commission says progress of Great Lakes cleanup too slow
12, 2002, 11:46 AM EDT
WASHINGTON -- Thirty years after Canada and the United
States agreed to clean up the Great Lakes, the waters
remain too polluted for unrestricted fishing and swimming,
according to a report released Thursday by a commission
monitoring the work.
The International Joint Commission, created in 1972, found
that progress in cleaning up the Great Lakes was slow
and many challenges remain, such as ridding the waters
of invasive species and contaminated sediments.
Pollution from industry and development settles to the
bottom of the rivers and waterways of the Great Lakes,
where it can be stirred up naturally or by dredging. Research
shows that contaminated sediment has caused tumors and
impaired reproduction in fish, caused birth defects in
birds and mammals and increased cancer risk in people.
"This is really a public health problem," said Dennis
Schornack, who represents the United States on the commission.
"It's not that we are dissatisfied with the cleanup efforts
that are going on, but the pace is so slow and the lack
of a focal point and resources ... is somewhat lacking."
Schornack said the governments of both countries need
to commit substantially more resources to clean up the
Great Lakes, which supply drinking water to more than
30 million people and have more than 600 beaches on U.S.
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