Officials with the U.S. EPA have announced new regulations that willban so-called ”mixing zones” from Great Lakes waters. The Great LakesRadio Consortium’s Dale Willman reports:
Officials with the U.S. EPA have announced new regulations that will ban
so-called “mixing zones” from Great Lakes waters. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Dale Willman reports.
A mixing zone is the area of water around a discharge pipe. It was once
thought that chemicals could be released into these zones at a higher
concentration than normally permitted, because those chemicals would be
quickly diluted in the surrounding water. But scientists now say that isn’t
always what happens. The ban was announced by EPA Assistant Administrator
“This ban will eliminate up to seven hundred thousand toxic pounds of chemicals
pumped into the Great Lakes each year. Mercury discharges alone will be reduced by 90
Most of the Great Lakes states will not be affected by the rule, because
they already ban the zones. The three that don’t have such a ban… New York,
Ohio and Pennsylvania will be given 18 months to come into compliance.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Dale Willman.
The invasion of the sea lamprey wreaked havoc on a once thriving GreatLakes fishery. For years, chemicals have been used to reduce thelamprey population, but now researchers are experimenting with somethingmuch less toxic. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Mark Brush reports:
The invasion of the sea lamprey wreaked havoc on
a once thriving Great Lakes fishery. For years
chemicals have been used to reduce the lamprey
population, but now researchers are experimenting
with something much less toxic. The Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Mark Brush reports.
Pheromones are essentially smells that carry a
message… like where to find a mate, where to find
food, or directions to potential a spawning ground.
Doctors Peter Sorensen and Weiming Li are using
pheromones from sea lampreys in an effort to
control where they go.
Sorensen says the promising thing about using
pheromones is that the pheromones are extremely
“So it’s extremely effective at low concentration –
it’s extremely specific – it would only be expected
to affect lamprey it’s safe – easily licensed – and
should once developed be relatively easy and safe to
deploy, so there’s a lot to be said for using
If successful, Sorensen hopes the pheromones can
eventually be used to control the lamprey
population in the Great Lakes.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Mark
Last month (October), Toronto announced that it was backing out of aplan to dump its garbage in an abandoned open pit mine in NorthernOntario. Environmentalists thought they’d won a decade long battle toprotect communities from being dumped on by Canada’s largest city. Butthey were shocked when Toronto officials decided to ship the garbage toMichigan instead. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator SuzanneElston wonders why one community’s victory has to be another community’sdefeat:
Last month, Toronto announced that it was backing out of a plan to
dump its garbage in an abandoned open pit mine in Northern Ontario.
Environmentalists thought they’d won a decade long battle to protect
communities from being dumped on by Canada’s largest city. But they
were shocked when Toronto officials decided to ship the garbage to
Michigan instead. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne
Elston wonders why one community’s victory has to be another
They literally danced in the streets. After 10 years of fighting,
they won on a technicality. Toronto City Council had agreed to ship
more than a million tons of garbage by rail to the Adams Mine every
year and dump it. Despite the economic boom that the plan could have
provided for the economically depressed area, people fought it. And
with good reason. The abandoned open pit mine is at the headwaters of
a number of river systems. Without any clay liner, the garbage could
have contaminated groundwater for hundreds of miles.
But Toronto officials were determined to go ahead until they tried to
finalize the details of the contract. When the dump owner, Rail Cycle
North, failed to accept all liability for unforeseen cost increases,
the city pulled out of the deal.
Throughout the decade long process, environmentalists have argued
that dumping on Toronto’s neighbors wasn’t the solution. They said
that aggressive waste reduction and recycling programs were a better
answer. But immediately after the Adams Mine announcement, officials
named Michigan as the city’s next best choice for dumping its trash.
Michigan already receives 500,000 tons of Toronto’s industrial and
commercial wastes every year.
The decision has enraged environmentalists on both sides of the
Canada/U.S. border. And so now Toronto’s Mayor, Mel Lastman, wants us
to believe that he’s finally got the message. Lastman has promised
that if he’s re-elected, he’ll personally head up a waste reduction
I smell a rat, a really big garbage rat. The greatest selling point
of the Adams Mine proposal was that Toronto wasn’t required to
guarantee the volume of garbage they were dumping. What this meant
was that the city could increase its recycling efforts, and not have
to pay any penalties to Rail Cycle North. With the Michigan contract,
Toronto will have to agree to ship a minimum amount of garbage, or
face increased costs. This will probably stop any significant
reduction programs before they even get off the ground.
What I still don’t understand is why one environmental victory has to
become a defeat for someplace else. Toronto should be shamed into
taking care of its own problems instead of dumping them on another
community or another country.
If city officials thought the Michigan decision would at least get
the Adams Mine folks off their backs, they were wrong. Northern
activists have gone on record stating that this latest plan is a bad
one and they’ve begun working with Michigan environmentalists to stop
it. Given how physically, emotionally and financially exhausted they
were after their own battle, this support is quite remarkable. I keep
hoping that the folks at Toronto’s City Hall might learn from their
example that we all have to work together to solve our garbage
A group of scientists has given freshwater bodies, including the GreatLakes, a physical. The patient appears to be in some trouble. A reportfrom the World Resources Institute says many of the world’s freshwaterspecies have become extinct, threatened or endangered in recentdecades. The report was released recently at a gathering ofenvironmental journalists. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s ChuckQuirmbach has the story:
A group of scientists has given freshwater bodies, including the Great Lakes, a physical.
And the patient appears to be in some trouble. A report from the World Resources
Institute says many of the world’s freshwater species have become extinct, threatened or
endangered in recent decades. The report was released recently at a gathering of
environmental journalists. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach has
Jonathan Lash is president of the Washington, DC based World Resources Institute. A
distinguished looking man, with slightly graying hair, lash says that as he
gets older, he’s more and more feeling his age.
“I’ve reached the point at age 55
,…where I wake up every morning and something probably hurts. in
fact I have a friend who says if you wake up in the morning and
nothing hurts, you’re probably dead.”(laughter)
Lash says he usually does little about the pain…and doesn’t
rush in for a physical exam. He worries that too many people have the same
attitude about the earth.
“It wakes up every morning and there are a lotta things that hurt but we’re just kinda used
to it…and we rarely take a look at the whole.”
But lash’s group has begun to look at the big picture. The institute recently released the
beginning of a series of reports that lash calls the first comprehensive assessment of the
world’s ecosystems. The initial study is of freshwater bodies. It says in the US, about one
third of freshwater species of fish, two thirds of mussels, half the crayfish and forty
percent of amphibians have become threatened or extinct in recent decades. Some of the
harmed species are in the Great Lakes or Mississippi River. They include lake trout, a
fish called the cisco and the winged maple leaf clam. Study author Carmen Revenga says
one reason for the decline is nutrient-laden runoff from farms.
“You get this very thick layer of water with no oxygen. So fish and plants
and things suffer from that so basically for people in area affects water quality,
recreational opportunities fishing and biodiversity for people who value biodiversity just
because it’s there.”
Not everyone agrees with the report’s conclusions. The nation’s largest agriculture group
doesn’t care for the focus on farm pollution. The suburban Chicago based American Farm
Bureau argues farmers are doing better at curbing contaminated runoff. The bureau says
there’s now more efficient use of nitrogen based fertilizer. Then when the growing
season is over the group says farmers are doing less plowing. Water specialist Jim
Porterfield says not exposing the soil and instead leaving more corn stalks and soybean
stubble on top of the fields reduces nutrient erosion.
“A clear trend there..in fact, farmers have probably changed the color of the earth
out there…because of their practices. It’s changed from black to golden brown during the
fall, winter and spring months.”
Porterfield says farmers could be doing even better. But he says there is no magic bullet.
The world resources institute agrees. But researcher Carmen Revenga says runoff could
also be cut by wiser use of water.
“In the US in general and maybe the great lakes
people are just used to cheap prices and using a lot of it
so…obviously reducing water consumption..specially in ag
section with more efficient use of irrigation
Revenga however isn’t only pointing fingers at farmers. she says
homeowners need to cut back on lawn sprinklers and fertilizers.
she also warns that another big threat to native great lakes species has maybe grown
beyond human control. That’s the rise of invasive species like the zebra mussel. any
cleanup efforts that are tried may be expensive. But Revenga and others say spending
money and time ARE worth it. The new report places the global value of freshwater
systems in the trillions of dollars.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Chuck Quirmbach reporting.
Flatwater paddling is a way of life in the Great Lakes, from Minnesotato New York. Each fall, hundreds of canoe enthusiasts gather from allover the region for Fall’s last big race: New York’s 90 Mile CanoeClassic. For the first time this year, eight women decided to formtheir own war canoe team, challenging the men’s champion teamhead-to-head. As the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Brian Mann reports,their three-day journey was as much about friendship as it was aboutmaking time:
Flatwater paddling is a way of life in the Great Lakes, from Minnesota
to New York. Each fall, hundreds of canoe enthusiasts gather from all
over the region for Fall’s last big race: New York’s 90 Mile Canoe
Classic. For the first time this year, eight women decided to form
their own war canoe team, challenging the men’s champion team
head-to-head. As the Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Brian Mann reports, their three-
day journey was as much about friendship as it was about making time.
(Ambient bed: door opens, party sounds)
It’s late on a Thursday evening – the night before the 90 mile race gets
underway – and folks are gathering at the home of Beth and Dan Tickner
in Old Forge, New York.
“Welcome, did you eat?”
“Yes, I sure did.”
“Alright, nice to
see you. Let me move the baby out of the way.”
People are having fun, but the mood here is a little tense. This year,
Dan and Beth are racing in separate war canoes. Beth has teamed up with
an old friend, Grace McDonnell, to build the first all-women war canoe
“We’re eight women who are completely athletic and totally
competitive, but our main objective is to have fun.”
“Isn’t that awesome on the car.”
(Outdoor Ambient Noise)
It’s after nine o’clock, when Grace arrives at the Tickner’s with the
war canoe strapped on top of her mini-van. The boat is enormous – 26
feet long – and beautiful. War canoes are a tradition in the Northeast.
The earliest models, made of hide and bark, were used throughout the
Great Lakes by Indians and French Canadian trappers. In this century,
aluminum war canoes have been a favorite for kids at the region’s summer
This boat isn’t aluminum. It’s state-of-the-art, cedar wood strips
coated with layers of fiberglass.
“I better take my high heel sandals off.”
“Yeah, you better.”
As the women gather around to lift the war canoe, their flashlights
gleam and spark against its side.
“Okay, back up. Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!”
Forming an all-women’s war canoe team is an idea that first started
brewing a decade ago, Grace says, when she and Beth crewed together in a
“Both of us had small kids and nursing and mothering, so we
put it off until the year 2000. And so, here it is, the year 2000.”
The women are a new team. This is their first race together and they’ve
only practiced a couple of times, but their canoe is built for speed.
For all its length, this boat weighs only 160 pounds.
“One of our competition, who is also Beth’s husband, has a
war canoe that weighs, they estimate, about 350 pounds. So we have an
“They’re scared. They’re really scared. Our boat is
definitely faster, but they’re great guys and we know it’s going to be a
tremendous amount of fun and a great race.”
“Hi, how you doing, kiddos?”
It’s Friday morning. Race day. The public beach at Old Forge is packed
with boats and racers and hundreds of fans who’ve turned out for the
spectacle. Grace’s daughter Jen wears pigtails and a ballcap turned
backwards on her head. Though just seventeen years old, this will be
her third 90 mile race.
“I think it’s going to be even more fun, because then
there’s six people to chat and giggle and laugh with and then yell and
“This is like the family station wagon and they’ve got the
Dan Tickner is Beth’s husband. This will be his twelfth Canoe Classic.
One year, he ran the race in a guideboat with Beth as his passenger.
She was 8 months pregnant at the time. But over the next three days,
they’ll go head-to-head.
“It’s more fun, but I’d have a hard time living with a
wife who beat me in a war canoe, eight women against eight men. So
we’re looking for first place.”
“Good luck, guys.” “Hey, good luck!” Whoo-whoo-whoo!”
(Paddling and boating ambience)
With that, the eight women are off. They lean and dig at the water in
tandem, forcing their boat into motion. The four war canoes spread out
over the water, churning north and east. In addition to the long
stretches they’ll travel on lakes and rivers, their war canoe will have
to go over-land for miles, the boat and gear carried on their shoulders.
(Splashing feet at carry ambience)
A few hours later, the women have reached one of the dozen or so
portages that divide the 90-miler.
(Ambient voices gasping and cheering)
“Got it. Ready, set, go!”
If this is a story about a race, it’s also a story about friendship –
these eight friends working and struggling together.
“Everybody breathe! Hoah! Whoo hoo hoo!”
The crowds love it. The weather is perfect. People turn out at each of
the carries to cheer the women on.
(Cheering and thrashing water ambience)
The women’s team does well the first day and as they head into day two,
they’re running in second place, hard behind the men’s team. Brian
Vanderlinder from is a veteran in the men’s war canoe, one of the crew
that powered to victory last year.
“We got some meat in the boat. We got some guys in the
boat who can pull and some experience. But you can’t take anything away
from the other boats. They’re all good.”
“Straight in! Straight in!”
The men are all-business as they continue to press their lead into the
third day. The women manage to hold their second-place spot against a
strong challenge. It’s mid-day on Sunday, when their canoe pulls into
view in Saranac Lake, New York, still grinding hard for the finish line:
(Loudspeaker: “Approaching the finish line, it’s the
women’s war canoe. Great job, ladies. Give it up for them.” Cheering)
“It was awesome, the three days. It was really
great.” “Everyone just kind of fell in and had their own place and had
their things to say and just did it.” “We didn’t get in any fights. We
just did our best and pushed ourselves to the limit.”
