins.

Stabenow will likely be opposed in November by Republican primary candidate John James, who defeated his Republican primary opponent, Sandy Pensler. In Houghton County James received 1,882 votes and Pensler 1,091. Totals included 5 write-ins.

In Keweenaw County, Stabenow received 328 Democratic votes. In the Republican U.S. Senate primary, James received 233 votes and Pensler 158.

District 1 U.S. Representative in Congress: Morgan to challenge Rep. Bergman in November

Houghton County: Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman, who also ran unopposed, received 2,901 Republican votes. 13 Republican write-ins showed some opposition.

The only Democratic candidate for this seat, Matt Morgan, whose name was not on the ballot because of a clerical error, managed to receive enough write-in votes to run in November against Bergman. Houghton County Democratic voters gave Morgan 1,478 write-in votes. TV 6 stated, "According to Morgan's campaign, unofficial vote counts from 20 counties in the 32-county district indicate there were 20,000-plus write-in votes cast in the Democratic race for Congress."


Keweenaw County: Bergman 374 votes and Morgan 123. (According to Carlson the only Keweenaw County write-in votes that could be counted were those for Morgan.)

38th District Michigan State Senate: Dianda to face McBroom

Democrat Scott Dianda, presently 110th District Michigan representative, ran unopposed for the 38th District Michigan Senate seat (now held by Tom Casperson). Dianda received 3,178 Democratic Primary votes in Houghton County. 14 write-ins were included in the totals.

Republican Ed McBroom received 1,921 Houghton County Republican Primary votes for this 38th District Senate seat, while his opponent, Mike Carey, received 1,110. 7 write-ins were also received. McBroom defeated Carey in the 38th District, which covers 12 of the Upper Peninsula's 15 counties.


In Keweenaw County Democrat Dianda received 350 votes and Republicans McBroom and Carey received 230 and 175 respectively.

District 110 State Representative race

In the contest for Michigan District 110 Representative, Ken Summers ran unopposed on the Democratic side, receiving 2,959 Houghton County votes. Write-ins were 14.

Four Republicans contested the District 110 seat: Brady J. Tervo, who received 1,129 Houghton County votes; Gregory Markkanen, 983; Kirk R. Schott, 459; and Keith LaCosse, 396. So far it is not clear which of them might run against Summers in November. 3 write-ins were noted.


In Keweenaw County 311 votes went to Democrat Summers, while Republican Markkanen received 166 votes, Tervo 130, LaCosse 55 and Schott 38.

According to TV6/ Upper Peninsula Source as of Thursday afternoon (today, Aug. 9), "Unofficial results from the August Republican primary show Greg Markkanen at just 24 votes ahead of Kirk Schott in the race for the Western U.P.’s 110th State House District. The district includes voters from seven counties. An official vote total may not be released until the end of August."*

Houghton County Commissioners race: effect of write-ins

New Democratic candidates in the Houghton County Commissioners race were opposed by Republican write-ins, making at least two of the 5 positions more contested than anticipated. 

In the Houghton County Commissioner race, the following Republicans received primary votes:
District 1 (Calumet and Hancock townships): Tom Tikkanen, unopposed, received 575 votes. (9 write-ins)
District 2 (Franklin Township, Osceola Township, Quincy Township, Schoolcraft Township and Torch Lake Township): Albert Koskela, unopposed, received 637 votes. (5 write-ins)
District 3 (City of Hancock and Adams Township) (56 write-ins)
District 4 (City of Houghton) (47 write-ins)
District 5 (Chassell, Duncan, Elm River, Laird, Portage and Stanton townships): Roy Britz received 574 Republican votes, and Tim Palosaari 435. (4 write-ins)


Democratic candidates for Houghton County Commissioner received the following primary votes:

District 1: (35 write-ins)
District 2: Melissa Davis, unopposed, received 622 votes. (2 write-ins)
District 3: Glenn Anderson, unopposed, received 588 votes. (11 write-ins)
District 4: Gretchen Janssen, unopposed, received 524 votes. (3 write-ins)
District 5: Sharon A. Stoll, unopposed, received 626 votes. (1 write-in)
 

While the Democratic candidates were unopposed by other Democrats, Republican write-ins have made the District 3 and District 4 races contested for November. Republican write-in Ben Jaehnig received 22 votes for District 3 and Republican John Sullivan received 34 write-in votes for District 4. They needed only 12 write-in votes to be eligible for the November ballot. 

