Thursday, March 30, 2023

License renewal sought for hazardous waste well

State environmental officials were expected to announce the date for renewed public comment regarding a license renewal at the hazardous waste well facility in Romulus.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Ann Arbor, said regulators from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE)  would re-open the period of public input at a date expected to be announced this week. The comment period is in response to an April 28, 2021 request from Republic Industrial and Energy Services for a renewal of the license at the waste well on Citrin Road. The original public comment on the application ended Feb. 16.

In a prepared statement, Dingell said she felt the reopening of public comment may have been in response to letters sent to EGLE from her office and by Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, and Shri Thaedar, D-Detroit. Those letters criticized the trucking of hazardous waste material spilled during the derailment of a Norfolk Southern train in East Palestine, Ohio earlier this month. Hazardous waste was then trucked to Romulus and Van Buren Township waste sites for disposal without any notification to any state or local officials.

The Romulus facility has been controversial since it first opened in the community. The injection wells were closed from 20006 until 2011 due to safety violations including the exposure  of toxic waste at the injection site. Romulus Mayor Robert McCraight issued a strong criticism of the disposal as did Director of Community Safety and Development Kevin Krause.

Despite continued public outcry, the Romulus waste well is currently licensed to treat hazardous wastewater  imported on railroad and tanker trucks. Materials sent for disposal include toxic waste, corrosives and heavy metals. The waste is treated for disposal and then injected into the deep wells at the site. The facility and procedures are licensed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Dingell said the congressional delegation also will host a public forum on April 13 with EGLE, the EPA and others to talk about the “urgent need for further public discourse about how and where we dispose of toxic and hazardous waste.”

State, county and local leaders all publicly criticized the transport of the toxic waste into Michigan without any notification. While they acknowledged notification of the disposal was not required by law, they soundly criticized the shipments.

“This is the right thing to do to be transparent, hear community concerns, and ensure that the residents who are most directly affected by the storage of hazardous waste in their neighborhoods have their voices heard,” Dingell said in the prepared statement. “The transport and storage of toxic materials requires constant vigilance, and communities deserve to be fully informed and have the opportunity to express their concerns before a final decision is made.”