Dedicated to the restoration and preservation of this Great Lake
Update on the fiber control issue
By LeRoger Lind, SLSA president
As reported in our Fall-2007 newsletter, the Minnesota Federal District Court heard arguments for
and against Northshore Mining Company's motion to eliminate the asbestos fiber limit from its air
emission permit for the Silver Bay, MN taconite processing plant.
Judge Paul Magnuson rejected the motion in a decision rendered on 12/20/07. The control city
standard established as a part of the landmark 1975 Reserve Mining case remains intact and an
integral part of the Title V air emission permit issued by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for
Although the decision may be appealed, the way for the resumption of the citizen's suit against the
company has been cleared. Our suit asks the court to order Northshore to comply with the ambient
air, asbestos fiber concentration limit.
Despite our objections, the hearing of our complaint was delayed in order for the court to hear the
mining company's motion.
In a parallel action, the MPCA has noti¬fied Northshore that the air permit will be reopened and a
numeric value for the control city standard fiber limit inserted to clarify the permit language.
SLSA supports this action as a necessary step in the enforcement of the control city standard.
Our legal team played a significant role in supporting this outcome.
Members should be aware that the asbestos fiber case is separate from the VHS fish virus case and
it will not be financed
with your contributions to the VHS cause. We will, however, continue to accept contributions
designated for the VHS legal fund as well as those directed to the legal work on the asbestos suit
against Northshore Mining. We do the best we can to protect Lake Superior with our limited
VHS Fish Virus Project
SLSA and the Izaak Walton League of America
are making progress in action to force the Coast
Guard and USDA to protect Lake Superior from
the fish-killing virus.
They are legally mandated to prohibit the use of
infected waters for ship's ballast and to prevent
its transport across state lines and international
No action has been taken effectively to enforce these regulations. We are asking that ballast water be
treated, preferably before ships enter Lake Superior. This would kill not only the VHS, but most other
aquatic invasive species.
The use of standard wastewater chlorination has been shown to be safe, effective and inexpensive.
Installation and operation of such equipment should be part of the legal requirement for admission to
Lake Superior waters by both foreign and domestic ships.
Our attorneys have prepared a complaint to be filed in federal court to require preventive action.
In our opinion, the effort by the Seaway Development corporation's proposed solution by making
ocean ships exchange their ballast when 200 miles offshore would fall far short of solving the critical
Tree estrogens causing sex changes in minnows?
There is no conclusive evidence that paper processing effluent is the culprit in causing fathead
minnows to develop female characteristics, but the natural chemical is now under suspicion.
A University of Minnesota experiment placed normal minnows in a solution of 100 % sewage from
WLSSD. The effects of endocrine-disrupting elements in the waste water were obvious; the males
began producing a protein like the female of the species when forming eggs, the gonads began to
shrink and they lost their instinctive drive to mate, protect their nests or drive off other males.
The females also reacted to exposure to compounds in the sewage. After two weeks in that foul
environment they permanently quit reproducing.
The relative impact on minnows in diluted sewage at various distances from the plant's outflow has
yet to be determined.
Researchers have long been aware of similar effects on fish from the disposal of endocrine-
disrupting drugs such a birth control pills released by humans into the environment, but only recently
did plant estrogens come under scrutiny as a mimic compound.
The researchers said it's possible that the plant estrogen, genistein, is affecting fatheads in the St.
Louis River but are not yet prepared to make that claim pending further research.
Safe Eating Guidelines for Native Fish
The DNR once issued updated fish consumption data for the general public but ceased doing so in
recent years. Limited in numbers, though helpful, the Minnesota Department of Health and the Fond
du Lac's Reservation have taken on this "public service.
Fish caught in Minnesota:
Panfish (sunfish, crappies) perch, and bullheads can be eaten in unlimited amounts.
All other species—1 meal per week.
For pregnant women and children under age 15:
Panfish — one meal per week. Walleyes shorter than 20 inches, northern pike shorter than 30, all
sizes of other species: 1 meal per month.
Walleyes longer than 20 inches and northern pike longer than 30 inches and all muskellunge: DO
The Save Lake Superior Association's Oral History Project
Two years ago the Board set a goal of getting taped recollections from people who were directly
involved in the formative years of SLSA. Toward that end we chose Nancy S. Nelson of Duluth to visit
our designated subjects to learn how they were moved to action when major threats to Lake Superior
Providing guidance for future generations in forming grassroots organizations focusing on the
protection of Lake Superior is another of our goals.
Those interviewed— seven men and one woman—speak of their efforts to make governments act on
environmental issues and they relate how citizen's groups can effectively influence government and
All spoke candidly and addressed not only SLSA's outstanding victories but also of its failures and of
the frustrations they faced.
The interviews vary in length from 20 minutes to 77 minutes duration (the late John Pegors had a lot
to say) and are collectively on a CD in MP3 files.
The files can be transferred to a set of regular compact discs and the contents to be transcribed later
in a written format. All materials are copyrighted, but are available at the Northeast Minnesota History
Center on the University of Minnesota-Duluth Campus.
We wish to acknowledge the generous donation to the Save Lake Superior Association
in memory of Norman Hill!
Check us out on line
Our quarterly newsletter is now available on our website!
To access, go to www.savelakesuperior.org This information-packed page has quickly become the
most visited page on our site, color graphics and links to more information are just a few of the
exciting editions to the digital format. This web-based format makes it easy to "spread the word" with
family, friends and acquaintances relating to the celebrations and challenges facing our beloved lake.
If you would like to receive e-mail notification of each newsletter posting, please e-mail us at
www.savelakesuperior.org now utilizes Google Earth technology
to portray historical, current and future threats to Lake Superior.
Google Earth is a map like you've never seen. It's a 3D model of
the real earth, based on actual satellite images combined with
maps, topography, guides to environmental and humanitarian
issues (even guides to restaurants and hotels) and more.
You can zoom from outer space to street level instantly and then
pan or jump from place to place, city to city, even country to country.
It's a free download and the software is entirely free of advertising
and spam. A download is available on our website which contains
Lake Superior-specific issues. This file will be updated periodically
and users will need to download the update to view the changes.
Put the world in perspective.
What new invasive critters may turn up in 2008?
As I look out from my window on the frozen St. Louis Bay I can't help wondering what yet undetected
species of marine life will likely be discovered in this new year. It was only two years ago this winter
that the EPA announced the appearance of the quagga mussel.
The single specimen from the Bay led to the false hope that it had come alone, probably as a minute
larva, and squeezed through the screen when a ship's ballast water was discharged. A year after the
initial discovery of the thumbnail-sized pest, further testing by the EPA and Minnesota Sea Grant
proved the quagga was not an orphan. There were plenty more in various locations within the Duluth-
Superior Harbor. Like its troublesome relative, the zebra mussel, quaggas are filter feeders. This
sounds innocent enough but the problem lies in the fact that they accumulate pollutants. These toxins
are then passed up the food chain.
It's too soon to know what impact they will have on the local fish populations but the food web of Lake
Huron underwent fishery changes when quaggas multiplied to "explosive" numbers in that Great
Consider this: A new invasive species in brought into the Great Lakes every eight months. Two-thirds
of Great Lakes coastal wetlands have been lost and with them went the loss of their biodiversity,
including the extinctions of several Great Lakes species.
A bit of good news (for a change.)
Minnesota Sea Grant has documented an apparent decrease in the spread of the spiny waterflea.
This non-native is no longer seen in Boulder or Fish lakes in the Duluth area.
This doesn't mean it has disappeared from all other infested lakes of the region. Sea Grant says it
continues to spread with the water flowing along the international border. Researcher Donn
Branstrator said the welcomed absence could be the result of fish predation and the lack of new
introductions due to public education efforts.
How much is too little?
For most of us, budget figures are boring and often confusing. But the 2008 federal budget as it
relates to Great Lakes appropriations is one thing we must keep our eye on.
The Great Lakes Coalition recommended that $1.35 Billion dollars be allocated for the Clean Water
State Revolving Fund. The money is needed to end the dumping of sewage in the Great Lakes by
upgrading aging water infrastructure. President Bush's request was for just $688 Million.
The Great Lakes Legacy Act funding to clean up toxic sediments in polluted harbors and rivers should
be $54 Million according to the Coalition. Mr. Bush thought $35 Million would be enough.
He also felt that $16 Million was too much for the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act. He
suggests that be cut to $1.27 Million!
The lake level is up...but not high enough!
We may have seen the end of the year-long drought, thanks to above normal rain and snowfall in
We are, as of mid-January, six inches ahead of last year but still have a deficit of eleven inches
according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Pray for a lot more snow and spring rain.
This is a great time to join in the Canadian-inspired project that monitors the status of birds and
amphibians in the Great Lakes and you can help with surveys!
Marshes account for about 10% of the wetlands around the lakes. www.great-lakes.net
Invasives stealing from Lake Michigan's Pantry
In 1989, before the invasives got a grip on the lower lake's food Source, the biomass then available
for prey species fish was estimated to be 450,000 tons. The most recent survey by the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that figure had dropped to about 30,000 tons
today—a huge decline since the surveys began in 1973.
While there is yet no proven cause for the record low, the blame is likely to be placed on the quagga,
a relatively new foreign mussel. Further research may establish that the quagga, like its relative, the
zebra mussel, has removed vast amounts of plankton on which the fish depend. What ever the
cause, it was concluded that Lake Michigan can no longer support the fish numbers as it had
decades ago. In just the past five years the mussels have increased 16-fold!
We've seen no studies/research on Lake Superior's prey fish biomass. Scientifically, this Great Lake
is oligotrophic: a producer of limited nutrients. This could be a factor here in keeping mussels in
relatively low numbers and confined mostly to harbors.
This is the mantra of a new (2005) and ambitious
Great Lakes group named HEALTHY lakes Healthy LIVES.
It notes that, " More than 200 scientists have endorsed a report concluding that the Great Lakes are
breaking down due to cumulative and ongoing impacts of sewage, contamination, invasive species
and other threats." Check it out www.healthylakes.org
Your SLSA Board Members
LeRoger Lind (Pres.) Nancy Paisley, Glenn Maxham (vice-pres), Will Munger Jr., Deb Ortman, Alice
Pierce (Treas), Arnold Overby, Karen Ritchie, Todd Ronning, Mary Jo Keefe (T.Cities rep.) Alison
Contos, member emeritus.
SLSA annual membership still only S5.00 per person
Lifetime membership: $100.00