Powell may intervene in well project
asks official to see if toxic waste wells violate treaties
The Detroit News
ROMULUS -- The fight over construction
of toxic injection wells in Romulus isn't over just yet.
Opponents of the underground project
are told that a top federal official may investigate whether
pumping millions of gallons of hazardous waste a mile
underground violates environmental treaties between the
United States and Canada.
U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn,
is asking U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to intervene
in the well project, saying hazardous wells built close
to Lake Erie could be unsafe. Powell would become the
arbitrator in a dispute between the two North American
Possible leakage of waste injected a
mile underground "would place the entire ecosystem" at
great risk, Dingell said.
Dingell also told opponents gathered
at an Earth Day rally Monday that possible irregularities
occurred during the state and federal permit process to
build the two hazardous wells, an assertion the Birmingham
well developers have long said is preposterous.
For over a decade, Environmental Disposal
Systems had rightfully obtained more than a dozen environmental
and construction permits to build the two wells, company
President Douglas Wicklund said.
EDS would become the first company in
Michigan to inject liquid toxins underground, should a
final permit be granted. EDS has dug the two wells near
Interstate 94 and must show the EPA that the wells are
safe. Wicklund was unavailable for comment on Monday.
A possible federal investigation into
how the construction permits were granted could stall
or stop the project altogether, Dingell said.
"The history (of this) situation has
been very bad," he said.
The well issue in Romulus has turned
a community largely known for its sprawling metropolitan
airport into a battlefield over civic and property rights.
When EDS first proposed building a single
injection well in the city in 1989, much of Romulus welcomed
the developers with open arms. Romulus would share in
the projected million-dollar bounty by accepting part
of the fees for flushing liquid industrial waste down
a cement tube nearly 4,000 feet underground.
But opposition to the project swelled.
Romulus and its municipal neighbor, Taylor, sued EDS in
the mid 1990s over jurisdictional rights to injecting
hazardous waste. The two cities and EDS again square off
in court this summer.
Romulus and Taylor "are standing up
and saying no" to the well developers, said Patricia Lentz,
a longtime well opponent. "We'd like to leave the earth
in as good of shape as when we got it."
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