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April 12, 1983 - Image 4

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1983-04-12

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OPINION

I

a-

Page 4

Tuesday, April 12, 1983

The Michigan Daily

PIRGIM' s bid to clean toxic dumps

*I

By Todd Ambs
The members of the Public Interest Resear-
ch Group in Michigan (PIRGIM), were cer-
tainly pleased to see the Michigan Daily's
recent article on the Spiegeberg Landfill and
Rasmussen's Dump in nearby Green Oak
Township ("Toxic Sites Cause Fear and Con-
fusion," Daily, April 5).
" Fornseveral months PIRGIM staff, student
volunteers and interns have been actively
working to aid residents near these sites. In-
0leed, many of the meetings and much of the
progress made to date by the residents in the
area has occurred because of PIRGIM 's in-
volvement.
FOR NEARLY fifteen years the state of
Michigan has failed to adequately address the
toxic waste problems at these sites. When both
the Spiegelberg Landfill and Rasmussen's
Dump were listed on the Environmental
Protection Agency's Superfund list in Decem-
ber 1982, nearby residents decided to get help.
They called PIRGIM.
PIRGIM staff and volunteers soon found an
all to familiar pattern of inaction by state and
local agencies dating back to the mid 1960s.
From 1966 to 1974, both Spiegelberg and
Rasmussen were repeatedly warnedto correct
numberous violations of face having their
dumpsites closed. However, it wasn't until 1974
that the state actually took the 'threatened ac-
tion.

regulatory responsibility, and an acute shor-
tage of money which threatens effective
cleanup efforts.
A soon-to-be-published PIRGIM research
report has highlighted the fragmented nature
of environmental protection in the state. The
Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the
Department of Argiculture (MDA), and the
Department of Public Health (DPH) are all
responsible for various facets of environmental
protection, yet none of the agencies is accoun-
table for all environmental protection efforts.
This lack of accountablility was clearly
evident at the dumpsites in Brighton. For years
residents had tried to just set up a meeting with
the DNR in order to discuss their concerns.
Finally, thanks to pressure from PIRGIM, a
meeting was set for February 25 of this year.
The 40 residents in attendance found the infor-
mation provided by the three DNR officials at
the meeting to be a helpful, although belated
start.
BUT MUCH more work must be done just to
address the problems at these two sites.
PIRGIM has fornally requested answers from
the DNR on six specific questions pertaining to
the two locations.
Still more problems occur frequently which
threaten the health and welfare of everyone
living in the area. On Friday, April 1, DNR
emergency response personnel and PIRGIM
toxic specialists were called when r4 idents

noticed that refuse was being burned at the
closed Spiegelberg site. Anxious DNR officials
responded to the call were shocked to find that
Mr. Spiegelberg had been issued a burning
permit by the Green Oak Township gover-
nment.
It is little wonder that this kind of confusion
and lack of communications has left many
Michigan residents skeptical about the ability
of the state agencies to adequately monitor
toxic waste problems.
As a result of this public perception, PIRGIM
interns have begun researching alternatives
for consolidation of the state environmental
protection wing into one agency. PIRGIM'
volunteers are also mapping out aquifers,
producing helpful pamphlets on toxics, and
pinpointing potentially dangerous dump sites
throughout southeast Michigan.
Clearly, much more needs to be accom-
plished. PIRGIM's continued involvement in
Michigan's toxic waste problem is a vital
example of how students can gain a practical
educational experience which benefits every.
student and the community at large.

Doily rhoto by DOUG McMAHON
Brighton's toxic dumps: PIRGIM fights bureaucracy.

THIS EXAMPLE serves to highlight the
problem of a lack of accountability in the state
enforcement agencies. Indeed, the problems
and frustrations facing the residents living
near these sites are hardly unique. The toxic

waste problem in this state in enormous and
research by PIRGIM has uncovered a con-
sistent pattern of little or no monitoring of
dumpsites, a lack of accountability within the
state agencies empowered with toxic waste

0

Ambs is afield director for PIRGIM.

