1999 GREAT LAKES WATER QUALITY FORUM
SEPTEMBER 24-26, 1999
LIGHTLY EDITED, VERBATIM TRANSCRIPT
SUNDAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 26
Linda Lucasik, Past Chair, Public Advisory Committee, Hamilton Harbour Remedial Action Plan; Vice President, Great Lakes United
I want to echo some concerns that I raised with government yesterday about the positive past that we've had with RAP implementation and the uncertain future. Being in Hamilton, I am particularly concerned about our lack of progress to date in dealing with contaminated sediment issues, and also with toxics issues in general. It sort of points to a pattern that I see in other Areas of Corncern around the Great Lakes. We have had wonderful success in dealing with a lot of visible problems but the invisibles are still left and the remaining challenge.
One thing that concerns me ,and I saw this in the government presentation yesterday, governments are tending to convey almost a false sense of security to the public. I heard a wonderful presentation given about Hamilton Harbour and what we've achieved but no mention of remaining challenges. It made me think about why we don't see more people here today. It also made me think about what I see in my own community. I think the challenge is to convey to the public an understanding of the implications of those "invisibles," those toxic challenges that still remain.
I am putting forward a plea to you that you try to be ever vigilant in raising public awareness about these concerns. I think using this forum more effectively to help the broader public to understand that our job is far from being finished. It's a wonderful thing to talk about success stories but at the same time, my sense of it is that our job is far from being done. That message has to conveyed to the Great Lakes community. I know the activist community is burnt out on this issue. We're trying to reinvigorate ourselves. My fear is that the broader public does have this false sense that everything is wonderful now and the job is done. That's my request to you is that you do what you can to make sure that this community understands that we are far from being finished. Thank you.
Thank you. If I could give you a comment or two. On Friday morning, most of the Commissioners attended a breakfast given by a Michigan body, not dealing at all with the subject matter that you are talking about, but there was a man present there who asked if he could make a comment. He had been working the bay area of Michigan for 15 hard years on a RAP, vigorously free time. And the remedial work was going to take another 40 years before it's finished. He thought it was about time we started singing some of the praises, otherwise people that were working on the project were getting disheartened if they didn't get some recognition that things were to be done. When there is some praise for things that have been achieved, we feel it's necessary to give credit to people who spent so much time, otherwise it's very discouraging for them. As he said, they had been working for 15 years then telling them that there's an awful lot more to be done, without hearing any commendation from us.
I agree with you but I think we have to be honest at the same time. I'll give you a local example. We've created beaches in Hamilton Harbour. I for one, personally, don't swim at those beaches, and I'll tell you why. The main reason is that the harbour beaches are located not too far from the notorious Randall Reef. We know the sediment from that site is being resuspended and we also note ... (tape change) ... toxic sediments from that area. There to me is an example of, We've dealt with the visibles, but we haven't dealt with the invisibles. In Hamilton, the message is that it's safe to swim in that area. That concerns me. I agree that we have to be celebrating progress but at the same time, we have to be frank about the reality that we are still facing.
May I say that I agree with you.