CASPIAN—The uncertain future of the city’s iron ore settling ponds was discussed during the April Caspian City Commission meeting.
According to City Attorney Steve Polich, the settling ponds, located in the lower Dober Location, were designed in the 1980s to collect acid-based substances left over from the mines. The settling ponds were originally paid for with funds from a mining lawsuit and were designed to prevent contamination of the Iron River.
Funds from the lawsuit have continued to pay for the upkeep of the settling ponds and any necessary cleanup cost as well as required permits, which were held by an agent of an unnamed mining company.
“Now that money is gone,” Polich said, adding that the company has expressed to Caspian City Manager John Stokoski its desire to have the city take over the permit.
Due to the extensive costs associated with the monitoring and clean-up of the ponds and the potential exposure risks, Polich said the city has declined responsibility. Clean-up of the ponds is mandated every 15 to 20 years and was just completed last year, costing approximately $100,000.
In discussions with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Polich and Stokoski were made aware of weekly monitoring of the ponds via phone lines and solar panels located at the site.
“The reports are compiled and then turned over to the DEQ.” Polich explained.
Because of these costs and many other expenses that could occur, Polich said, “In the end, we told the DEQ and the mining company, ‘No, we are not doing it.’”
If monitoring and cleanup are not continued, Polich said, the Iron and Brule rivers could be at risk, but he assured that, one way or another, the DEQ will be required to oversee maintenance of the ponds.
In other business, Iron County Museum representative Bill Leonoff reported on the museum’s plans for a radio dramatization based on the city of Caspian.
The program will be the same format as the recent Rum Rebellion productions, but will represent the history and founders of Caspian. Taking place between the years 1900 and 1933, the performance will cover the mining industry, business places, schools, churches and the Caspian Community Center. The program will include musical numbers and will be a combination of information and entertainment, according to Leonoff, giving attendees an opportunity to learn new information about old history.
The dramatization will be held on Thursday, June 20, at 7 p.m. at the Iron County Museum. Tickets are $8 and can be purchased at the museum after Memorial Day.
The commission also approved the wording of an ordinance establishing standards for safe street intersections and the creation of clear vision areas at intersections. Also approved was the wording of a state- mandated ordinance pertaining to the cross-connection of water lines. Action is expected after a public hearing, to be held prior to the May 8 City Commission meeting.
Mark Stauber of the Community Center committee reported that the center is looking for a live-in resident director. Indoor activities at the center will end May 1 and resume in the fall, he said.
Stokoski reported on the West Iron County Sewer Authority’s search for a new plant operator. Current plant operator Casey Rose has resigned, with his last day being May 3. WICSA board members are currently reviewing applications for a temporary part-time office manager and a chief plant operator.