Related Articles

Schupan & Sons CEO on the Pride and Profitability of Being Green

"We're all on this planet together, and if you do the right things you hope it has a multiplier effect," says Schupan. "I have children, and I want them to be proud of how we operate and handle our business. Our employees want to be proud of the values of their employer."

More Plastic Bottles in Our Landfills? Ford Has a Better Idea - Carpeting

"At this rate, twenty or thirty years from now we can reduce our carbon foot print dramatically," says Sinclair. "By using a lot of renewable and recycled products, we can make sure that we don't have much of our product going into the scrap yard at the end of the vehicle's life."

Catastrophic coal ash releases serve as a backdrop to regulatory battle

The United States generates millions of tons of coal ash, mostly related to the combustion of coal to generate energy. The ash is stored in landfills or open impoundments that are not currently regulated under federal laws governing solid and hazardous wastes. Despite high profile releases of tons of coal ash, EPA regulation is still not a certainty.

Crippen Dealership: Driving a green initiative for dealerships

"Greening our dealership was the right thing to do - not only for sales, but also for the environment."

Oakland University student Alex Kozlowski is recycling for a better future

"Throughout the course of human history we've had three revolutions: agricultural, industrial, technological and the inevitable fourth one will be the sustainability revolution," says Kozlowski. "It's just a matter of time and we need to make it happen if we want to survive on this planet.

EPA and DEQ seek public comment on reopening Romulus industrial waste injection wells

"If you've heard this story before, don't stop me, because I'd like to hear it again." - Groucho Marx

On March 31, 2011, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a public notice concerning the issuance of new licenses for the former Environmental Disposal Systems (EDS) hazardous waste injection wells in Romulus, Michigan.  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) proposes issuing air and water permits and its public hearing and comment period will be conducted concurrently with the EPA public hearing and public comment period.  A Detroit-based company, Environmental Geo-Technologies LLC (EGT), will be operating the two wells in the event EPA and DEQ issue the draft permits.  There will be a public hearing On May 17 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Romulus and EPA and DEQ will accept public coments until June 29. 

These particular wells have a long and storied history, punctuated by public protests and litigation.  EDS first proposed creating the wells to use to dispose hazardous and non-hazardous industrial wastes in 1990.    While EDS obtained approval to construct the wells from both EPA and the then-Department of Natural Resources, local opposition continued to the point where the City of Romulus filed suit to enjoin the construction and use of the wells.  The wells operated for approximately 10 months from 2005 through 2006, until the Department of Environmental Quality closed the facility after finding leaks in aboveground activities associated with the wells' operation.

An underground injection well for industrial wastes is a very rare thing.  The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) imposes a ban on the placement of such wastes on or into land, absent very specific circumstances, known as the "land ban".  One such exception is the disposal of such wastes using injection wells.  EPA regulations require a demonstration that the use of injection wells will ensure that the injected wastes will stay within the injection zone and will not impair drinking water or otherwise harm public health.

If EPA and MDEQ issue the necessary permits, the old EDS wells will be in use again for the disposal of hazardous and non-hazardous industrial wastes.  According to the draft permits, the operator will be able to dispose of the following types of wastes: diluted acid waste waters, such as used in metal cleaning and steel pickling operations, which would have a low pH and possibly an elevated level of heavy metals, such as chromium, cadmium, lead; landfill leachates from either municipal or hazardous waste landfills; and solvent-water mixtures containing less than ten percent solvents (e.g., tetrachloroethylene, trichloroethylene, methylene chloride, xylene, acetone, methanol, and carbon tetrachloride).  Whether this new operator will face the same type of opposition as EDS did remains to be seen.

The author, Saulius Mikalonis, is an environmental attorney with over 25 years of experience in the Bloomfield Hills offices of Plunkett Cooney.  He is also the author of The Green Blawg, in which he writes about environmental law issues for the non-lawyer.  In addition to practicing law, Mr. Mikalonis is an adjunct professor at the Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Auburn Hills Campus, at which he teaches a course entitled "Sustainable Development Law & Policy" and a Board Member of the Detroit Regional Chapter of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC).


Add a comment: