Thursday, March 23, 2023

Local disposal of train wreck toxic waste criticized by county

Romulus officials received another vote of support in their protest of the toxic waste from the Feb. 3 train derailment in New Palestine, Ohio being sent to their city for disposal.

Last week, Wayne County Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution opposing any further transport of toxic waste to sites within the county, supporting new dialogue between the county, state and federal agencies and strengthening laws regarding transport of toxic waste by rail, according to a prepared statement from the commissioners.

“We understand there is a need to dispose of this waste, but Wayne County is the most populous county in the state and it is bordered by our nation's largest fresh water supply,” commission Chair Alisha Bell (D-Detroit) said. “There are other less populated and less environmentally sensitive areas where waste can be shipped.”

The resolution was presented by Bell and Commissioners Tim Killen and Monique Baker McCormick.

The resolution came in protest of the transport of toxic waste from the Ohio train derailment to sites in Romulus and Van Buren Township without prior notice to county, state and local officials.

Some 219,000 gallons of diluted toxic waste fluid was transported to a deep injection well site in Romulus while a site in Van Buren Township has been authorized by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to receive solid waste from the derailment, including contaminated soil.

Waste shipped to the county included vinyl chloride, a known cancer-causing agent, the commission statement said.

The resolution calls on EGLE and the EPA to provide, “immediate advance notice of and to engage in open discussion regarding the transport through and/or disposal of toxic waste in Wayne County with the public officials and institutions established to protect the local community and residents.”

It also supports Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans' efforts to have open dialogue on both agencies on issues regarding toxic waste transport within the county.

In addition, it supports Michigan Senate Bill 100, introduced by state Sen. Erika Geiss, that would require freight hauling railroad companies to maintain crews of at least two individuals.

The resolution is being sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office as well as to those of EGLE, the EPA, the Michigan Department of Transportation and National Transportation Safety Board, as well as other officials and agencies.