GTAC Lies About Asbestos in Penokee Hills

August 7, 2013 by Barbara With

On August 15, 2013, the Wisconsin DNR is holding a hearing to take public testimony on whether to issue a bulk sampling permit to Gogebic Taconite LLC (GTac) for mining in the Penokee Hills.

GTac submitted their application for bulk sampling in late June. On July 2, the DNR issued a ten-point response requiring more information from GTac, including how they plan to deal with the asbestos found in the Penokee HIlls:

Wisconsin Geological Survey shows grunerite, one of the most toxic forms of asbestos, is present on and near the proposed mine site.

Wisconsin Geological Survey shows grunerite, one of the most toxic forms of asbestos, is present on and near the proposed mine site.

10. Additionally, given the documented occurrence of asbestiform minerals in ore bodies of similar nature in Minnesota and reports of similar minerals (amphiboles of the cummingtonite-grunerite series) in the vicinity of the proposed bulk sampling activity, it will also be necessary to evaluate the bulk sampling activity to determine whether regulations pertaining to the control of asbestos emissions under chapters NR445 or NR447 WI. Admin.Code is required. If there minerals are present or potentially present in an asbestiform habit within the excavated material, a percentage of total emissions would likely be asbestos emissions.

According to the National Academy of Sciences, grunerite is one of the most toxic forms of asbestos and causes lung cancer, mesothelioma and pulmonary fibrosis. The Wisconsin Geological Survey states on its website that grunerite is found throughout the Mellen area on and near the proposed mine site. (see above)

However, in its response to the DNR, Gtac is claiming there is no asbestos around the mine site:

Putting aside whether NR 445 would apply to the mining activities, NR 445 does not apply to the proposed bulk sampling activities because asbestiform minerals are not likely to be present in the Gogebic Iron Range near Mellen, W … Based on the lack of geologic conditions that would favor the formation of asbestos and the absence of the presence of asbestos in the similar geology o fthe Mesabi Iron Range asbestosis not likely to be present in the Gogebic Iron Range. (asbestosis?) … based on the above discussion we do not expect asbestos or asbestiform minerals to be present in the Gogebic Iron Range near Mellen, WI … As discussed above, asbestiform minerals are not likely to be present in the Gogebic Iron Range near Mellen, WI based on similar geology in Minnesota where studies have been conducted and asbestiform minerals have not been found. Therefore, NR 447 does not apply to the Bulk Sampling Plan.

GTac History of Lies (see video below)
January 11, 2011: Matt Fiffield, a representative for GTac assures a crowd at the Great Lakes Visitors Center that GTac has no intention of changing the then-current legislation that regulated mining.
Kelda Helen Roys waited 7 months for Walker to respond to her open records request.

Kelda Helen Roys’ open records request.

July 19, 2011: Bill Williams tells a group at the Deep Water Grill in Ashland the same thing. However, an open records request conducted by Rep. Keldra Helen Roys in December 2011 produced almost 9,000 documents from Scott Walker’s office.  Some were emails dated May 2011 showing GTac lobbyist Tom Pyper writing the new legislation with Jason Culotta of the Governor’s office. Williams’ statements in July, when he knew his lobbyist was working on the bill, was clearly a lie. (See the full video below)

December 2011: The Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economy and Small Business introduces AB426, the bill written by the mining company and claims it is a consensus bill. Committee Democrats state repeatedly it is not and vote against introducing it on those grounds.

January 24-26, 2012: GTac and their legislative supporters lie consistently about who wrote bill. Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) finally confesses that GTac wrote the bill.

February 2012: GTac gets caught in another science lie as it attempts to conceal the dangers of pyrite and the problems it will cause by partially or completely redefining pyrite out of existence.

February 2013: GTac starts circulating a map of the alleged ore bodies, getting caught in another lie as they attempt to re-draw the boundaries of the ore bodies to fit their needs.

July 2013: GTac hires an unpermitted paramilitary militia, Bulletproof Securities, to guard the core drilling sites on public county land with machine guns. Not only does BPS not have the proper permits, but semi-automatic weapons on county forest land also violates Iron County Forest rules.

The roads appear too saturated for non-low compaction and impact vehicles. But Iron County Mining Impact Committee Member Ross Peterson's bulldozer pushed the saturated soil all around.

The roads appear too saturated for non-low compaction and impact vehicles.

Around the same time, the company GTac hired to do the core drillings appears to have disposed of chemical-laden waste water directly into the roads and forest, instead of disposing of it in legally regulated landfills, as is required by law.

August 2013: Despite committing a felony, BPS is given a permit to operate in Wisconsin. GTac Lobbyist Bob Seitz assures the public that BPS will be returning to protect GTac from further disruption. When asked why a company that committed a felony was allowed to return to the state and do business, Iron County DA Marty Lipske replied, “The June 11 incident was very frightening for the workers and they need to protect them.” No mention of his duty to uphold the law.

We are responsible for protecting our communities and our water. The August 15th public hearing will be held at the Hurley High School, 5503 W. Range View Drive, Hurley, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Call Martin Lipske, Iron County DA and demand he uphold the law and press charges against Bulletproof.

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3 Comments on “GTAC Lies About Asbestos in Penokee Hills”

  1. Kevin August 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Rather than taking GTAC’s word for it, why doesn’t the Wisconsin DNR conduct their own evaluation of the mineral composition of the area to be mined?

    • Dana September 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      This is Scott Walker’s state. Do you really think DNR has the funding?

  2. Asbestos issues May 17, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    It all sounds very similar to asbestos related issues we have over here in the UK…. not good…

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