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US Ecology is the largest processor of hazardous waste in the United States. They truck, treat, store and dispose of radioactive, chemical, and hazardous waste products.
The U.S. Ecology plant sits in a neighborhood on Detroit’s east side, very close to Hamtramck. They have requested a permit to increase by 10 times the amount of hazardous waste that they treat, store, and then dump into the Detroit City sewer. They have locations in at least 23 states. A quick review from their websites yields a map to locate their facilities in every state where they have operations. These maps show that almost all of their facilities are located three to five miles or more from the major population center. Only in Detroit does it appear they are processing in the middle of a population center. It is estimated there are at least 10,000 people living within one mile of the U.S. Ecology, Detroit North facility.
Trucks come everyday from around the Midwest with toxic waste that other dumps won’t accept, including loads with mercury (3500 times EPA limit), arsenic (350 times the limit), cyanide, titanium, and over 20 hazardous chemicals. Hazards that violate common sense include:
US Ecology pumps 330,000 gallons of toxic waste every day into the Detroit Sewer system.
A trucking accident or spill could harm the drinking water source for Southeast Michigan.
They store hazardous waste in cement vaults on site in high-density populated areas.
A group of local citizens formed a group called Coalition to Oppose the Expansion of US Ecology (FB and http://coalitionstopuse.weebly.com). So far they and other groups have hosted public meetings and protests, conducted mass letter writing campaigns to the DEQ to “STOP the Poisoning of Detroit”, encouraged letter writing from elected officials including the state representative, county and city executives, and asked for Resolutions to be passed by Detroit and Hamtramck City Councils to STOP the EXPANSION.
Is anyone listening? This is corporate greed versus the health of WE the People.
Update: US Ecology, Hazardous waste plant, and Plans for Detroit Expansion
MDEQ's plans (as of Nov 2017) to approve a ten-fold expansion of toxic storage at the US Ecology plant have been delayed, with date of approval to be at the end of the calendar year. Delays in giving the plant the green light to expand have continued for over two years due to the resistance organized by residents and environmentalists.
One of the demands of the Coalition to Oppose the Expansion of US Ecology (COEUSE) was to stop processing radioactive frack waste. This demand was fought with people marching, thousands of educational fliers distributed, and residents who protested at meetings and hearings of Detroit City Council and Wayne County Commission. Finally the company gave up their license to handle radioactive waste, and the demand of the people was met.
Soil samples were taken near US Ecology grounds in July 2017. MCWC encouraged and paid for the samples to validate the demand for soil and ground water testing. MDEQ has given waivers on mandatory soil testing since 1989 and ground water testing since 2003. Lab analysis of our samples found elevated concentrations of arsenic, diesel and copper, along with many other metals in the soil. These elements increase the risk to residents for asthma, lung and heart disease, many cancers, and reduce immune function.
The scientific community proved decades ago that repeated exposure to even small amounts of toxins can cause harm, disease and death. But MDEQ continues to maintain that:
· processing of hazardous waste in the middle of a population center is safe
· it is not the MDEQ's job to monitor the cumulative effects of toxins and
· we "do not have solid scientific data on cumulative impact of toxins."
The fight continues against the polluters in Detroit and we thank Board Member, Diane Weckerle for her work with COEUSE and involving MCWC in this fight to protect the health, safety and welfare of Detroit citizens.
MCWC renews its call for extensive soil testing in and around the US Ecology by calling for an evaluation of any of the residences between the US Ecology facility and the sanitary water treatment plant.
MCWC will continue to oppose the granting of the permit to expand.
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