Approving US Ecology’s expansion “would demonstrate a complete contempt for the working families of southeastern Michigan,” Robinson, whose district includes the plant on the east side, wrote to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Department of Environmental, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) in mid-December.
“We must all work together to fight environmental racism,” Robinson continued. “Only in Detroit would US Ecology attempt to station such a facility in a large urban center. Our policies should not be the poster child for environmental racism.”
Despite the objections from Robinson and the other nine state House representatives from Detroit, EGLE issued a permit Wednesday to allow US Ecology to increase its storage of toxic waste almost ninefold in a densely populated neighborhood just blocks from a school and mosque.
EGLE said it had no choice but to approve the permit because the company has complied with the law. But records show otherwise. Since September 2010, the plant at Georgia Street near the Hamtramck border has been cited more than 150 times for releasing excessive amounts of arsenic, cyanide, mercury, and other toxic chemicals into the city’s sewer system, according to a Detroit Free Press review of Great Lakes Water Authority records. The company also failed to properly explain past violations and provide solutions to avoid reoccurrences as required by its permit.
In a joint statement, the 10 House Democrats from Detroit said US Ecology has committed more than 500 violations and dumped excessive amounts of dangerous chemicals into the sewers near its facility at Georgia Street near the Hamtramck border.
“We must put an end to the constant assault on the health and safety of our families,” the Democrats wrote. “Approving this expansion sends a dangerous signal to the rest of the nation that Detroit is America’s toxic waste dumping ground. Welcoming more out-of-state dangerous, toxic and radioactive waste in the middle of Detroit is unacceptable and we demand answers. These are exactly the type of deadly materials we need to keep away from our neighborhoods and water system.”
Robinson, who has introduced a bill to prevent hazardous storage and processing plants from expanding, tells Metro Times that the state’s approval of the expansion is “shocking, alarming, and disturbing.”
“EGLE has declared Wayne County the dumping ground for America's most dangerous toxic waste, including radioactive waste from other states,” Robinson says.
“In light of the Flint Water tragedy and the discovery of thousands of contaminated sites across Michigan, it is disheartening to watch corporate special interests muscle state and city government to get their way, to make Wayne County a one-stop shot for all the dangerous waste this side of the Mississippi.”
Robinson says activists, residents, and lawmakers must continue fighting against the increase of toxins in Detroit.
“There is an over-concentration of toxic waste crisis in Wayne County and we can not let up, even as EGLE lets us down,” Robinson says. “This overreach by US Ecology will only lead to community taking a closer look at their operation in municipalities across the region."
Detroiters are disproportionately subjected to environmental contamination and have the highest rates of asthma in Michigan. Southwest Detroit is the most polluted area in the state and was the subject of a Metro Times cover story about environmental racism on Jan. 8.
Expansion of hazardous waste plant in Detroit smacks of 'environmental racism,' Rep. Robinson says | News Hits
The expansion of a hazardous waste processing plant with a history of serious violations on Detroit’s east side smacks of “environmental racism,” Rep. Isaac Robinson wrote in scathing ...
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introduction. The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center is a Detroit-based nonprofit that offers community education, policy support, and various legal services to address environmental, resource, & energy issues affecting communities in and around Detroit, all over Michigan, and throughout the Great Lakes region.
From the Coalition Against the Expansion of US Ecology:
“EGLE said in a Thursday news release that it determined that U.S. Ecology’s facility "satisfied all technical design, construction and operating standards" set forth by state and federal law.”
And they are proud for the concession to limit truck traffic to 45 semi trucks a day through our community to go to this facility. MDEQ / EGLE checks the boxes, works in silos, just following the law. This is why we demand the laws change to include environmental justice and protect our communities!
Hazardous waste plant in Detroit with history of serious violations gets state approval to expand almost ninefold
Posted By Steve Neavling on Fri, Jan 31, 2020 at 11:36 am
- Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy
- US Ecology property area.
A hazardous waste processing plant with a history of serious violations on Detroit’s east side has received state approval to drastically expand its toxic waste storage facilities.
