July 31, 2007, with information from Minnesota National Public Radio
Reserve Mining Company was found dumping its asbestos-contaminated waste rock into Lake Superior thirty years ago. The courts forced Reserve to build an on-land disposal site for its waste rock, and set a standard for how many fibers the company could let dump on the surrounding towns through airborne emissions.
Asbestos is the carcinogenic, Class A poison responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in this country, and the cause of America’s largest ever public health disaster
“Based on the measurements that were done in the early ’80s, and the fact that the agency quit monitoring for 25 years, we believe we satisfied the requirement in the fiber levels,” company spokeswoman LaTisha Gietzen was quoted as saying. “We continue to do our part, and they’ve [levels] continued to drop, and they’re at the lowest levels they’ve been in 30 years.”
However, since the standard for acceptable emissions is the quantity of fibers in St. Paul, where asbestos levels have also dropped, the company is out of compliance. Rather than meet the strict requirements, the company has sought an end-run around the regulations by trying to overturn the original court ruling.
Lee Lind, from the Save Lake Superior Association, originally formed his group 30 years ago to fight Reserve’s dumping in Lake Superior. Now the group has teamed with the Sierra Club. “Fibers are falling every day on Beaver Bay, Silver Bay, on the harbor down there,” Lind says. “It’s not like this problem has gone away, and these fibers, according the EPA, are considered dangerous.”
It’s time for corporate polluters like Reserve to follow the rules, not change them.