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More than 3 million Americans have lost employer-based health insurance over the past two weeks; and policy analysts look to keep us healthy and financially stable.

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Wisconsin is planning to go ahead with primaries as usual, despite requests for a delay from the Governor, and lawsuits from voting rights advocates. There's also a judicial election, where a liberal judge is challenging the conservative incumbent.

Michiganders Find Solidarity in Fighting Hazardous Waste

Opponents say increasing the capacity of a toxic-waste facility puts the health of 10,000 Detroit-area residents at even greater risk. (Coalition to Oppose Expansion of U.S. Ecology)
Opponents say increasing the capacity of a toxic-waste facility puts the health of 10,000 Detroit-area residents at even greater risk. (Coalition to Oppose Expansion of U.S. Ecology)
February 12, 2020

LANSING, Mich. -- Despite losing their battle against the expansion of a toxic waste facility in Detroit, opponents of the project say they will persist. Community members and elected leaders from Detroit and Hamtramck fought for several years to prevent U.S. Ecology from increasing the amount of hazardous waste stored at its Detroit North facility by nearly nine times its current level.

State regulators recently approved the permit. But Diane Weckerle, board member with Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, said there is a silver lining. She said the community's strength and solidarity against pollution and environmental injustice have been clear.

"Arabic immigrants, Bengali immigrants, Afro-Americans, environmentalists - a very diverse community poured out into public meetings and marches on the plant," Weckerle said. "It was very exciting, the coming together of the community against more toxins coming in."

Weckerle said 45 trucks a day will now be allowed to transport mercury, arsenic, cyanide and many other hazardous chemicals to and from the plant. She contends that puts the health of roughly 10,000 people who live nearby at risk.

"The health stats are really bad," she said. "The length of time someone can live on the east side of Detroit is 62 years; the length of life of somebody in the northern part of Grand Rapids is almost 90. There's huge discrepancies in the health of the communities in Michigan, and it's really unfair."

Weckerle said there were hopes the new administration in Lansing would step up to protect community health. But she notes that - much like in Flint - the efforts of local elected leaders were largely ignored.

"There's so many issues that keep coming up all around Michigan," she said. "And so, we need to link arms and continue to fight against pollution, and continue to fight against turning the Great Lakes into a toxic waste dump."

Weckerle added opponents were able to help stop radioactive waste from being processed or stored at the facility. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said it had no reason to deny the permit. But the Detroit Free Press found U.S. Ecology has received more than 150 citations for violating Environmental Protection Agency rules and the Great Lakes Water Authority permit.

Disclosure: Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation contributes to our fund for reporting on Water. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI