Wed September 11, 2013
Wisconsin Groups Weigh In On Great Lakes Cleanup
Groups from Wisconsin are trying to help shape scientific studies and action plans for cleaning up the Great Lakes.
The U.S. and Canada recently updated the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The International Joint Commission is taking comments on what scientific studies are needed to assess problems on the lakes, and what action plans to pursue over the next few years.
During a hearing at the Great Lakes Week conference in Milwaukee, Jane Elder of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters said, “Don't forget some older chemicals.” Elder says compounds like PCBs, which were around when the water agreement was last amended in 1987, are still found in places like lake sediment. “Anything that was well-known to be a toxic substance in 1987 is probably still toxic today,” Elder said. “The question, of course, is distribution in the lakes, concentration and level of threat. I would urge those working on the new list to start with the old list ... and basically grandfather that into the strategy.”
Elder also wants attention paid to airborne pollutants that fall into the lakes.
Susan Michetti, of the state chapter of the Sierra Club, urges a closer look at a specific problem in Lake Superior: old barrels full of munitions. “This needs urgent priority, fast tracking. It needs to be cleaned up: we need best scientific management practices identified.”
Other speakers called for a study of road salt pollution in the Great Lakes, and potential threats from radioactivity. The EPA and Environment Canada say a more detailed study and action plan will be released early next year.