ROMULUS, Mich. (AP) - A company seeking to operate the state's first liquid hazardous waste well has overcome its final hurdle to open along I-94 about a half mile from Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced Monday that it will grant Environmental Disposal Systems of Birmingham an operating license on today, ending a 15-year battle between the company and environmentalists. The company will operate the disposal site, where sludge and other industrial waste is to be pumped 4,500 feet below ground. The company said the site's two wells and a storage treatment facility will be safely and scientifically operated.
"There is no need for this type of facility, and once it's here we will have to worry about what it will do to our health, what it's going to do to our property values, what it's going to do the environment and when the first spill or accident ... is going to happen," R.P. Lilly of New Boston, who heads Romulus Environmentalists Care About People, told the Detroit Free Press on Monday.
The plant, on 15 acres at Citrin Drive near Inkster Road and I-94, will treat up to 400,000 gallons of hazardous liquid waste per day. It is licensed to store up to 11,000 gallons of hazardous waste in drum containers, up to 92,000 gallons in rail tanker cars and up to 267,900 gallons in tanks. The waste is classified as hazardous because it contains corrosive acids or toxic contaminants such as heavy metals and chemicals. It will be treated above the ground to reduce the contaminants before it's injected into a layer of spongelike rock about 4,500 feet below the surface.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates the underground portion of the site. The agency approved the wells and has said the waste will stay confined to a layer of rock deep underground and will not threaten human health or the environment.
But residents in Romulus and neighboring communities, environmentalists and politicians - including Gov. Jennifer Granholm - have expressed concerns. Among them are fears of groundwater contamination, toxins entering the soil, fire, spills and explosions. The state DEQ said there has been no proof that such wells are dangerous.
"Our first choice would have been to adhere to the wishes of the communities of Romulus and Taylor but because of state and federal law and actions by previous administrations, the DEQ must issue an operating license," DEQ Director Steven Chester said in a statement released Monday. In other words "it's not my fault some other dickhead is fucking you." DEQ spokesman Robert McCann said the agency plans to regularly monitor the site and to make sure Environmental Disposal Systems adheres to various conditions.