Valorie Troesch of the Houghton County Democratic Party, who worked with the Democratic candidates, encouraging them to run for the County Commission, commented on the primary election results, noting the effect of the write-ins.

"Houghton County Democrats are optimistic about a projected blue wave in November, but we are taking nothing for granted," Troesch told Keweenaw Now. "We are gratified at the turnout in the primary, especially the write-in support for Matt Morgan. It far exceeded our goals and expectations. HCDP (Houghton County Democratic Party) has 4 candidates running for County Commissioner in November. It turns out that all four of these races are contested owing to two write-in Republican candidates in Districts 3 and 4 who will now also appear on the November ballot in addition to the two Republicans who already filed. Each of the four Democratic candidates is working hard to let voters know who they are and how they would serve their constituents if elected. Their goal is to knock on every door before the election. They are also looking for persons willing to host lawn signs in their districts, especially in highly visible locations. If anyone is interested, contact Valorie Troesch at vtroesch@gmail.com."

Keweenaw County Road Commission contested race

In Keweenaw County, the only local contested primary race, according to Carlson, was the Road Commission.

Kevin Gherna received 306 Democratic votes; Republican Richard R. Olson received 246, defeating Republican John Glenn Karvonen, who had 194 votes.

Proposals receive affirmative votes

In both counties proposals on the ballots passed with a majority of yes votes.

Houghton County Proposals for Veterans' Services, Adams Township School District Bonding Proposal, CLK Public Schools Bonding Proposal, Hancock Public Schools Sinking Fund, and Laird Township millage of 1 mill over 2 years for a new roof and siding for the Nisula Church all passed with "Yes" votes in the majority.

Keweenaw County Proposals for County Allocation, County Veterans, Allouez Township Fire Protection, Eagle Harbor Township Emergency Services, Houghton Township Operating, and CLK School Bond all passed.

* Editor's Note: Click here for details on the 110th District State Representative race.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

From MTU News: Putting Stamp Sand to Good Use, and Then Some

Stamps sands, materials left over from stamping copper out of mine rock, cover 1,426 acres of shoreline and lake bottom near Gay, Michigan. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

By Kimberly Geiger *
Posted Aug. 1, 2018
Reprinted here with permission

The Whiz Kids team from Lake Linden-Hubbell High School have participated in eCYBERMISSION, a US Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP). Their mission: research and develop a process to benefit their community.

The Whiz Kids -- Siona Beaudoin, Beau Hakala and Gabriel Poirier -- is the only team from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The group has been advised by students, faculty and staff from Michigan Technological University and focused on stamp sands for the past three years.

"Our elementary school, playground and football field were constructed on top of stamp sands -- materials left over from stamping the copper out of the mine rock," the team wrote in their AEOP grant proposal. "Also, many of our grandparents worked in area mines."

The team decided to try to use some of the stamp sand. Their goal was twofold: decrease the amount of stamp sand in the area and help prevent it from migrating any further.

This photo shows how the black stamp sands from Gay (at right) have been moving down the Lake Superior shore and around the breakwater at Big Traverse, threatening the clean sand on the other side. They also threaten fish spawning areas in the lake at Buffalo Reef. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Because stamp sand is rich in copper, many plants cannot grow in it. In fall 2016, the Whiz Kids decided to see which plants could grow in stamp sand. Using containers under grow lights at their school, they determined alfalfa and fescue grew well, while trefoil and red clover did not. This research won them first place in the national e-CYBERMISSION 8th grade competition. The team is now growing alfalfa and fescue in test plots on the Lake Linden stamp sands.

