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steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report says the state of Michigan has a lot to do to reduce the risk of future dam failures.

Last May, heavy rains contributed to the failure of two dams in Gladwin and Midland counties.  The dam failures contributed to a 500-year flood event which caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.  More than 10,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes.   The area is still recovering.

The Detroit incinerator
tEdGuY49 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The State of Michigan has revoked the permits to operate the Detroit trash incinerator.

For decades, neighbors complained about the odors coming from the site in Detroit. The trash incinerator had been cited many times before the company shut down the incinerator almost two years ago.

Now, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and Detroit Renewable Power have agreed to a consent judgment.

“Well, it was long standing air quality violations, both some emission limit exceedances and I think, as you’re aware, a long-standing odor concern to the neighborhood in the area,” said Jason Wolf with EGLE’s Air Quality Division enforcement unit.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

It will be a few more days before a task force set up to study Michigan’s dam safety regulations will finish its final report.

The delay is because of concerns about the “tone” of the document.

The Dam Safety Task Force was created after last May’s failures of the Edenville and Sanford dams. The twin dam failures contributed to a 500-year flood event which caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. Rising floodwaters forced thousands in Midland and Gladwin counties to evacuate their homes. 

Michigan has an infrastructure problem with raw sewage getting into streams and rivers.  

In the State of Michigan’s next fiscal year, there's about $500 million available for fixing up sewer pipes and updating wastewater plants. So far, municipalities have applied for $200 million. That’s below what is typical for this time of year. There’s no doubt about the need for sewer infrastructure repairs or replacement.

DUSTIN DWYER / MICHIGAN RADIO

Applications for shoreline protection permits tripled this year compared to last, according to Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

The department granted 2,284 permits in the year ending September 30, compared to 730 permits the previous year. Most of those permits went to residential property owners wanting to protect their homes from rising water levels.

Often those permits allow the construction of rock walls as a barricade against encroaching waves.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State regulators plan to take a little more time reviewing the permit applications for Enbridge’s proposed Line 5 tunnel project in the Straits of Mackinac.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) says it is extending its review until January 2021.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

People living near the Edenville Dam will get an update Thursday night on state plans to make repairs to a portion of the dam that didn't fail in May.

Days of heavy rain led to the Edenville dam to fail back in May. Flood waters that washed through the breach inundated communities downstream, doing tens of millions of dollars in damage.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

One chemical in the PFAS family is showing up more often and in greater concentrations in fish.

The PFAS chemical is PFOS.

EGLE

The operator of a Detroit dock site that partially collapsed into the Detroit River late last year will pay the state $60,000 in fines.

The Revere Dock, which was illegally storing limestone aggregate along the river when the site collapsed in late November, 2019, has also entered into a consent agreement with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. A sinkhole also formed on the site sometime after the collapse.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan will soon move forward with repairs to part of the remaining section of the Edenville Dam. 

The dam’s failure on May 19 contributed to a 500-year flood event that damaged thousands of homes and businesses.  

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has filed suit against a dairy farming operation she says has repeatedly “thumbed its nose” at environmental regulations.

Slater Farms is a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in rural West Michigan. According to the Attorney General’s office, it collectively owns and manages CAFOs with more than 1,500 mature dairy cows and 400 cattle. Every year, those operations produce about 8.9 million gallons of liquid waste and 1,500 tons of solid waste.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan regulators are ordering the owners of the Edenville dam to make critically needed repairs to the structure.

Michigan State University

The state of Michigan is launching a pilot effort to establish a wastewater surveillance system for COVID-19.

Yes, the novel coronavirus can be detected in human poop—even when people are asymptomatic, or have yet to show symptoms. And there are a number of pre-existing wastewater testing programs already running in Michigan.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A special task force set up to study Michigan’s dam safety rules and regulations met virtually for the first time Tuesday.

Liesl Clark is the head of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.  And she's a member of the 19-person task force.

She says the task force was formed after two dam failures in May helped create devastating floods in Midland and Gladwin counties.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office has settled a case dealing with leaky underground fuel tanks. The state will be getting $35 million to clean up the sites now owned by Premcor Refining Group, Inc.

