Monday, October 10, 2005 » Upscale Bay Harbor’s Toxic Turmoil

This 7,000-foot area along Lake Michigan’s sandy coastline just happens to be near old, buried kiln dust piles. And, it just so happens that portions of the exclusive Bay Harbor resort and park were developed right on top of the well-known, hidden heaps of kiln dust. The kiln dust mounds, which have caused highly alkaline seepage and toxic heavy metal pollution, is a waste product left behind by the old Penn-Dixie Cement Company which operated at the very site of Bay Harbor’s development for decades until the 1960s.

For more than 100 years the Penn-Dixie Cement Company and mining operations spoiled and disfigured in excess of 1,200 acres and five miles of Lake Michigan shoreline on Little Traverse Bay. The retired cement plant, which lay abandoned for 35 years after closing its doors back in the 1960s, left a desolate moonscape consisting of asbestos, coal, chromium brick, and 2.5 million cubic yards of kiln dust.

This contaminated eyesore sat unchanged until 1993 when David V. Johnson, Bay Harbor Company Chairman, joined forces with CMS Energy and began what was, and still is to this day, North America’s largest land reclamation. Together, Johnson and CMS Energy attempted to do what most true environmentalist advocate. Instead of destroying existing forests, farmable fields, and the very habitats necessary to support native wildlife, Bay Harbor was developed over a desolate, environmental blemish that no one else wanted to mess with. l

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