Three students pick up sand samples at the Gay stamp sands. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

In fall 2017, as ninth graders, the Whiz Kids placed first in Michigan. Instead of progressing through the eCYBERMISSION competition, they won an $1,800 STEM in Action Grant from the AEOP to continue researching stamp sand.

This time, the team used stamp sand from Lake Linden and nearby town of Gay as part of the fine aggregate in concrete. They found that the compressive strength of concrete made with stamp sand and commercial sand exceeded the strength requirements of lightweight concrete.

"Their hard work and dedication to a local scientific problem has shown that a few students at a small school can make a huge impact on their community. Growing plants on stamp sand and using stamp sand in concrete have opened the door to methods that could actually be used to remediate the stamp sands in the Lake Superior watershed."

-- Nick Squires, science teacher, Lake Linden-Hubbell High School

Each year Nick Squires, Lake Linden-Hubbell science teacher, offers his students activities for learning about the local ecology and stewardship practices in an area that has been disturbed by mining waste and remediated as a Superfund site. Here he shows his biology students how to plant dark-green bulrush and red-osier dogwood near the shore of Torch Lake in May 2016. These students also monitored the Lake Linden Village Sands (where the Torch Lake Superfund covered stamp sand from mining with vegetation) and collected data for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (Keweenaw Now file photo)**

Whiz Kids Go to Washington

Both last year and this summer, the Whiz Kids traveled to Washington, DC, to present their work at the eCYBERMISSION National Competition. This year's trip began on Father’s Day, June 17 -- the day of the Houghton County flood. They were supposed to leave on the 6 a.m. flight at the Houghton Airport.

Gabriel Poirier made it there on time. Beau Hakala was stuck in Mason between two mud slides that covered M-26. With the help of people in Mason, he and his family were driven through the flooded roads to Siona Beaudoin’s house, so that her father could drive them to the airport. United Airlines staff and TSA employees helped everyone stranded. The flight finally left around 5 p.m. and the team arrived in Washington, DC, at midnight.

While in DC, the team presented their concrete research at an eCYBERMISSION showcase and poster session. As part of the week-long activities, the team met with U.S. Representative Jack Bergman and Senator Debbie Stabenow to discuss their projects and their potential impact on the community.

The Whiz Kids are pictured here in Congressman Jack Bergman's office. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

With help from Representative Bergman, the team met with scientists at the EPA to learn how the agency implements new remediation methods. The team also received information about EPA contacts in Chicago and Duluth to discuss their projects in greater detail.

The Whiz Kids team members stand with EPA officials in Washington, DC. Mitigating stamp sand encroachment involves many stakeholders. Pictured in the blue shirts are, from left, Whiz Kids advisor Ryan Knoll, a chemical engineering senior at Michigan Tech and graduate of Lake Linden High School; Gretchen Hein, a senior lecturer in engineering fundamentals at Michigan Tech; and the Whiz Kids -- Gabe Poirier,  Beau Hakala, and Siona Beaudoin. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

As eCYBERMISSION attendees, they enjoyed engineering activities in DC, including how to operate and program drones, create a circuit and use night vision goggles to see the lights in the circuit, as well as about cybersecurity by hacking into a system.

At the recent eCYBERMISSION conference in Washington, DC, the Whiz Kids (Gabe, Beau, and Siona) learned how to use night vision goggles to see the lights in the circuit. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

Mentoring Makes the Difference

The Whiz Kids traveled to DC with their advisor Ryan Knoll, a chemical engineering senior at Michigan Tech and graduate of Lake Linden High School. Also advising the Whiz Kids are Lake Linden high school teacher Nick Squires; Gretchen Hein, a senior lecturer in engineering fundamentals at Michigan Tech; and Rob Fritz, a technical lab coordinator in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan Tech. Fritz helped the team identify and test concrete mixtures.

"Ryan has been working with the team for two years," Hein says. "He is dedicated to the team and spends up to 10 hours a week with them after school."

"Ryan helped them develop technical writing skills and experimental process skills; he has emphasized the importance of science and math in high school and showed the team how their classes will help them be successful in college. He has truly been a mentor to the team."