The state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) issued the 10-year permit Wednesday to US Ecology over the strong opposition of residents.
Since September 2010, the plant at Georgia Street near the Hamtramck border has been cited more than 150 times for releasing excessive amounts of arsenic, cyanide, mercury, and other toxic chemicals into the city’s sewer system, according to a Free Press review of Great Lakes Water Authority records. The company also failed to properly explain past violations and provide solutions to avoid reoccurrences as required by its permit.
The facility treats or stores heavy metals, sludge, pickle liquor, cyanide, hydrochloric acid, and even wastes containing low levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), according to EGLE records.
EGLE insisted it had no choice but to approve the expansion because the company has been in compliance. But records suggest otherwise.
The state approval comes a week after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer created the state’s first Environmental Justice Advisory Council, which is aimed at protecting residents.
Detroiters are disproportionately subjected to environmental contamination and have the highest rates of asthma in Michigan. Southwest Detroit is the most polluted area in the state and was the subject of a Metro Times cover story on Jan. 8.
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Hazardous waste plant in Detroit gets approval for expansion
Detroit — A controversial hazardous waste facility that stores solid and liquid waste in the city has gained approval from state regulators to expand and continue operations for the next decade.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy announced Thursday that it has approved a hazardous waste renewal and expansion operating license for U.S. Ecology's Detroit North facility — with conditions that limit daily hazardous waste deliveries and designate a route for truck traffic.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy announced Thursday that it has approved a hazardous waste renewal and expansion operating license for U.S. Ecology's Detroit North facility — with conditions that limit daily hazardous waste deliveries and designate a route for truck traffic. (Photo: Clarence Tabb Jr. / The Detroit News)
The site on Georgia Street applied for license renewal and expansion of the facility in 2013. Last year, EGLE accepted comment through mid-April, and it granted the license on Wednesday.
Under the renewed license, the container storage capacity increased from 41,000 gallons to 488,621 gallons, and U.S. Ecology is authorized to increase their solid hazardous waste treatment operations to 600 tons per day, according to the state's website.
In total, the renewed license allows storage of up to 500,739 gallons of hazardous waste in the container storage facility and up to 176,200 gallons in the treatment facility. No waste would be permitted to remain in storage permanently at the facility.
The plant stores solid and liquid waste from automotive, steel, plating and retail industry customers in the region, as well as hazardous household waste from area residents. It also offers treatment, disposal and recycling of waste.
No waste will be permitted to remain in storage permanently at the facility, according to licensing details on the state's website.
Dave Crumrine, a spokesman for Idaho-based U.S. Ecology, said in a statement that U.S. Ecology has no plans for storage modifications at this time. Any future increase would be achieved without increasing the facility's physical footprint.
"Safety is our No. 1 priority as we strive to maintain open and constructive relationships with all stakeholders including our regulators and most importantly our neighbors in the community," he said.
EGLE said in a Thursday news release that it determined that U.S. Ecology’s facility "satisfied all technical design, construction and operating standards" set forth by state and federal law.
"The goal of the license renewal is to make sure any hazardous waste that enters the facility is managed responsibly to protect human health and the environment," EGLE spokesman Nick Assendelft said in an email. "Conditions imposed as part of the renewal are meant to prevent the uncontrolled release of chemicals to the environment as well as prevent human exposure."
EGLE noted public input resulted in "significant changes" to the final operating license for the facility. Those include added conditions to the license, limiting the number of hazardous waste vehicle deliveries to 45 per day, designating a specific truck route to and from the facility, and an updated waste analysis plan.
Mark Covington, a lifelong resident who helped launch a coalition opposing the permit and expansion, said the community still has concerns about the materials being stored there or entering the water system.
“We’re worried about our water,” he said. “We’re worried about the air we breathe.”
The facility has been operating since the 1940s and waste management has been conducted at the site since 1974.
Crumrine said the renewal was granted after a thorough public review process, which led to modifications.
"The EGLE permit, oversight by regulators, and the engineering and extensive safeguards employed by the facility serve to ensure that waste is managed responsibly in order to protect human health and the environment and the neighboring community," he wrote.