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Vol. XCIII, No. 152

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Keep on trucking

A PORTION of the compromise the
federal government struck with
the trucking industry to win its support
for the five-cent gas tax increase may
come back to haunt the nation's
decaying highway system if steps are
not taken to rectify the problem.
The gas tax legislation approved
earlier this year included a provision
to allow tandem-trailer trucks the
right-of-way on more than 180,000
miles of highway with little regard for
the huge damage the trucks inflict
on roads. Members of several state
governments whose roads are included
in the legislation complain that the 75-
foot, 40-ton trucks also are a menace to
public safety.
The trucks are indeed a menace. The
strain of the tandem arrangement
makes the extra-big big rigs more
susceptible to brake failure, making

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them a substantial threat to other
highway users.
The weight of the trucks also ac-
celerates the rapid decay of the
nation's highway system. It is a sad
irony that the same officials who have
been lamenting the fate of the nation's
crumbling infrastructure would allow
this dangerous measure to become a
part of a vital piece of legislation.
Those states which are willing to
protest the federal statute are, for-
tunately, publicizing the dangers the
trucks pose. The court battles that are
expected to follow in upcoming months
will be an interesting test of state ver-
sus federal power.
That struggle, however, is not the
crucial issue. The crucial issue is the
fight to keep destruction and danger
from such a large chunk of the nation's
highways.

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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:

Medical school too quick on draft law

REMEMBER THAT TALK ABOUT EETTING Th1E
FEPERAL GOVYERNMENT OFF OUR SAVKS?
sVERLoN
~TA~hL~4S i

To the Daily:
The medical school has
distributed forms used to certify
that students are registered with
draft boards, in the event that the
law requiring them stands after a
court challenge. It disturbs me
that the medical school has been
so quick to comply with a law that
has such serious legal questions
that a federal court has blocked it
with an injunction.
More distressing, however, are
the medical ethical problems. In
the event of a draft, I will be
asked to use my medical
knowledge primarily to increase
the killing capacity of an army. I
still believe what I told my inter-

viewer when I entered Inteflex:
my purpose will be to save lives
and help the sick. To not per-
sonally stand against a law that
insures medical students can be
easily drafted makes a sham of
medical ethics based on life and
healing.
The mission of the Army
Medical Department, according
to its manual, is "to conserve the
fighting strength of the Army"
with emphasis on the "early
return of patients to duty." My
mission is to better the lives of all
human beings, regardless of their
political ideology. It is my deeply
held belief that war and killing
are wrong, and this is one reason

I chose medicine, its opposite, as
a career.
I resent the attempts of Selec-
tive Service to link my medical
Toronto fan
To the Daily:
After having read David Spak's
thoughtful op-ed piece
("Petitioning the other side of the
story," Daily, April 8) asserting
the Daily's policy of admitting to
its mistakes in print and its ob-
jection to invidious reporting I
turned to the sports page and
read Jeff Bergida's column on
the American League Eastern
Division ("A.L. East: Yankees to
bounce back...Tiger fans, c'mon
be serious," April 8).
Obviously, the editorial and
sports staffs have different jour-
nalistic standards. Mr. Bergida
states, "It's tough to analyze
Toronto Blue Jay fans because
there aren't any. People in
Canada are kind of primitive and

education with the death of fellow
human beings. The law is not only
unjust, it's immoral.
- Robert M. Levine
April 8

sings

the blues

don't realize that the Blue Jays
have come a long way..." I have
been to Toronto's Exhibition
Stadium and I can say with ut-
most certainty that there are
many Blue Jay fans who are:
proud of their team and my.'
travels to Canada and association
with many people of Canadian
birth have suggested that they
are not less civilized than
Americans.
If Mr. Bergida meant to be fun-
ny, he failed. His sophomoric and
bigoted humor has no place in
any newspaper and I hope that
the sports editorial staff will be
more discerning about the
quality of thought that appears on
the sports pages.

Research not aimed to kill

To the Daily:
This letter is in response to
Roger Kerson ("Freedom and
responsibility at the 'U'," Daily,
April 5). Because you are the
research coordinator for MSA
you should have more knowledge
about military research than the
average person involved with the
University. However, your
dramatic example of the for-
mulation of an advanced weapon
and the lumping together of all
military research is very near-
sighted. It is obvious you have
never read the Reporter which
monthly lists research projects

stated that the University has
prohibited classified weapons
research for over 14 years and
this ban now covers non-
classified research as well. With
this restriction, how can our
research kill people?
Another of your points which
separates research from the
rest of the article is who pays.
While it is true tax dollars pay for
research, I should think you
would be happy that some of your
dollars are returning to you and
your university. Without these
grants for research the prestige
and fine reputation of this univer-

- Todd Miller
April 8

wi

Protect right to heckle

To the Daily:
The Michigan Daily editorial of
March 31 ("Heckling free
speech") accuses hecklers of
trying to silence Jeane Kirk-
patrick. But has she been silen-

The First Amendment states
that Congress shall make no law
abridging freedom of speech.
This law was written to protect
the right of minorities to dissent z
against the government. It was:-

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