-- Gretchen Hein, engineering fundamentals, Michigan Tech

"Mentoring this team has been a great experience for me, too," Knoll says. "It has helped me develop communication, teaching and presentation skills. The experience may have also given me an advantage while interviewing to be an engineering technician intern at Koppers Performance Chemicals in Hubbell. I look forward to working with the Whiz Kids as they continue their research throughout the next school year."

Joining the Conversation

As part of their research and interest in stamp sand, the Whiz Kids have attended public meetings on Buffalo Reef and Big Traverse.

"They were excited to see that using stamp sand in concrete was one of the proposed remediation methods," Hein says.

Researchers at Michigan Tech will help design long-term solutions for removing mine waste from the shoreline of Lake Superior and Buffalo Reef, an important fish spawning ground. According to one recent estimate, without action more than 60 percent of the reef will be smothered by stamp sands in the next 10 years.

This map shows the area of the potential 2018 stamp sands project for stamp sand removal and containment near Gay on the Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior. Click on map for larger version. (Map courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

The work is in partnership with state and federal agencies, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, area businesses, community members and stakeholders -- who are approaching the problem of removing a large volume of stamp sands to protect fish habitat, homes and beaches. With creative solutions, the Whiz Kids are joining the conversation.**

eCYBERMISSION competition

Although they will be 10th graders this coming school year and are now aged out of the eCYBERMISSION competition, the Whiz Kids will not disband. Beaudoin, Hakala and Poirier will continue to work with Fritz this fall. Additionally, they will be talking with younger students in the community about stamp sand and its impact, starting with the Lake Linden Elementary School Great Explorations program. They’ll show them how to make concrete stepping stones using stamp sand as the fine aggregate.

Furthermore, the team will be mentoring the 7th grade eCYBERMISSION team at Lake Linden-Hubbell High School that will consist of Jenna Beaudoin, Chloe Daniels and Rebecca Lyons. Last but not least, Beaudoin will be working with Andrew Burton in Michigan Tech's School of Forestry on a project for the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, another competition sponsored by the US Army Educational Outreach Program.

Editor's Notes:

* Keweenaw Now guest author Kimberly Geiger is outreach coordinator in the Michigan Tech College of Engineering. She supports the dean of engineering, associate deans, and all engineering departments. Her professional background includes work in book publishing, media relations, special event production, and sales.

** See "Students learn environmental stewardship through planting, monitoring, birding at Torch Lake Superfund site."

*** See "DNR stamp sand dredging buys time; EPA provides $3.1 million for Army Corps dredging to protect Buffalo Reef fish spawning habitat."

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Copperwood applies for permit to construct Tailings Disposal Facility; public comments due Aug. 1, 2018

By Michele Bourdieu

Highland Copper subsidiary Copperwood Resources, Inc., has applied to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for a Part 315 Dam Safety permit for constructing the Tailings Disposal Facility (TDF) (outlined above in orange, lower center of map) for the Copperwood Mining Project near Wakefield. Click on map for slightly larger version or go to page 53, Fig. 1-2, of Copperwood Resources' proposed Part 632 mining permit amendment for a larger version. (Screenshot of map courtesy Copperwood Resources, Inc.)

GAYLORD, Mich. -- Thomas Repaal, Copperwood Resources, Inc., 310 East US Hwy 2, Wakefield, Michigan 49968, has applied to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Water Resources Division Gaylord Field Office for a permit under authority of Part 315, Dam Safety, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended (NREPA).

The applicant proposes to construct a 320-acre Tailings Disposal Facility (TDF) as part of the Copperwood Project
underground copper mine. The final TDF will be constructed of earth fill and will include approximately 9.29 million cubic yards of material for the embankments. The project is located in T49N, R45W, Sections 6, 7, and 8; Wakefield and Ironwood Townships; Gogebic County, Michigan.

Jim Pawloski, DEQ Water Resources engineer in the Gaylord office (Hydrologic Studies and Dam Safety Unit), said the Part 315 permit is required because of the size and height of the proposed TDF -- 320 acres and up to 130 feet high.

Pawloski told Keweenaw Now Copperwood's Part 315 application is essentially the same as the one they applied for and received previously.

