August 11, 2014

SIERRA CLUB CHALLENGES DEQ FISH FARM PERMIT THREATENING Au SABLE RIVER ‘HOLY WATERS’

Fish Factory Could Bring Diseases, Parasites To Famed River

LANSING--The Sierra Club announced today that it will challenge a state permit allowing a controversial factory fish farm in the famed Au Sable River near Grayling. The permit, issued on July 1 by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), would allow the fish farm to discharge pollutants into the East Branch of the Au Sable River, just upstream from where it joins the world-renowned “Holy Waters” section of the Main Branch of the river. Another state agency, the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, has described the Holy Waters stretch of the Au Sable as “unique”, and notes that it is “renowned” throughout the world.
 
“The idea of placing an industrial fish farm within the Au Sable River is just mind-boggling", said Anne Woiwode,  Director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. "Fish waste, food, disease, and parasites are inevitably associated with fish farms of this type. To allow the discharge of these substances into the Au Sable River goes against everything Michiganders expect from our state officials ”.
 
Woiwode also pointed out that the permit does not require monitoring or control of the release of disease, parasites, most pollutants, or even live fish into the river.
 
"There is evidence indicating that there have already been escapees from this facility, even before it has ramped up to industrial capacity”, said Woiwode.
 
Attorney Nick Schroeck, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, represents Sierra Club. Schroeck says that the DEQ has failed in their duty to protect the environment.
 
“The DEQ has admitted that operation of this facility will degrade one of the most economically valuable rivers in the country,” said Schroeck. “But the agency claims  that this degradation is  acceptable, because it will provide 2 full time and 2 part time jobs.  The risk to the Au Sable far outweighs any potential benefits from this facility."
 
The Sierra Club will file a petition today for a Contested Case with the DEQ, challenging the permit.
 
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Sierra Club is the nation's oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization, with 150,000 members and supporters in Michigan.