From Our ReadersIssue Date: December 29, 2020
The 2,472 pages of Aquila's recently submitted Dam Safety permit application is exclusively focused on the engineering aspects of the proposed tailings dam near the Menominee River. There is no discussion of the corporate organizational and human causes of catastrophic failures like the January 2019 Brazilian tailings dam failure that killed 270 people.
A recent report from the consulting firm ERM noted that the engineering causes of tailings dam failures are well known but warned that the organizational and human causes of tailings dam failures are just as significant (www.erm.com/insights/navigating-the-esg-of-tailings-management/).
ERM has reviewed the incident reports of 11 major dam failures that have occurred in the last 12 years. They concluded that "basic organizational and human factors, such as budgeting, operational leadership, safety & risk culture, and competence, played a significant role in each."
This raises a serious concern about Aquila's ability to manage the construction, operation, monitoring and emergency action plan for their proposed tailings dam. Aquila's dam safety application states that "if any potential failure were to develop, it would be detected at an early stage followed by prompt corrective action and remediation. As such, tailings and water would never reach lands adjacent to the Project or the Menominee River."
Why should the public trust Aquila's ability to closely monitor all aspects of tailings dam safety when it has failed to comply with the minimal legal requirements for conducting business in the state of Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), Aquila's registration to conduct business in Wisconsin was revoked on October 21, 2015 because it failed to file annual reports and pay fees. The Sierra Club of Wisconsin has filed a complaint with the DFI showing that Aquila has conducted business on multiple occasions from 2015 through at least 2019 despite the revocation. Aquila either controls or owns two mineral deposits in Wisconsin in Marathon and Taylor counties.
Under state law, Aquila cannot continue to conduct business until it pays all outstanding fees, a fine, and must reapply for authorization to conduct business as a foreign corporation.
"This complaint shows that Aquila Resources can't be trusted to follow Wisconsin law. Will Aquila Resources respect Michigan law if it gains permits for the Back Forty mine proposal in Michigan along the Menominee River? Michigan and Wisconsin residents along the Menominee River and downstream now have more reason to doubt the promises of this company," said David Blouin, State Mining Committee Chair.
When it comes to evaluating the risk of a tailings dam failure and the release of toxic mine tailings into the Menominee River, the public requires more than empty promises of dam safety oversight. Aquila's track record to date provides no such assurance.
The "Bakeless Cookie Walk", sponsored by the Friends of Wausaukee Library, was a huge success. We greatly appreciate the involvement of so many in the community to support our branch library. A Hearty thank you to all.
We look forward with hope to 2021 for the return of several library programs and the regular December cookie walk with our over 100 bakers.
Words cannot express the gratitude we have for the local businesses, organizations, residents, and high school students of Marinette, Peshtigo, Porterfield, and Walsh areas, all of whom participated in the St Joseph Conference of the Society of St Vincent de Paul Christmas Program for 156 area families in need.
Albert Schweitzer wrote: "At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us." Please know that your "light" as one of your Christmas Family adoptors and/or your financial support has rekindled the light for 385 children with Christmas gifts of clothes, toys, books, etc. That is 385 flames you have lit this Christmas season!!
Major players in our Christmas Gift Program were the 101 adopters!!! The Marinette High School Student Senate, under supervisor Brenda Blystone, adopted fourteen children and shopped for 20 of our registered children. Peshtigo High School Volunteer Club, under supervisor Dan Vanidestine, adopted seven children and shopped for 66 children. St Thomas Aquinas Academy - both Elementary and Secondary campuses adopted three children.
Holy Family Parishioners adopted 143 children, JCI employees adopted 64 children, Peshtigo St Mary's and Walsh SS Joseph and Edward parishioners adopted 61 children, Bellin Employees adopted 21, Kimberly Clark Employees adopted 20, Triple C Riders adopted 10 children, Waupaca Employees adopted six, Peshtigo Women's Club adopted six. NWTC adopted a family of six, and Stephenson National Employees adopted six children. WPS Foundation granted $500 towards our Christmas adoption program.
InVenture North allowed us to use one of the semi-bays for distribution and the Brandon Cacek family members were in charge of distribution and did an amazing job with the help of Christine Pecard and Patty and David Vieth.
Merry Christmas to all and Blessings of Joy, Hope, and Peace for 2021 to all our living and deceased benefactors, friends in need, and fellow Vincentians.
Blessings on your day and on your work to help others in need,
Pete Mayhew - Conference President
St Joseph SSVdP Conference
"Stained Glass Windows"
Winter brings the death of December
Another year down a long lonesome road,
Snow is covering all of my footprints
Where all my memories did once unfold.
Each passing day is a little farther
From the springtime of my youth,
Where I frolicked in the sunshine
And found love and the truth.
Days soon passed with the wind
Taking with it friends and love,
And left me standing in the chapel
Starring at stained glass windows above.
As I approach my last Decembers
And recall everything I've been through,
Teardrops fall from the stained glass windows
Welcoming me home back to you.
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