"It's actually a new application because the previous one expired after five years," Pawloski said.

Further description from the summary of activities in the Part 315 permit application form:

"The TDF embankment will be comprised of three zones of soil fill, the innermost of which is a low permeability recompacted soil fill. In addition to these three embankment zones, a HDPE geomembrane liner will be installed on the upstream face of the embankment to control tailings water seepage. Construction of the TDF will also impact 51.25 acres of wetland, which will be mitigated on-site and through preservation off-site. The TDF will also require the filling of 16,557 linear feet of stream and creek; provisions have been made to intercept all upstream flow and route it around the TDF through the construction of stream channels using natural stream channel design. The downstream watershed will be left intact and undisturbed. Upon closure of the mine, the TDF will be capped, reclaimed, and returned to a natural, self-sustaining ecosystem. The cap will consist of a geosynthetic separation layer, a capillary break layer, a soil cover layer, and a vegetative support layer. Once reclaimed, the TDF will provide approximately 320 acres of grassland habitat with drainage directed north into existing stream channels."*

In their description of the TDF, the applicant also notes, "The sediment in the tailings and contact water will settle out in the TDF, and the water will be collected via decant structure piping and transferred to the on-site wastewater treatment plant."*

The scenic North Country Trail passes very near the south side of the TDF.

Doug Welker of Atlantic Mine, a member of a local North Country Trail chapter, helps maintain the North Country Trail and enjoys hiking in Upper Peninsula areas of the trail.

This drawing shows Stage 3 of the proposed Tailings Disposal Facility (TDF) with base liner grades. Note streams to the north and the proximity of the North Country Trail to the south of the TDF (arrow above the letter A on south side points to the scenic trail). For a larger view go to page 70, Fig.5-4, of Copperwood Resources' proposed Part 632 mining permit amendment.

"I have commented publicly on this issue in the past," Welker told Keweenaw Now recently.  "My biggest concern is the scale of the tailings basin and the lack of a spelled-out 'worst case scenario,' should the tailings basin fail. Our 'new climate normal' will likely feature more intense rainfalls than the model the company is using to project tailings basin-related safety."

Because of the impacts to wetlands and the re-routing of streams planned for the construction of the TDF, the Part 315 permit is related to other DEQ Water Resources permits.

On July 17, 2018, a public hearing was held at Gogebic Community College on the renewal of Copperwood's permit application for Part 301, Inland Lakes Streams; Part 303, Wetland Protection; and Part 325, Great Lakes Submerged Lands.

James Caron of DEQ Water Resources, who chaired the July 17 public hearing, said about 66 people attended the hearing and most of those who made comments were in favor of granting those permits. Only one person spoke in opposition -- Chuck Brumleve, environmental mining specialist for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), who presented the tribe's opposition to the application.

Brumleve told Keweenaw Now he was surprised to be the only person expressing environmental concerns at the hearing. He noted the local government representatives who spoke were all in favor of Copperwood's project.

Native Americans' objections to Copperwood plans

According to Brumleve, the tribe is presenting several objections to Copperwood's present project. Here are a few of their concerns:

-- They object to the fact that the company plans to store all the tailings on the surface rather than backfilling the mine with at least some of the tailings so that the size of the TDF, wetland impacts and stream diversions could be reduced -- thus reducing the height of the TDF and its visual, aesthetic impacts as well (presently DEQ officials admit that, should the TDF reach the anticipated height of 130 feet, it would be visible from the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park). Backfilling is a well established technology for this type of underground mine and was even recommended by the mining company's consultant in 2012.

-- Another possibility for reducing the size of the TDF, reducing the wetland fill, and possibly avoiding stream diversion (apparently not included in the company's plans) would be to transport tailings from the Copperwood Mine to the White Pine tailings basin.

-- The tribe has also cited studies that question the company's claim that the streams and wetlands are not connected to groundwater. They note the company has not heeded warnings from experts, made in comments in 2012, that contaminated mine water could discharge from the underground mine workings to the surface.

