Jan. 26, 2018 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
Plymouth Michigan News
The Plymouth community, a major railroad intersection with tracks running north, south, east and west, hosts a high annual volume of rail traffic frequently carrying the toxic deadly chemicals like those found in hazardous waste. The transport of deadly chemicals poses a high risk to any community. Hazmat is classified as industrial materials that are flammable, corrosive, toxic, explosive or infectious and includes hazardous waste.
According to the US Department of Transportation, twenty percent of the nations chemicals move by rail each year carrying a threat of attack or accident causing explosion, toxic release, and fire. That equates to 1.7 million train carloads of hazardous materials. Editor.
Owners of the Michigan Disposal Waste Treatment Plant and landfill in Van Buren Township are seeking to expand the hazardous waste storage and treatment capacities, conduct treatment outside of treatment tanks, and add two new waste streams for the treatment of dioxins, a known cancer-causing agent. The company is also seeking a permit to accept waste containing sulfides, another highly toxic element, which, if inhaled causes respiratory problems and death.
The facility, already the largest hazardous waste treatment operation by volume in the country, is seeking a permit to accept the deadly chemicals for disposal.
The chemicals would be treated and stabilized and then disposed of at a landfill, usually Wayne Disposal also owned by U.S. Ecology.
The facility also processes and disposes of low-level radioactive waste from oil and natural gas fracking operations. U.S. Ecology purchased the landfill operation from Michigan Disposal in 2014.
Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system and can interfere with human hormones, according to a statement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Dioxins are usually created as by-products of industrial processes.
“Dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD) is one of the most toxic man-made chemicals known,” according to an EPA document. One part per billion of dioxin in soil is considered a health concern in residential areas according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a statement, officials from U.S. Ecology said, “Michigan Disposal is equipped to responsibly accept and manage this waste.”
The request to treat sulfide-bearing waste is also being considered by the DEQ. Sulfide gas has the potential to generate hydrogen sulfide gas, which, if inhaled, “can quickly lead to death,” according to the application from U.S. Ecology. The proposal to treat the waste outside treatment tanks was described in the application as “safer and more efficient” and it is “a common and safe technique.”
State Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton) is among the local officials and residents opposed to the expansion of the permit to treat the hazardous waste.
“This issue of storing hazardous waste in our community impacts our personal, environmental and economic health. It is incredibly important that members of the public weigh in and express their concerns. In response to US Ecology accepting out-of-state fracking waste that two other states rejected, I have introduced House Bill 4804 to limit the amount of radioactive waste that can be stored in Michigan landfills,” Kristy said in a prepared statement.
“In light of the recent request from US Ecology to expand its storage and treatment facility, I am reviewing if further legislative action is needed to protect our communities from hazardous waste,” Pagan said.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Waste Management and Radiological Protection Division, will accept public comments regarding the request from US Ecology until Feb. 18.
Public comments should be directed to Kimberly Tyson of the DEQ by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail to Kimberly M. Tyson, Hazardous Waste Section, WMRPD, MDEQ, P.O. Box 30241, Lansing, 48909-7741.