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Keep your trash: Mich. Congressman wants garbage deal review
Mike Trickey
The Windsor Star

A Michigan congressman says Canada is turning his state into a garbage dump and he is demanding a review that could result in a ban on shipping municipal solid waste across the border.

John Dingell says Canada has failed to notify the Environmental Protection Agency about impending shipments of municipal waste, mostly from Toronto, into the U.S. and accuses the U.S. of wilfully looking the other way.

"Unfortunately, it appears that our own government doesn't care if Michiganders are literally buried by unwanted, imported trash," Dingell said Monday.

Dingell says that according to a 1992 amendment to a bilateral agreement on the transboundary movement of hazardous waste, Canada is obligated to give 30-days notice of individual shipments or a series of shipments of municipal waste into the U.S.

"To date, the EPA has never been notified or questioned Canada's failure to contact them," said the Democratic congressmen, adding that Canada has "total disregard" of its obligations.

"It is outrageous that any administration would take the time to enter into a notification agreement on imported waste and then, over 10 years, never even bother to see that it's implemented."

He said Canada is sending 4.4 million cubic metres of municipal solid waste annually to Michigan, an increase of 152 per cent over the past years, an amount representing almost half the out-of-state waste dumped at Michigan landfills.

"As if Michigan isn't the recipient of enough trash, the city of Toronto recently made a decision to use our state as the dumping ground for all of its city trash," he said. "Apparently their land, which is plentiful, is too precious for their own waste. It's past time for them to learn to deal with their own messes."

Dingell has asked a U.S. House subcommittee to investigate whether it has the authority to ban foreign imports.

"The thousands upon thousands of truckloads of Canadian waste received each year deliver much more to Michigan than garbage," said Dingell. "Each and every truck adds to our already congested highways, spurs new concerns over traffic safety, pollutes our air and eats up our energy, not to mention our roads."

Dingell has sent a letter to EPA chief Christine Whitman, calling on her to take "immediate and forceful action" to ensure compliance with the 1992 agreement.

"Ten years of neglect and non-compliance with this important bilateral agreement is outrageous," he wrote. "I call upon you to act immediately in the best interest of the citizens of Michigan and withhold consent for Canadian municipal sold waste unless the affected local governments and the governor approve."

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