-- The proposed water intake from Lake Superior raises concerns about tribal treaty rights, since the mine and the intake are located within the 1842 Ceded Territory. Potential impacts on treaty-guaranteed tribal fishingand nearby spawning areas should be studied before permits are granted.

Today, July 26, is the DEQ's extended comment deadline for the Part 301, Part 303 and Part 325 permit.**

Public comments on Part 315 application due by Aug. 1, 2018

The public may submit comments on this Part 315 application by 5 p.m. on Aug. 1, 2018. Written comments will be made part of the record and should reference the application number HNE-DAD2-17YT1. Objections must be factual, specific, and fully describe the reasons upon which any objection is founded. Unless a written request is filed with the DEQ within the 20-day public comment period (which began July 12, 2018) the DEQ may make a decision on the application without a public hearing. The determination as to whether a permit will be issued or a public hearing held will be based on an evaluation of all relevant factors, including the public comments received and the effect of the proposed work on the public trust or interest, including navigation, fish, wildlife, and pollution.***

Asked why only two documents concerning the Part 315 application are available on the DEQ's MI Waters Web site (the Public Notice and the Joint Permit Application Form), Pawloski said the other documents are too large for the Internet system.

"We've decided to make documents available upon request," he told Keweenaw Now.

The entire copy of the public notice package may be requested by calling 989-731-4920 or may be viewed at the DEQ Water Resources Division Gaylord Field Office, 2100 M-32, Gaylord, Michigan 49735. Written comments may be mailed to this office and must be received by 5 p.m. on Aug. 1, 2018. To comment on line, click here to download, from the MI Waters Web site, the complete Public Notice (PN Copperwood Mine) and the Joint Permit Application Form (DEQ and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). Click on Add Comment to submit comments. You may also comment by email to Jim Pawloski at pawloskij@michigan.gov; however, comments on line through MI Waters are preferable.

Notes:

* See the Joint Permit Application Form (DEQ and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), pp. 1-3. Click here to download this Application Form.

** See our July 13, 2018, article, "UPDATED: MDEQ to hold public meeting/hearing on proposed Copperwood mining permit amendment, water permit updates."

*** See the Public Notice (PN Copperwood Mine). Click here to download it.

Friday, July 20, 2018

From Michigan Tech News: Michigan Tech Delivers Line 5 Risk Analysis Draft Report to State

Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC). Guy Meadows, GLRC director, led the team of 41 researchers who conducted an independent risk analysis of Enbridge’s two Line 5 pipelines beneath the Straits of Mackinac. Their draft report details nine different worst-case scenarios and outlines impacts for each. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

By Stefanie Sidortsova *
Published July 19, 2018, on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted here with permission


In a draft report submitted this week to the State of Michigan, a team of experts evaluates the economic, environmental and cultural impacts of a "worst case scenario" spill or release from the Straits Pipelines.

Led by Michigan Technological University’s Guy Meadows, 41 researchers conducted an independent risk analysis of the two parallel, 20-inch pipelines that form the 4.5-mile section of Enbridge’s Line 5 that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac. The draft report details nine different worst-case scenarios and outlines impacts for each.

"I am proud of the way in which our universities have come together to provide a fact based analysis of a very complex problem, under an extremely tight time frame," Meadows said. "In conducting this work, we have also advanced knowledge about the fate and transport of oil in freshwater." **

Meadows is the Robbins Professor of Sustainable Marine Engineering and director of the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Tech. The Agency for Energy (MAE), Attorney General’s Office (AG), Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) contracted with Michigan Tech for the risk analysis report.

The risk analysis team included 21 researchers from Michigan Tech and 20 from external organizations. Nine universities contributed to the analysis, seven of which are within the state of Michigan: Michigan Tech, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University and Oakland University. The two out-of-state universities are North Dakota State University and Loyola University Chicago.

