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E-M:/ latest clean corporate citizen applicant has checkered past



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Enviro-Mich message from Dave Dempsey <davemec@voyager.net>
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The latest applicant for special breaks under the state DEQ's so-called
Clean Corporate Citizen program "throughout the 80s and 90s...has failed to
undertake comprehensive investigations and remedial actions" of its
extensive groundwater contamination, according to DEQ records.

DEQ Director Russell Harding has until March 11 to decide whether Wacker
Silicones of Adrian is deserving of the special C3 status, which entitles
it to faster processing of air permits.  DEQ has proposed expanding breaks
in the program to include reduced monitoring and reporting of water
pollutant discharges and reduced inspections, a move which environmental
groups opposed in a hearing last month.

Recent testing shows elevated levels of tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene,
vinyl chloride and several other chemicals in groundwater under the
facility.  The flow of groundwater at the site may be resulting in
discharges of the chemicals into the Raisin River.

Despite applying to be a Clean Corporate Citizen, Wacker Silicones has
dragged its feet in complying with repeated DEQ requests for a study and
remedial action plan of contamination that was identified in February 1980,
according to DEQ records uncovered by a Freedom of Information Act request.
  It is arguable that the company is in violation of 1995 amendments to
"Part 201," the state cleanup statute, which requires parties to diligently
pursue actions to contain or clean up contamination on site.

DEQ's Environmental Response Division has yet to take a formal position on
the company's request, but a memo from district offices says the company is
not in violation of the weak C3 criteria promulgated in rules.  However,
the memo notes:

*  The then-DNR issued a notice of violation to the company in February
1980 for unauthorized surface and groundwater discharges of TCA;

*  DNR staff determined a cap over a "black pond" area of contamination was
inadequate in 1985 but "no actions resulted to the best of our knowledge"
after a request for correction was communicated to the company;

*  In 1995 DEQ requested an update on the investigation and cleanup of the
site, but none was ever received;

*  In November 1998, DEQ notified the company of its obligations as a
liable party under Part 201, finally prompting an initial response from the
company.  "The upcoming six to twelve months will provide our next
opportunity to clearly judge Wacker's compliance with their Part 201
obligations," according to an internal memo.

The Surface Water Quality Division of DEQ also notes the company has has
recent violations of its discharge permit, but these are not severe enough
for it to recommend denial of the C3 application.

MEC has written DEQ Director Harding to urge him not to grant Clean
Corporate Citizen status to a company that has refused to meet its
responsibilities to address groundwater contamination.


Dave Dempsey
Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
davemec@voyager.net
http://www.mienv.org

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