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Red Run landfills Freedom Hill

Publication: Macomb Daily; Date:2005 Oct 05;
$11 million deal crafted to make old landfills safe
SMDA agrees with state to help clean up Sterling Heights sites.
By Jameson Cook Macomb Daily Staff Writer

Two old Sterling Heights landfills that haven’t been functioning for decades will be
contained and made safe as part of a settlement between the state attorney general and
the South Macomb Disposal Authority and other entities.
Insurance companies for the SMDA and the authority’s reserve fund will pay more
than 90 percent of the $11.7 million cost to pay for past and future cleanup at old
landfills at Freedom Hill County Park and athletic fields off Utica Road,
said SMDA Director Ted Wahby.

“The SMDA and its communities didn’t get hurt big by this, and this should take care
of those sites for good,” Wahby said. The consent decree reached Aug. 29 between
the state attorney general and Department of Environmental Quality, and the SMDA
and other entities ends an 11-year dispute over the landfills.

“This settlement provides a thorough cleanup of the sites and assures residents that
their health will not be put at risk,” DEQ Director Steven Chester says in a written
statement. “Landfill operators must be aware of the environmental impact their
operations can have on nearby communities.”

Of the settlement, $1.7 million has been spent and an estimated $10 million will be
doled out to hire a company to perform additional cleanup over the next “couple of
years,” DEQ spokesman Robert McCann said.

McCann said a big concern at the sites has been the buildup of lethal methane gas in
the landfills, so vents will be installed to release the dangerous element and enhance
corrective action already taken. Several years ago two east Oakland County homes
exploded after methane gas traveled underground from a landfill to adjacent

The cleanup plan will also include a cap and a leachate collection and treatment
system to address liquid leaching from waste in the landfill.

Besides the SMDA, several other entities will contribute $858,000 of the total bill, less
than 10 percent — the city of Sterling Heights, Macomb County, the Huron Clinton
Metropark Authority, MichCon, a funeral home and the Archdioceses of Detroit, all of
which had interest in the properties at one time.

The SMDA, a consortium of the communities of Warren, Roseville, St. Clair Shores and
Center Line, constructed and operated the landfills in the 1960s. The landfills, located
along the Red Run Drain, have been closed for 40 years
. SMDA still operates a transfer

The site at 15000 Metropolitan Parkway, known as Freedom Hill Park and Dollier –
, was licensed by the state as a type II landfill, accepting items such as solid
household, commercial or industrial trash, both organic and inorganic, and could contain
construction and industrial waste, according to the DEQ.

The second landfill, located off Utica Road north of 15 Mile Road is also known as the
Fostoria Property or Bishop Gallagher Athletic Fields. It was not licensed by the state but
may have had a county or local license, according to the DEQ. It accepted the same
$11 million deal crafted to make old landfills safe

That 55-acre site is owned by the Archdiocese, which operates athletics fields on 25
acres, spokesman Ned McGrath said. Despite the closure of Bishop Gallagher High
School and its later school, Trinity, the fields are still used by Catholic schools.
“We’ve entertained offers” to sell the property but no deals have been reached,
McGrath said. The Archdiocese contributed $90,000 to the settlement.

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