Michigan Activists Demand MDEQ Protect Health from US Ecology Inc
DETROIT – Activists from Flint, Southfield and Detroit joined together in a call for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to make health a priority above appeasing corporate polluters. The groups including Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and the Coalition to Stop the Expansion of US Ecology gathered Thursday afternoon with signs and banners in front of Cadillac Place, which houses the MDEQ offices. The Coalition is a group of Detroit eastside families working to prevent the ten-fold expansion of a waste treatment facility that would dump millions of gallons of hazardous waste into the water system. Unfortunately, this would not be the first endangerment of a water system facilitated by MDEQ.
“The Michigan Department of Environmental Health was supposed to act as a safeguard against the poisoning of my family and others in Flint. Instead, they were enablers of disregarding public health and that means they must fundamentally change the way they operate on our behalf,” said Nayyirah Shariff of the Flint Democracy Defense League. “The Governor and the Emergency Manager’s bottom line, money-driven mentality permeated the MDEQ and, as a result, our families suffered and continue to suffer. We grade them failing when it comes protecting our health.”
Activists created a poster-sized “report card” that listed some of cases where MDEQ has and continues to put profit above human health.
“The report card shows the string of MDEQ failures across a pretty wide chunk of Michigan,” said Rashida Tlaib of Sugar Law Center. “It’s hard to imagine oil drills in Southfield or allowing Marathon Oil to add more poison to the air in my neighborhood in Southwest Detroit when there’s already more sulfur dioxide in the air than there’s supposed to be. How can people on the east side reclaim their neighborhood with a giant waste facility, one that will endanger the health of countless families in Southeast Michigan by dumping hazardous waste into the water system? Each one of these cases involves private companies abusing public health to make money. It seems like MDEQ has learned nothing from the Flint water crisis.”
Also published on Medium.