Clarification Of My Previous Post

As I watch the meteoric climb of views for my previous post about not getting ice cream, I realize a LOT of people who don’t know me, the Cuddy Drain issue, or our lake neighborhoods, are reading that and perhaps getting the wrong message?

I believe in fairness.  That’s what this blog has ALWAYS been about.

My blog post was not about Mr Spoor – he is also a tax-and-assessment-paying Gun Lake resident and GLPA supporter; and he’s invested a gob of money and time into this project. In all fairness, the 20-slip marina as it stands now, is attractive; and added exactly ONE more slip to the lake than was previously there all these years. If I’m peeved at him, it’s because his marina took away our ice cream-getting boating fun with the grandkids.  We’ll still get ice cream – we’ll do it by car.

My gripe is with the DEQ’s failings (particularly in communication and enforcing their own requirements), the lack of township/county/state regulations surrounding a proposed project like this; and as I said: not one (elected) person is looking at the big picture and able to resolve the local residents’ complaints. Or at least I haven’t found anyone yet.

My previous post was to let Gun Lake residents know they FINALLY had a chance to voice their concerns to the DEQ at the Public Hearing on May 30th. I hope we pack the Orangeville Township Hall so they (and others) understand that we DO care what happens to our lake; and I pray that we will overwhelm the DEQ with our patience and respect; thoughtful questions; and politely-worded statements.  Need a good example?  Go back and read about how the Cuddy Channel residents handled a HUGE problem with dignity, patience, cooperation and resolve; even when it cost them over $6600 per lot.  (Yeah – I’m really proud of that bunch!)

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No More Boat Trips to Get Ice Cream?

I realize that most of my readers live on the north side of the lake, but there is a proposed 54-slip marina on the south side of the lake that will affect all of us negatively, in one way or another.  “The Landing Marina” wants to be 265′ wide and extend 138′ into the lake, right in front of Lakeside Pizza and the Ice Cream parlor.  This will be the ONLY dock for the 300′ of frontage;  a couple of properties to the east were purchased, also.  All 54 proposed slips will be rented seasonably, effectively blocking access to our favorite pizza and ice cream.

The marina would also like to have its own boat ramp that will halt traffic on Marsh Rd every time it’s used.  In reading documents connected to this DEQ application, I see the words “gas dock” and “permanent pilings” tossed in.  The one requirement the DEQ stipulates is that a Sanitary Pumpout (a way to empty marine porta-potties) be installed, since there are NO facilities for this nearby.  We need to demand that stipulation not be waived – keep our lake clean and safe!!

Somehow, the new owner of that stripmall containing our boating noshes, managed to get a 20-slip Marina Permit last summer.  He did a good job of running that under the radar of the GLPA – we never heard a word about it.  “Conveniently” – the Public Notices for that were sent to people who have no connection to the lake whatsoever [insert Angry Face]

The frustrating part of all this, is that there’s not ONE regulatory entity that can step back and see the Big Picture: where are all these people going to park their vehicles (some with trailers)?; where are they going to park to unload their gear for a day on the lake?  What bathroom facilities can they use?  Where will they put their trash?  How will the already-heavy traffic on Marsh avoid running down an extra hundred pedestrians?  Who will be the first snowmobiler/ATV rider to crash into a piling or concrete ramp, since they all hug the shoreline through there.  How could we clean up a fuel spill?  Our lake is already over capacity; why are we adding boat slip rentals for non-residents??  We residents are already paying extra assessments to clean up the invasive species brought in by visiting boats – why would we encourage more??

There has been enough outcry by the south-side lake residents (THANK YOU!!!) that the DEQ is now offering a Public Hearing on the proposed marina expansion.  It will be held Tuesday May 30th, at 6 PM at the Orangeville Twp Hall, 7350 Lindsey Rd, Plainwell.

The following is a public document available to the public via the DEQ’s MiWaters website:

I’m begging you to attend; and then maybe we can all stop for ice cream in our cars…..  the nice man who rents the ice cream store location is going to need a bit of help since 25% of his business has just been eliminated.

 

 

Thoughts on the Disposal Well Meeting

At the risk of sounding like a Cynical Old Lady – I feel like last night’s Public Hearing was just a formality on the way to rubberstamping EPA approval.  The gentlemen from the EPA admitted that most denied applications are due to technicalities, and are closed long before the Public Hearing phase.  We’re screwed.

The following are my opinions, and quotations paraphrased:

The turnout was awesome (100+?) – the Hasting Library’s Community Room was standing-room only, plus dozens were standing in the hallway.  The crowd was polite, and asked thoughtful, well-reasoned questions.  They were also smart – and realized quickly when they were being treated to a bunch of bureaucratic double-speak.

Examples:

Brine from Arbor Drilling’s 3 operating wells in the vicinity, will be pumped down into the limestone/shale layer described as “porous/spongelike” by the EPA guys.  When concerns were voiced that the brine could migrate to, and rise up into adjacent dry wells – we were told that the shale was “very solid and would act like an efficient barrier to migration”.

