The Superior Watershed Partnership (SWP) held its first town hall meeting introducing the new Community Environmental Monitoring Program, or CEMP. It's an independent program that will monitor the environmental impact of Rio Tinto's Eagle Mine and Mill.
This was one of several forums the Watershed Partnership is hosting to inform people about the new program.
The people who showed up were mainly concerned with how the SWP is going to monitor the surrounding environment and keep residents informed of their findings. People are worried about the impact the Humboldt Mills and the Eagle Mine will have on the environment.
"What happens to the community, what happens to my customers is important to the business. The success of Humboldt Township is my vested interest," said James Douglas, business owner.
In October, Rio Tinto agreed to pay $300,000 to the SWP to conduct their own independent studies. They will study the land, water, wildlife, and air quality surrounding the areas of the Eagle Mine and mills. The SWP is going to make sure Rio Tinto is complying with the requirements of their permit and will conduct random sampling of the environment for testing.
"To reassure the community that the mine is operating safely for protecting the environment or, if it's not, to identify the problems early on and make sure that they are fixed," said Jerry Maynard, Superior Watershed Partnership.
To ensure complete independence from Rio Tinto, a community foundation will oversee the funding that the SWP will receive for the studies.
It's going to be a five member committee. So far, they have four members who are: Dr. Nancy Wiseman Seminoff, Lawrence Carey, Richard Aho, Pam Christensen. They still need someone from Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. They will begin working together next week.
Monitoring will continue throughout the life of the mine and two years after its closure.
All of the results from the studies will be published online quarterly for the public to view.
"They are a conscious group. They are concerned about doing their job properly and will not be a yes group for the company," James Douglas said.
The actual environmental monitoring will begin next year.
They will be conducting three more town hall meetings to inform the public about the program this week:
Tuesday, December 4, 7-8 p.m. at Powell Township School - 101 Deutsch Ave, Big Bay
Wednesday, December 5, 7-8 p.m. at Baraga Best Western Hotel - 900 US 41, Baraga
Thursday, December 6, 7-8 p.m. at Lakeview Arena - 401 E. Fair Ave, Marquette
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