Around the Circle This Week: March 24, 2022

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One More Day: One minute after midnight on Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will open the Poe Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., and officially open the 2022 Great Lakes shipping season. The area has undergone ice breaking by U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard cutters this week and looks a lot more open than this image from a week ago, taken by the helicopter crew at U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City. The MacArthur Lock, the only other active one at the Soo Locks, will remain closed until April 30; it was shut down early as well last year, closing to marine traffic on Dec. 15. “The 800-foot-long MacArthur Lock, built in 1943, is 78 years old; the maintenance period is critical to keeping the lock in operation during the shipping season,” Maintenance Branch Chief LeighAnn Ryckeghem said at the time. Construction continues on the unnamed New Lock, which will match the 1,200-foot Poe Lock’s size. The Poe, opened in 1969, has been the only lock capable of handling larger Great Lakes freighters and handles about 80% of the more than 4,500 vessel traverses through the locks annually. Iron ore, coal, wheat and limestone are the most frequently carried commodities making up the up to 80 million tons of cargo crossing the Lake annually.

Fish Food Guidelines: Just in time for the annual smelt run in late March and early April, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has sent a release reminding people that it still recommends only one serving of smelt per month taken from Lake Superior’s waters and watershed. The smelt have been found to have elevated levels of PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), which is one of the better known PFAS or perfluouralkyl substance. A serving is considered 8 oz. of smelt for adults and 2-4 oz. for children. Both Minnesota and Wisconsin have similar consumption guidelines. Ontario also has a fish consumption guide. According to the Michigan DHHS, “The guideline, first put in place in 2021, was created based on data shared by the Wisconsin DNR that showed elevated PFOS in Lake Superior rainbow smelt. In 2021, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, along with other partners collected smelt from several locations in Lake Superior and its related watershed. Early results from MDHHS PFAS analysis indicate that PFOS levels in smelt collected in Michigan are similar to smelt collected

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