Friday, August 2, 2013
TITLE - STATE ENFORCEMENT IN AITKIN COUNTY A WATERWORKS Column by Gordon Prickett for the 8/7/2013 Aitkin Independent Age STATE ENFORCEMENT IN AITKIN COUNTY A year ago SarTec Corporation from Anoka, Minnesota, was observed emptying 275-gallon canisters containing a dark oily liquid on a 20-acre hay field in Section 4 of Nordland Township. Repeatedly, over a period of weeks, neighbors watched as a SarTec truck hauled trailer loads of this industrial waste into the middle of the field, where a backhoe had prepared pits to receive this material. The pits were then covered. Towards summer’s end, they didn’t bother digging any more pits, but poured the contents directly onto the sloping land, farther in from the township road. The oily liquid collected in pools in a wetland that drains into Nord Lake. The current owner of this land is an officer of SarTec Corporation. Placement of such material on land in Aitkin County requires a permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. This action was reported to Aitkin County Planning and Zoning in October, and an inspector was on site the very next day. SarTec has been fined for this violation, but it has appealed its penalty. An administrative judge will hear the case in St. Paul in September. It is being prosecuted by the State Attorney General’s office. Violations of our shoreland regulations do have consequences. The neighbors are waiting to learn about the chemistry of these waste products and what remediation is planned. HOW MANY LOONS? After the BP Horizon oil platform fire and spill in the Gulf of Mexico there has been concern by Minnesota’s Non-Game Wildlife Division in the DNR, because loons from this region winter over in the Gulf. As a loon watcher for the DNR, I take a yearly census in early July. In 2012 I counted eight loons on my early morning patrol. We have observed three nesting pairs, six adult loons, on our lake for several years. In the census this year I counted only three adult loons, and there appear to be only three resident adults as the summer progresses. We have observed no surviving loon chicks for 2013.