When and How

In keeping with the scope of work published by the State, the researchers completed the following tasks:
  • Identifying and analyzing the duration and magnitude of a "worst case" spill or release of oil or other products from the Straits Pipelines into the environment.
  • Analyzing the likely environmental fate and transport of oil or other products released from the Straits Pipelines in a worst-case scenario.
  • Analyzing how long it would take to contain and clean up the worst-case release.
  • Analyzing the short- and long-term public health and safety impacts.
  • Analyzing the short- and long-term ecological impacts.
  • Analyzing potential measures to restore the affected natural resources and mitigate the ecological impacts.
  • Estimating the amount of natural resource damages that would result from a worst-case release.
  • Estimating the governmental costs that would be incurred as a result of a worst-case release.
  • Estimating all other economic damages, public and private, that would result from a worst-case release.
Members of the team also assessed what the report calls broader impacts of a worst-case scenario spill to assess the perceived risks and concerns expressed by local communities, civil society groups, indigenous communities, governmental agencies and the public at large.

Because no oil spill as large as the scenarios analyzed in the report has ever occurred in the waters of the Great Lakes, researchers reviewed a selection of other events as analogs to evaluate the potential impacts of a Straits spill. They based their approach on an accumulation of worst-case assumptions that were consistent with the federal definition of "the largest foreseeable discharge of oil," found in Title 40, section 194.5 of the Federal Code of Regulations, to determine the maximum possible volume that could be released.

By definition, the worst-case spill size is much larger than would be expected under average or typical conditions. According to the draft report, the impacts of a spill depend on when it occurs and how meteorological conditions disperse the oil. Researchers conducted a total of 4,380 oil dispersal simulations over a one-year period of meteorological, water current and ice cover conditions that are representative of seasonal conditions in the Straits. Previous hydrodynamic modeling capabilities for the Straits were updated in this assessment to include wind transport of oil, ice-cover conditions and potential effects on oil dispersal and evaporation.

The definition of a worst-case scenario also varies depending on which impacts are being assessed. For example, a winter spill would be the most difficult to respond to safely and effectively, while a spill that occurred in the spring would generate the highest economic costs. To represent this range, a total of nine scenarios were analyzed as potential worst cases for different tasks. The spring scenario is used as the representative scenario to estimate the overall liability from a worst-case scenario spill at the Straits because a spill at that time of year, just prior to the summer tourism season in the Straits, would have the largest impact overall.

The report also considers various modes of failure for the Straits Pipelines and separates these failures into five tiers. Under this model, discharge amounts range from 4,400 barrels of oil (bbl) to 58,000 bbl. Each bbl contains 42 U.S. gallons.

Next Steps

Now that the draft analysis has been submitted, the public will have 30 days to comment on the report.*** The deadline for comments is Saturday, August 18. The risk analysis team will hold a public presentation on the draft report at 6 p.m. on Monday, August 13, 2018, at the Boyne Highlands Convention Center in Harbor Springs, Michigan. When the public comment period closes, and after responding to public and State input on the draft, the team will prepare a final report to be delivered by September 15, 2018.

When the final report is issued, the State will require Enbridge Energy Limited Partners, which owns and operates Line 5, to maintain an adequate financial assurance mechanism to cover liability for all damages or losses to public and private property in the event of a worst-case scenario. The State has the authority to do so under the 1953 easement that granted permission for pipeline construction. The draft report is to date the most comprehensive cost estimate of such a worst case scenario.

The risk analysis will be paid for by funds in an escrow account the State controls and which was set up in August 2016. The funds were provided by Enbridge, but the company has no say in how the money is spent or in the findings of the independent report.

Editor's Notes:

* Stefanie Sidortsova, author of this article, leads Michigan Tech's communications strategy and serves as a special assistant for state relations endeavors. Her professional background includes experience in law, government relations, higher education administration, and creative writing. (Inset photo of Stefanie Sidortsova courtesy Michigan Tech University)

** In addition to his role as Great Lakes Research Center Director, Guy Meadows is Michigan Tech adjunct professor in Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences and research professor in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. Before coming to Michigan Tech in 2012 to help establish the Great Lakes Research Center, he served as professor of Physical Oceanography for 35 years. Click here for his biography. (Inset photo of Guy Meadows courtesy Michigan Tech University)

*** A link for posting comments is at the top of the report.