“We entered into this settlement with the group because Premcor is the entity that is liable under state law for the releases at these sites. So, you know, we're just trying to reach a settlement if that's sound and enforceable and it's in the best interest of the public,” said Ryan Jarvi, spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Farm groups are using a two-pronged approach to stop the state from changing the rules for spreading manure. The Michigan Farm Bureau, large livestock farmers (Confined Animal Feeding Operations CAFOs), and several farm groups are suing the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). The same groups in May appealed changes to pollution permits dealing with spreading livestock manure on farm fields.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The state will spearhead an engineering study to assess the condition of the remainder of a Midland County dam that failed in May.

The Edenville dam partially collapsed after heavy rains, along with the Sanford dam, leading to major flooding in and around Midland. But part of the dam facing the Tobacco River is still intact. The question is how stable and secure it is.

US Ecology exterior
Jennifer Fassbender

Some Detroit residents and environmental justice groups have filed a civil rights complaint against the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. The complaint alleges the environment agency discriminates against people of color by approving requests for hazardous wastes sites near their communities.

Nathan Bishop

The state and the Marathon refinery in southwest Detroit have a proposed deal to resolve some alleged air violations from back in 2017.

Nick Assendelft is a spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

“Those are things for such as exceeding particulate matter and other emissions, emitting nuisance odors on multiple occasions,” said Assendelft.

The proposed Consent Order means Marathon has to fix the air quality problems, plus pay a fine.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State environmental officials say tests along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers are not showing recent floods caused dioxin and other contamination to spread.

In May, heavy rains and dam failures created a 500-year-flood in Midland County, including areas with histories of contamination from Dow Chemical.

Michigan Department of Transportation

Federal and state environmental agencies have agreed on a groundwater cleanup plan for a site in Madison Heights where a toxic green-ooze leaked onto I-696 last year.

The green ooze seeped from a former electroplating business.  

Since last December, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has collected more than a quarter million gallons of contaminated groundwater from the site.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

In the weeks since the Edenville Dam failed, and flooded Midland, the focus has been on why it failed.

But the people who live upstream from the dam also want to know when, or if, they’ll get their lake back.  

On a stormy morning last week, Robert Beltz stands on the green manicured lawn behind his beautiful two story home on Wixom Lake. The lawn extends to what used to be the water line.

“If you walk down toward the sea wall, and look down here, it looks like a desert,” Beltz said.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report confirms that the Edenville Dam didn’t meet state standards before it failed in May.

The study was conducted by the Spicer Group, a Saginaw-based engineering firm, on behalf of the Four Lakes Task Force, a local group that was in the process of buying Edenville and three other dams at the time of the disaster.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A group representing Midland and Gladwin County residents wants an independent review of the failures of two dams last month that created historic flooding.

On May 19, after days of heavy rain, Edenville Dam broke, sending torrents of water downstream. The water overwhelmed the Sanford Dam. Thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes in Midland County.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered a state investigation into why two privately owned dams failed last week in Midland County contributing to record flooding.

After the Edenville and Sanford Dams failed, thousands were forced to evacuate and many towns along the Tittabawassee River suffered extensive damage.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

If your building has been closed or only a few people have been using it, the water in the pipes should be flushed before you start up your business again.

“The chemicals that we put in the water to condition it and prevent bacteria growth or corrosion tend to dwindle and go to zero. And you pick up things like bacterial contamination and metals contamination from contact with the plumbing,” said Eric Oswald, Director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division.

a house with flood waters covering law and driveway
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

Four Midland County homeowners have filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Michigan. The lawsuit alleges the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) knew about the issues with the Edenville Dam, but did not take action.

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan regulators want more information from Enbridge about its plan to build an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy told the company in a letter this week its application is “incomplete.” Gongwer News Service reports EGLE “took issue with Enbridge currently not submitting finalized dimensions for the pipeline, such as an exact diameter.”

Back of a school bus
Pixabay

The State of Michigan is using some of the settlement money from Volkswagen’s Clean Air Act violations to subsidize new school buses. Volkswagen installed a device to fool emissions tests to show its cars polluted less than they did. 

The state received a total of nearly $65 million and more than 20% (almost $9 million) is going to replace old diesel school buses. 

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Michigan could have new PFAS rules in place as early as April. That's after the Environmental Rules Review Committee approved the proposed rules Thursday.

The committee voted to approve a set of draft rules regulating the industrial contaminants, which includes drinking water standards for seven types of PFAS.

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