Protecting Michigan communities from toxic waste dumping

Protecting Michigan communities from toxic waste dumping

The recent news that Norfolk Southern shipped contaminated soil from the train derailment disaster in East Palestine, OH, to communities in other states – Michigan and Texas – was cause for outrage, and rightfully so. Without informing leaders in either state, Ohio and Norfolk Southern shipped hazardous waste to a toxic waste injection site near Romulus and Belleville, MI.

Read Michigan LCV’s full statement here.

After the news broke nearly two weeks ago, Michigan LCV’s Executive Director Lisa Wozniak gave an interview about the shipments to Michigan and the dangers the situation poses to Michigan communities on the WILS Morning Wake-Up radio show. During the interview, Lisa spoke about the fact that officials at the Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) only learned about the shipments from a press release from Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. She also traced back to the origins of the deep injection well in Romulus, which was approved decades ago under then-Governor John Engler. 

Listen to the full interview here

In an article from The Hill, Lisa again highlighted how Michigan’s state and federal leaders were taken by surprise by the shipments of Ohio, emphasizing the importance of transparency, especially in situations where public health could be jeopardized:

First and foremost, Michigan decision makers were completely taken off guard by this plan. I have had an opportunity to speak not only to my congresswoman, Rep. Debbie Dingell, multiple times, but also to top tier officials at our state agency, EGLE, who were taken by surprise at this. So transparency and disclosure, when we’re thinking about transporting any of these kinds of chemicals whether by train across states or shipping the waste after a hazardous spill like this is absolutely essential.” 

Late last week, Lisa spoke with Congresswoman Dingell again, this time on Lisa’s monthly radio show, 1st Friday Focus on the Environment with WEMU 89.1’s David Fair. Again, Rep. Dingell said Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio officials did not inform Michigan lawmakers or officials about the shipments, which have since been halted temporarily by the EPA. When asked about the financial responsibility for remediating contaminated soil, liquid and waste, Rep. Dingell highlighted how because Michigan does not have Polluter Pay laws, taxpayers are often on the hook for the cost of clean up. Calling on state lawmakers to pass legislation that corrects this, Rep. Dingell also emphasized the need to look at how necessary the production of some of these toxic chemicals truly is. 

Listen to the full interview here

As the home to 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water, it is integral that we strengthen regulations – at local, state and federal levels – for toxic chemicals like vinyl chloride, which was identified at the site of the derailment in East Palestine, OH. In addition, we must look at phasing out these types of chemicals as much as possible to avoid future disasters and make it clear that Michigan is not a dumping ground for toxic waste.  

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