The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

In Michigan, DEQ means "Destroying Environmental Quality"

Feb 5, 2001

A state approved plan to dump hazardous waste in Romulus, Michigan, a working class community near Detroit, is moving full-speed ahead. Environmental Disposal Systems wants to construct two deep wells, into which it will pump millions of gallons of chemical waste considered too hazardous to dump near the surface.

Up in arms about the proposals, many residents of Romulus have attempted to force a cancellation of the project. They fear that the Romulus wells will leak this hazardous industrial waste into the ground water which serves their area. And they point to a similar system near Winona Texas which had to shut down because so much of its hazardous waste had leaked into the public water system.

In January, Romulus residents poured into a state public hearing organized by the state's DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) to protest the project.

According to DEQ Director Russ Harding, they shouldn't have bothered.

He had already overruled the findings issued last autumn by the DEQ's Site Review Board, which found the wells potentially dangerous. The Site Review Board is charged with looking into each proposal, advising the director on its merits and dangers. Ordinarily the board leans in favor of business, so its vote against the Romulus wells was particularly significant.

Harding also told members of the Romulus City Council that he was going to approve the project, no matter what the board found and no matter what the public said in the hearings.

What else can the residents of Romulus do, now that they've exhausted all the legal possibilities? A great many things, starting with demonstrating their unwillingness to accept the project –and asking other people around the state who find themselves in the same position to join them.