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Air Pollution Comment Period and Public Hearing

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Air Quality Division is looking at a new Permit to Install (PTI) application from Rio Tinto for operations at Eagle Mine on the Yellow Dog Plains. Rio Tinto believes that due to the reconfiguring of their plant and the move of the original underground cement batch plant and associated material silos (aggregate, cement) to the surface near Eagle Rock it will no longer be necessary to install a Bag House at the top of their main ventilation air rise (MVAR.)   The MVAR has a diameter of 128” and is 65’ high, and is the only vent for all underground workings.  The Bag House, that was in the original Air Quality Permit, along with an air filter on the stack would capture 99% of all emissions including: reactive sulfides resident in and broken loose from the ultramafic massive sulfide ore body.  With the reconfiguration, Rio Tinto claims there will be no crushing underground and an ore pass system will not be utilized, making a Bag House unnecessary.  Underground dust will instead be controlled with water using a hose and a tank truck.

The DEQ has said that the Yellow Dog Plains is an “attainment area,” a geographic area which has air quality as good as or better than the Federal Air Quality Standards.  This means that the air on the Yellow Dog Plains is threatened by Rio Tinto, now with the ability under law, to pollute the air until they reach the limit of the air quality standard set by the EPA.  This action could bring air quality dangerously close to the air quality in places such as Detroit and Chicago.  The emissions taken into consideration are only representative of the mine area itself, not including any of the diesel emissions and fugitive dust from transportation. “If the original plan was to have this air pollution control device installed, it should stay that way. There is no reason to reduce the protective measures in order to keep this area’s resources as great as they already are, especially with such high quality waterways like the Salmon-Trout and Yellow Dog River nearby. My bet is Rio Tinto has the funds to keep this device in the plan,” says Emily Whittaker, Executive Director of YDWP. Cynthia Pryor, Board Member of YDWP, states, “We must also demand that Rio Tinto keep the promise that they made in their original permit (made as a result of public comment and pressure!) to put an air filter on the main polluting source at the site – the MVAR stack. “PROMISES KEPT” is Rio Tinto’s main motto.  Let us make them hold to that promise.”

Link to the Permit to Install (PTI):

An informational session and a public hearing will take place at Northern Michigan University, University Center, Michigan/Huron Room, 1401 Presque Isle Avenue, Marquette, Michigan on March 12th, 2013.   The informational session will be held from 5:00PM – 6:30PM at which time staff will be available to answer questions.  The public hearing will follow at 7:00PM. The sole purpose of the hearing will be to take formal testimony on the record.  During testimony, questions will not be answered; however, staff will be available to answer questions outside the hearing room.

Link to Notice of Hearing:

Link to Public Participation Documents:

Link to Interested party Cover Letter:

Written comments will also be accepted February 8 until March 12, 2013 (ending at midnight on March 12, 2013).

The link to submit a written comment is found here: