Mitchell Sends Whitmer Letter on Proposed Metamora Gravel Mine
WASHINGTON – Yesterday afternoon, Congressman Paul Mitchell (MI-10) sent the letter below to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer regarding a proposed gravel mine on the D Bar A Boy Scout property in Metamora, which is adjacent to the Metamora Landfill Superfund site.
“Dear Governor Whitmer,
I write to express serious concerns about a proposed gravel mine on the D Bar A Boy Scout property in Metamora. This property is adjacent to the Metamora Landfill Superfund site (“site”) and the impacts this project could have on the local community and groundwater are severe.
This issue was initially brought to my attention by my constituents and local stakeholders. At issue is the status of monitoring wells that track the extent and movement of contaminated groundwater emanating from the site, which is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Through multiple discussions and letters expressing these concerns to the EPA, I learned that the responsible parties had not fully complied with a July 2015 order to expand the monitoring wells around the landfill. It is troubling there is not yet a complete monitoring well network in place, especially when there is a proposed development nearby that is likely to heavily use groundwater.
On July 16, 2019, after receiving my letters and listening to community concerns, the EPA directed the responsible parties to further revise the Investigation Work Plan to require a more comprehensive strategy to determine the extent of contamination from the landfill and where it is going. That work is still in progress.
The EPA continues to address the contamination emanating from the federally regulated site. As they do so, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) must ensure they strictly monitor and study any proposed projects – such as the one at the D Bar A Boy Scout property – thoroughly and impartially. The EPA notes in their letter that EGLE would be the primary agency responsible for oversight of large quantity water withdrawals related to mining projects. The EPA has pledged to communicate with EGLE directly about the site, but I also encourage your office to be receptive to our constituents’ concerns about the proposed mine and its impacts.
In addition to environmental issues related to the Superfund site, I also want to note my concern and dismay about the influence state-level lobbyists have exerted over state agencies on matters related to gravel mines. As you are surely aware, proponents of opening additional gravel mines in the state through preemption of local control are using a study produced by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to advance their position. While there is a case to be made for gravel mine development at a general level, any related decisions should be made objectively, openly, and fairly, with feedback and input from all involved parties.
That does not seem to be the case with the study in question. Recent media reports revealed evidence that gravel industry lobbyists made substantial and substantive efforts to direct the MDOT staff working on that taxpayer funded study toward the preferred conclusion of mining proponents. The new MDOT Director Paul Ajegba – whom you appointed – rightfully called for an audit of the contracting practices used for that study.
As you work to meet the state’s infrastructure needs, I encourage your administration to maintain the principles of local control, impartial governance, and sound science. I look forward to working with your office, EGLE, and other state and federal agencies to ensure that any developments around the Metamora Landfill Superfund site do not endanger human health or pollute our groundwater.
For ease of reference, enclosed please find my correspondence to and from the EPA. I encourage you and your Administration to review these materials and listen to all feedback on this issue. Thank you for your attention to this pressing matter.
Member of Congress”