The women look weary but well-pleased with their time. They made the 90
mile journey in twelve hours and forty-two minutes – averaging a speed
of more than seven miles per hour over three days. That’s roughly 26
minutes behind the men’s team, not bad for a first crack at the reigning
champions, and a sure promise of things to come.
(Ambience of splashing and cheering)
“I’m out, I’m out.” (splashing)!
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Brian Mann in New York.
Environmentalists constructed a puppet of
Michigan Governor John Engler to protest the importation of Canadian
garbage. The environmentalists and their puppet were protesting at the
base of the Ambassador Bridge on the U.S./Canadian border. (photo by Jeff Gearhart)
In the Great Lakes region, trash is big business. Many states havemore landfill space than they need – and they fill it with garbage fromother states and Canada. It’s not the kind of industry most people wantin their backyard. Which is why it may come as a surprise that oneMichigan town is welcoming garbage from Toronto. A plan to bury it inOntario met with strong opposition. But rural residents south of theborder say there are benefits to taking other people’s trash. The GreatLakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports:
In the Great Lakes region, trash is big business. Many states have more
landfill space than they need – and they fill it with garbage from
other states and Canada. In 1997 alone, the Congressional Research Service
found: Michigan imported 1.7 million tons of garbage. Wisconsin imported 1.1
million tons of garbage. Pennsylvania imported 6.3 million tons of garbage.
New York imported 159 thousand tons of garbage and
exported 3.7 million tons. Ohio imported 1 million tons of garbage.
Illinois imported 1.3 million tons of garbage.
Indiana imported 2.1 million tons of garbage. Minnesota had no imports.
It’s not the kind of industry most people want in
their backyard. Which is why it may come as a surprise that one
Michigan town is welcoming garbage from Toronto.
A plan to bury it in Ontario met with strong
opposition. But rural residents south of the border say there are
benefits to taking other people’s trash. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s
Karen Kelly reports:
Sumpter Township is about 20 miles southwest of
Detroit. It used to be farming country – but only a few farms
remain. Now, many of the 12 thousand residents are factory
workers in the auto industry. Marvin Benoti is the township supervisor.
He says the community struggled for years because
there was no industry to support local services like
sewers and police.
“It’s a nice area and stuff like that. The whole thing is we couldn’t
really do anything because we had a budget of less than 900 thousand
dollars to run the township on.”
But that changed when the Carleton Farms landfill
opened in 1993. The township’s budget increased to 2.5 million dollars
a year, thanks to the taxes and royalties paid by the
landfill’s owner. Soon, new water and sewer lines were installed.
Police officers were hired and a new firehouse was
built. As a result, Benoti says there hasn’t been much
concern about the plan to take Toronto’s garbage.
That’s in stark contrast to the protests that took
place in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. Toronto planned to dump its
garbage in an abandoned iron mine there.
But residents and environmentalists argued the mine
would leak and pollute the groundwater. So, Toronto looked south,
and signed a deal with Republic Services, Inc. to send 600 hundred thousand
tons of garbage to Sumpter Township over the next two
years. The company says that amount will likely increase.
But Benoti says most residents feel garbage is garbage, regardless
of where it’s from.
“It’s, you know, garbage that people used to go and put right
behind their house and dig holes and bury and stuff like that.
It’s something that people in rural areas used to do and probably up north do
But environmentalists in Michigan are not as accepting
of the deal. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that states can’t
prevent companies from bringing garbage across the border to put in
existing landfills. But opponents say the states can stop the building
of landfills that the residents don’t need. Mike Garfield is the
director of the Ecology Center, an environmental group in Ann Arbor,
Michigan – not far from where the dump operates. He worries the landfill
business is harming recycling programs.
“It’s not just that we’re being dumped on. It’s
the fact that landfilling is too common and recycling
is a better solution. We’d like to see cities across
the region, in Toronto, in Michigan, in other states
in the Great Lakes all adopt aggressive recycling
But rural communities like Sumpter Township depend on
the landfills. Their tax revenues have built community centers, sewer
systems and roads. Still, Garfield says it’s shortsighted for rural towns
to welcome these companies.
“A little money doesn’t make up for the big problems that these
communities face cleaning up groundwater pollution, dealing with enormous
truck traffic and dealing with the smell and nuisance of a
major landfill disposal site in their town.”
Marvin Benoti of Sumpter Township says the landfill
wasn’t their first choice for local industry. But he hopes the
newly paved roads and free garbage pickup will attract other companies.
He says that’s the only way people in these towns will
see a future beyond the landfill. For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Karen Kelly.