U.S.-Canada effort cuts pollution in Lake Superior basinby Dan Kraker, Minnesota Public Radio
DULUTH, Minn. -- A joint environmental program between Canada and the U.S. is on target to reduce toxic chemicals like mercury and PCBs from within the Lake Superior basin by 2020.
In 1991 the Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan established a goal of zero discharge for nine toxic chemicals in the basin in just under 30 years.
In the past two decades, a draft report says sources of pollution around Lake Superior have cut mercury emissions by 80 percent and dioxins by 85 percent.
Kerri Lohse-Hanson, who coordinates the Lake Superior Binational Program for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, says that the majority of the pollution in Lake Superior comes from sources outside the basin.
Lohse-Hanson also concedes that it's probably unrealistic to reach zero emissions for some pollutants like mercury. But she says it's worth pushing for it.
"For these really nasty chemicals that we really shouldn't be discharging and emitting," Lohse-Hanson says, "that's a good goal."
The agencies involved are accepting public comment on the draft report through June 25.
Lohse-Hanson says the draft report shows that a lot of progress has been made since the program first started.
"I think that the people who were there in 1991 would be pretty proud of the fact that we've had 80 percent reduction, 85 percent reduction of chemicals like mercury and dioxin," she says. "It's a fairly impressive amount of progress that's already been made."