The disposal well is for the exclusive use of Arbor Drilling (out of Traverse City), for their 3 local, non-fracking wells.  However, Arbor could choose to use the well for ANY of its “brine” waste products, including that from fracking (which includes MANY more toxic and corrosive chemicals), without public notice.

We were shown a list of what things might be included in “regular brine”:  the list said water; “some hydrocarbons”; and listed the chemical names of various forms of salt.  It was stressed that “brine is not toxic”.  But let’s go back and look at those hydrocarbons: they are drilling for oil, so the brine WILL contain crude oil, and crude oil IS toxic and carcinogenic.  We all know that, but here’s a link to the Nat’l Institute of Health in case anyone doubts this: https://www.toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/chemicals.php?id=73

Benzene is a KNOWN CARCINOGEN.  Toluene is what kills kids who “huff” aerosols.  These are both common components of crude oil.  I’m embarrassed that a health threat like this was glossed over by the EPA – but then, Flint’s Water Crisis is a pretty good example of their level of concern about our health, IMO.

Earthquakes – this brought rounds of sarcastic laughter from the crowd…. the Disposal Well Permit will have wording to include “Observations for Earthquakes” by the drilling company, if it’s within 66 miles of a suspected fault (it’s within 18 miles of the epicenter of the 2015 Galesburg earthquake); and presumably, the pumping pressure will be lowered a bit from the max of 524 PSI to pump the brine into the well and surround porous rock.  They were concerned about possible damage to the well itself, and brushed off the idea of creating earthquakes by saying the “epicenter of the Galesburg earthquake was much deeper than the disposal well will be”.  Well guess what, boys and girls?  I did a little research:  The epicenter of the Galesburg quake was 2.48 miles down.  The epicenters of the two largest Oklahoma earthquakes were 3.7 and 3.1 miles deep – and scientists are saying those were induced by disposal wells.  We’re screwed.

The EPA guys admitted that they physically check approx 75 to 100 disposal wells per year.  There are currently 1400 disposal wells in Michigan.  Do the math 😦  Furthermore, there are proposed cutbacks in the EPA’s force and budget; and possible closure of the Chicago office.  What they don’t inspect – they rely on the Well Driller to supply data.  I think that was the point where a man in the audience burst out with “Hey – what could possibly go wrong?” and had everyone laughing….. except the EPA guys.

It was probably around this point, that I gave up and left the room.  Greg Purcell, fellow GLPA and “Cuddy-ite” had given up before I did.  After an hour-and-a-half of double-speak, we could see the handwriting on the wall.  We’re screwed.

Important Notes from the April 12th Drain Meeting!

I hope Pat Gillespie will forgive me for copy-and-pasting her comments, but she’s giving us important information!! Please read and spread the word:

[from Pat]

I took off time from work to attend the Cuddy Drain Meeting April 12, 2017, this past Wednesday. Here are a few takeaways from the meeting in case folks haven’t heard:
The dredging is due to be finished by May 1 at which time the sedimentation curtain stretched across the channel will be removed. If May 1 is not met, the contractor will be penalized daily. The work is now focused on cleaning out any remaining high spots missed the first time through. Second, you do not need a state permit to re-install any temporary/non-permanent docks. You might need a permit if you removed a permanent dock and intend to re-install it–the board and contractor didn’t know for sure, but they said they would check and let us know. This last point raised some concern among public attendees, as you can imagine. Please help spread the word on these points with your Cuddy Channel neighbors and seasonal property owners. Obviously folks are eager to get their boats back in the water, but we all have to wait until we are sure the channel is open at the mouth. Don’t get stuck like I did. I have a seasonal property and can’t see the barrier closing the channel from my location. I didn’t see the May 1 date anywhere so like every year I arranged to have my pontoon delivered the State Park in early April regardless of rain, snow or sunshine–it’s a long tradition dating back decades. Imagine my shock and surprise when we approached the channel and saw that barrier! I had to pay extra to have my pontoon pulled out again and stored until a future unknown date. Sigh. On a positive note, the channel has a beautiful volume of water with ample depth. What a great job and really good people to work with. Thank you!

[end]

Thank you again, Pat – I forgot the impact the sedimentation curtain makes!!!

More About Brine Disposal Wells

I guess I should explain “brine” – as simply as possible, because it seems to have multiple definitions.  During the drilling of ANY hole, water with additives is used for lubrication.  Simple brine might just be salt and water.  The stuff that comes back out of the drilled hole will most likely have petroleum products like oil, mixed with it.  This is the “brine” that gets used for dust control on roads, and isn’t supposed to be toxic.  I’m not certain where the line gets drawn between “brine” and “flowback” from fracking – fracking involves a LOT of extra proprietary chemicals like acids, that make the flowback toxic or possibly carcinogenic.  I have to believe a company based in Traverse that wants to haul their waste all the way to Barry County, is dealing with fracking flowback?  Simple brine can be spread on roads.  It’s not good for the environment, but in most townships, it’s still legal.

