Senator Hopgood and Representative Pagan Introduce Legislation to Protect Citizens from Out of State Radioactive Fracking Waste

Thursday, April 16, 2015

LANSING — Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor) and Representative Kristy Pagan (D-Canton) have introduced legislation today to set a limit on the amount of radioactive waste from hydraulic fracturing operations that could be accepted into Michigan landfills. Under Senate Bill 277 and House Bill 4469, such waste would be restricted to the amount of 50 picocuries per gram and reduce annual amounts accepted at any facility. These requirements are nationally recognized as uniform safety measures for limiting radiation exposure associated with this type of waste.

“This legislation is crucial for protecting the health and well-being of our citizens,” Hopgood said. “As long as waste from hydraulic fracturing operations is allowed in our landfills, we need to make sure it does not exceed this nationally recognized level of safety. Our bills would simply take what is already widely established as a nationally safe exposure level and put it into statute so that companies looking to dump dangerous waste in our backyards cannot bend the rules and endanger the health of Michiganders.”

News reports last year revealed that Wayne Disposal landfill, located between Willow Run Airport and I-94 near Belleville, was set to accept radioactive waste that had been collected by a hydraulic fracturing operation in Pennsylvania. The facility had submitted an application for an exemption to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), seeking to raise the level of acceptable radiation exposure to 500 picocuries per gram. Currently, other states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are tightening regulations on how this hazardous material is stored and disposed of, and Michigan is now becoming the final destination for this type of radioactive sludge. SB 277 and HB 4469 would set a maximum limit of 50 picocuries into statute to prevent such exemptions from occurring in the future and would require that this waste be tested at the facility and reported to the DEQ.

“Based on the outcry of public concern last summer over radioactive fracking waste going into Michigan soil, it is clear that legislation is needed to establish safe and reasonable standards,” Pagan said. “We should not put our natural resources or our residents at risk by allowing highly radioactive material to go in the ground. This legislation will help enforce safer policies for fracking waste storage in order to keep our communities safe.”

Hopgood and Pagan’s legislation is especially timely as the DEQ will give a presentation on April 21 regarding the disposal of radioactive fracking waste at Wayne County disposal facilities. The presentation will be held as part of the Van Buren Township Board meeting on Tuesday, April 21, at 7 p.m. at 46425 Tyler Road in Belleville. DEQ staff and members of the Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM) Disposal Advisory Panel will give a presentation summarizing the panel’s recommendations. Local residents are encouraged to attend.