Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Deep well license transfer concerns Romulus officials

Scott Spielman
Special Writer

     Officials in the City of Romulus are hoping a pending change of ownership at a deep injection well in the community will provide an opportunity to address safety concerns there.
     “It's not a new topic; it's not a fun topic,” said Romulus Mayor Leroy Burcroff. “A lot of people have put a lot of hours and a lot of fight into this, but it continues.”
The well, which accepts hazardous liquid waste and pumps it nearly a mile underground, originally opened in 2005 and was operated by Environmental Disposal Systems. The company experienced financial problems and the facility was also cited for safety violations. It has remained largely inactive since the license was transferred to another company, Environmental Geo-Technologies, in 2011.

     Burcroff and his leadership team learned that the license was in the process of being transferred to another firm, Republic Services, when they met last week with representatives from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE). Because it was a relatively minor change, they were told that public input-or even public notification-was not required.
     “I just think that's wrong,” Burcroff said. “When we talk about the government today, we talk about transparency.”
     Nevertheless, Burcroff said he and his team requested a public hearing and town hall so they and residents could voice concerns over the well, which is off Citrin Drive in Romulus.
     “It's time to take a fresh look at these concerns that need to be addressed. Things have changed since 2011,” said Burcroff. “Citrin Drive is a different area with different traffic concerns than there were in 2011. I believe it's the state government's responsibility that we have a fair process, that we are heard and that the locals do have some control. Our responsibility is to keep the public safe.
     “We believe there are serious things the state should consider before approving an operating permit for that site,” he added.
He said the city would formulate a report of safety concerns, photos, as well as issues that are important to the community. One glimmer of hope, according to Burcroff, is that state officials' position is that local government does have ordinances and laws applicable to the business. Previously, city officials had been informed they had no authority, because the project is governed by the state at the above-ground portion and the federal government at the underground operations. Those details will be added in to the report, Burcroff said. The state allowed a two-week deadline to file concerns.
“Our requests of the state would be to look at our concerns, allow our residents to speak, have transparency and have a public forum so that our voices can be heard,” Burcroff said. “That's the core fabric of our government.”
Citizens can weigh in, too.
     Members of the public can contact Mark Snow, environment manager at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, And Energy at (517) 230-8233 or They can also send correspondence to Constitution Hall, 525 West Allegan St., P.O. Box 30256, Lansing, MI 48909-7756.
     Burcroff said it was important for residents and leaders to act together.
“This isn't about individuals. This isn't about personalities. This is about what I believe is doing the right thing,” he said. “I want to make sure that we're in harmony with this.”