EPA Grants Exemption to Romulus Injection Wells

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has granted Environmental Disposal Systems (EDS) an exemption from federal restrictions on land disposal of hazardous waste for two commercial Class 1 injection wells in Romulus, Mich. EDS wants to accept liquid hazardous waste from other businesses and inject it into the wells.

Based on an extensive review of the company’s petition for exemption and other information, such as scientific data and public comments, EPA has determined that the waste will stay confined to a layer of rock deep underground and will not threaten human health or the environment. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality must still issue a hazardous waste operating license before the company can begin using the wells.

EDS has demonstrated that, to a reasonable degree of certainty, the waste will not move out of the injection zone or come into contact with an underground source of drinking water for at least 10,000 years. Scientists specializing in geology and computer modeling from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California reviewed the data and computer modeling and agreed that the demonstration meets the requirements for an exemption. The well will be continuously monitored throughout its operation.

EDS originally asked for an exemption in January 2000. EPA announced in November 2002 that it was prepared to approve the exemption. The decision-making process was extended last summer after the state of Michigan issued a permit to Sunoco Partners Marketing and Terminals LLC (SPMT) which allows it to pump brine from several geologic layers, including the layer into which EDS wants to inject waste. EPA extended its review to look at the effect of the SPMT permit on EDS’ project.

Based on the evidence in the record, EPA can reliably predict that SPMT will not extract from the same geologic formation EDS plans to use for injection. Extraction from the shallower Lockport Formation will not affect the EDS project. EPA has made the exemption conditional: it will automatically terminate if SPMT begins extracting from the injection zone.

Injecting wastes deep underground is a proven way of environmentally protective disposal. There are 163 Class 1 hazardous waste injection wells located at fifty-one facilities nationwide, twenty-four of these wells are in EPA Region 5 and seven are in Michigan.

EPA offered an extensive public comment period on this petition, reviewed several hundred comments and responded to them in summary form. EPA revised the exemption based on those comments. All those who commented will receive a copy of the response-to-comments document and it will also be available in the following libraries:

Romulus Public Library, 11121 Wayne Road; Taylor Community Library, 1203 Pardee Road; and Henry Ford Centennial Library, 16301 Michigan Ave., Dearborn.

The information is also online at: www.epa.gov/region5/water/uic/pubpdf/factsheets.pdf and www.epa.gov/region5/water/uic/pubpdf/eds_rtc.pdf

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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