By Sandy Bihn,Western Lake Erie Association
A confined disposal facility in M a u m e e B a y /We s t e r n Lake Erie experienced a 30-foot wide and 10 feet high failure in its earthen dike early this August. The facility, known as Grassy Island or Island, holds tons of material dredged from the Toledo shipping channel. Boaters alerted the Coast Guard about the leaching from the 150-acre facility, but the Army Corps of Engineers and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency took days to test the waters and did not set up containment booms to contain the leachate. Officials stated that therewas no urgency to test the leachate and that there was no threat to public health.
This lack of urgency is despite the fact that a 1974 Environmental Impact Statement by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers categorized the sediments disposed of at Grassy Island as heavily polluted, with serious pollutants including volatile solids, oil and grease, iron, lead, and zinc as heavy in the sediments disposed of at Grassy Island. Grassy Island is located near a populated area in Toledo known as Point Place. This breach took place in the summer when many people recreate with wave runners, and wind surfers, so there is contact with the waters that surround Grassy Island.
Why would officials assume that leaching is no problem and fail to take the normal precaution of containing the leachate and then testing to protect public health and aquatic life?
For more information, contact Sandy Bihn, Executive Director/Waterkeeper, Western Lake Erie Association, 419-691-3788 or visit http://westernlakeerie.org/index.html.