Crumrine said the site provides "safe and compliant" waste treatment for industrial customers, and that the facility and others in the U.S. Ecology network, provide important remediation, including for PFAS, as well as the "green ooze" waste spill along Interstate 696 in Madison Heights.
"This facility is a vital part of the solution to provide safe and compliant waste management options," he said.
State Rep. Isaac Robinson, D-Detroit, called EGLE's approval "alarming, shocking and disturbing."
"This sends a signal ... that we have capacity here in Detroit and Wayne County to handle processing, storage and ultimately dumping of this waste in our landfills," said Robinson, who contends there's an over-concentration of waste facilities in the county.
U.S. Ecology also has been cited on multiple occasions for violating state and federal codes, including those that control air quality as well as administrative offenses.
"Why would we allow that to be built right here in the middle of Detroit's east side near Hamtramck?" added Robinson, who announced two bills in July to halt expansion of storage and processing facilities and ban processing of certain chemicals. "It's really disappointing."
Other members of the Detroit Caucus of the state House of Representatives joined Robinson in condemning the expansion. They also called on EGLE to conduct soil testing and health studies.
"The U.S. Ecology Georgia Street site in Detroit has committed over 150 violations and has dumped excessive amounts of arsenic, cyanide, mercury and other dangerous chemicals into our sewers," the statement on behalf of Reps. Tenisha Yancey, D-Harper Woods, and Joe Tate, Cynthia A. Johnson, Tyrone Carter, LaTanya Garrett, Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, Karen Whitsett and Leslie Love, all Detroit Democrats.
"It is imperative that this expansion is stopped and the demands of the community are heard. We must put an end to the constant assault on the health and safety of our families."
The state contracted with U.S. Ecology to dispose of PFAS after state officials identified more than 30 contamination sites in Michigan that tested positive for PFAS in 2018.
The location is currently being used as a staging area for cataloging and documenting PFAS-containing solution from fire departments and commercial airports across the state. It then is sent to Idaho for proper disposal, said Assendelft, the EGLE spokesman, in an email.
Some of the PFAS already was shipped to Idaho from the site this week, he added.
PFAS are chemicals widely used to create non-stick surfaces including firefighting foam, Scotchgard, Teflon and food wrappers that are resistant to water, grease or stains.
There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects and have been linked to thyroid disease, increased cholesterol levels, and kidney and testicular cancers, according to the EPA.
"Regular, unannounced inspections are performed by EGLE to make sure U.S. Ecology is adhering to license safeguards and technical design, construction, and operating standards required under state and federal law," Assendelft said.
The new license allows the company to operate its storage and treatment facility for the next 10 years, before seeking renewal on Jan. 29, 2030.
In response to concerns, EGLE said it also has posted an Environmental Report Card on the U.S. Ecology Detroit North Hazardous Waste Licensing Information webpage.
Fiat Chrysler’s air quality plan falls short
State regulators have notified Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) that their air quality plan for the expansion of the Mack Avenue and Jefferson North assembly plants on Detroit’s East Side “falls short of expectations, and additional clarification and information is needed.”
Among other things, the plan’s air monitoring program was deemed “not acceptable”.
Michigan’s Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) also wants to see the automaker incorporate feedback from residents and community groups in their proposal.
In the past, environmental groups have called out the FCA deal for its potential to make an already polluted area of the city worse. In particular, they objected to plans to decrease emissions at a Warren plant and increase them in Detroit, which has asthma rates that are 29% higher than the state at large. An estimated 650 Detroiters die from air pollution a year or more than twice the number of those killed by gun violence.
Fiat Chrysler has until November 30th to present a new plan to EGLE. The failure of the previous plan is not expected to delay the expansion, which is scheduled to finish by the end of 2020. In September, community groups released a petition asking FCA for money for a public health fund, air filtration for schools and other facilities, and a buffer of vegetation around the entire plant.
January 31, 2020 | CO2 2020/2019 414.15 / 411.24 ppm <<--www.co2.earth/daily-co2