I copied the following from a Kalamazoo Gazette article by Julie Mack that came out May 4, 2015, shortly after the earthquake near Climax that rocked most of central and southern Michigan.  Several scientists say that the earthquake was NOT caused by brine disposal wells (and it makes sense):

[from the article]
“Like Barnes, Fitch said the depth of Saturday’s quake — 5.9 kilometers below the Earth’s surface — is “key” to ruling out the possibility that the quake was induced by human activity.

Barnes said there’s “no question” that seismic activity has been triggered elsewhere in the country by injecting wastewater at high pressure deep in the Earth near a fault line. (emphasis mine)

“You inject the fluid in a fault, it gets slippery,” making it easier for movement to occur, he said.

But that’s not what happened here, he said.

However, Barnes said there is a connection the Climax oil fields and the quake: The same fault that caused the quake also contributed to the formation of oil. (emphasis mine)

“The reason people drill there is because of formation of the fault, which is the kind of place where you find oil,” Barnes said. “But that doesn’t mean the drilling caused the earthquake.”

[end article]

So taking this logic one step further: brine injection wells tend to be located close to the drilling sites, to save money hauling wastewater around.  That’s an economical no-brainer.  But if there will be more drilling along our earthquake-producing fault – there WILL be a need for brine disposal wells.  Right now, it appears there are 3 disposal wells between Bradley and Wayland; 8 near Pennfield in N Calhoun County; and there’s 2 notated in Johnstown Twp using the interactive Michigan GeoWebface website.  http://ww2.deq.state.mi.us/geowebface/

If the well drillers use a dry (non-productive) well for waste brine injection (again, an economical no-brainer) – then it gets downright scary.  There appears to be 139 +/- dry wells in Barry County; somewhere around 175 +/- just in the top tier of townships in Calhoun County; and there are so many in Allegan County that I didn’t even attempt to count them.  I’ll just be conservative and say “hundreds”.

Seismologists suspect the fault line runs from Coldwater to Kalamazoo, and possibly beyond.  “Beyond Kalamazoo” means Allegan County – the land of dry wells.  We really don’t need to be making a possible fault line slippery.  Folks in northern Oklahoma are celebrating because the number of earthquakes has dropped a bit: they only had 17 quakes of magnitude of 3.0 or higher in the 30-day period from Feb 2 to Mar 2, 2017.  Do we really want to risk that in our area??

 

 

Public Hearing for Fracking Disposal Well

I would like to invite everyone to attend this meeting at the Hastings Public Library Community Room on Wednesday April 19th from 6 to 9 PM.  The EPA is offering public comment on Arbor Drilling (Traverse City, MI) seeking a permit to turn an existing well into a Disposal Well for drilling brine.  The proposed well is less than 13 miles from Gun Lake.

https://www.epa.gov/publicnotices/public-hearing-draft-class-ii-permit-mi-015-2d-0002

Why should we care?:

  1.  Drilling Brine, usually produced in the course of Fracking an oil or gas well, isn’t always as harmless as advertised.  It’s often used for dust control on rural roads, and there have been “accidents” when more toxic/corrosive components from fracking have been applied to roads with bad results.  At best, local farmers have complained about the corrosiveness being harmful to farm machinery.  More and more townships (the entity in charge of dust control) have banned the use of brine in their areas
  2. I remember talking to Mike Shelton, a well inspector from the State’s Oil/Gas/Mineral department, and he said that the shale in lower Michigan, is difficult to frack because it’s too porous.  If it’s too porous to frack, then in MY opinion,  it’s too leaky to contain drilling brine.
  3. But here’s the biggie: if we start allowing disposal wells in our area, are we creating another situation like Oklahoma?  Seismologists/geologists have finally accepted that disposal wells are the cause of earthquake swarms in OK.   https://stateimpact.npr.org/oklahoma/tag/earthquakes/
  4. Basically, wastewater from drilling, when injected deep in the ground, lubricates underground fault lines and allows them to slip past each other more easily.  Michigan DOES have fault lines, as evidenced by the 4.2M earthquake experienced two years ago, along a fault line that runs from Coldwater to Kalamazoo and beyond?   We have zero proof, but I and many other Gun Lake residents feel strongly that that earthquake was responsible three weeks later, for the breach of the Gun Lake Dam.  Even if the breach wasn’t caused by the earthquake, my house, and MANY others in the Gun Lake area, are built over layers of peat.  Let’s face it, Barry County is mostly swamp and our homes are built on the equivalent of “Jello”.  Nothing in Michigan is built to Earthquake Standards – we can NOT risk creating earthquakes due to a Traverse City company’s need for more disposal sites.