When you get a speeding ticket, you don’t get 43 years to pay it. And when you contaminate a river with toxic materials — a much bigger hazard than going 45 in a 40 – you shouldn’t get 43 years to stop doing it and pay a fine.
But there’s a double standard in Michigan when it comes to toxic discharge from the BASF facility in Wyandotte. Just upstream from a public drinking water intake for the city of Wyandotte, the company has been discharging 3,000 gallons per hour of polluted groundwater into the Detroit River for decades.
It’s been 43 years since the state first ordered BASF to stop polluting the river.
The trouble is, the state has never enforced the command.
Meanwhile, a toxic stew that now includes everything from PFAS to mercury is coughed up by the old industrial site 24/7/365. Some of these chemicals are not even monitored, even though they are upstream from the drinking water intake.
Last week, at a public meeting to explain the status of the problem, well-meaning public servants from the U.S. EPA and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) told citizens that it will be another three years before BASF begins construction of what is being called the permanent remedy. This is appalling.
Every day that BASF is allowed to contaminate the river is another violation of federal and state clean water laws. According to state statute, the company is theoretically liable for penalties of $25,000 per day.
The mistakes of previous generations of state officials can’t be blamed on those in decision-making positions in 2023. But unless they – and their bosses at the top of EPA and EGLE today – take action, the degradation of the Detroit River will be the result of their failure to enforce the law. And the public will suffer.
Here’s what you can do:
- Learn more about the history and current state of the BASF Wyandotte pollution violations via this website.
- Send an email to the Michigan Attorney General (Dana Nessel (firstname.lastname@example.org) asking her to immediately enforce provisions of the state Court Order with BASF that her predecessor Frank Kelley fought for and won in U.S. District Court in 1985.
- Alert the new EGLE Director Phil Roos (email@example.com) of the urgent need for his agency to stop BASF from discharging 3,000 gallons per hour of toxic contaminated groundwater to the Great Lakes in Wyandotte, and ask the new director to take action to protect public health and the health of the Detroit River.