Republic Services seeks approval from EPA to build two injection wells at Michigan landfill

Republic Services seeks approval from EPA to build two injection wells at Michigan landfill

Republic plans to inject non-hazardous leachate underneath a shrinking aquifer that is tapped for drinking water in West Michigan.

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Phoenix-based Republic Services is seeking approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to build two injection wells at its Ottowa Farms Landfill in West Michigan, reports MLive.com.

The injection wells would force leachate 4,490-feet down into subsurface rock formations beneath groundwater that’s used for local drinking supply. The EPA has drafted permits and is taking public comment until Jan. 27.

According to MLive.com, Republic Services is seeking Class 1 well permits, which would allow injection of “non-hazardous” leachate from the landfill at 15550 68th Street in Ottawa County’s Polkton Township.

The application also requires approval from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), which says it received the application in September and expects to hold a separate public review and possibly a joint online meeting with the EPA “should it receive significant public interest” in the Republic Services proposal.

The EPA requires injection wells to be operated at a certain pressure to prevent fluid from spurting back up the well casing, potentially contaminating groundwater at higher levels.

According to the EPA, the lowermost source of drinking water beneath Ottawa Farms rests at 470 underground in the Marshall Formation, a shrinking glacial aquifer that’s been the focus of study because of rising salinity levels due to increased use and lack of surface water recharge.

Nick Assendelft, spokesperson for EGLE, told MLive.com there are dozens of similar wells that already inject industrial and municipal waste underground in Michigan.

“Some of these wells have a commercial disposal designation and have handled landfill leachate for many years,” Assendelft said. “There has been more recent interest for siting these wells on landfill property for the direct disposal of leachate.”

Assendelft said EGLE has issued two permits since 2018 for leachate injection at landfills and is also currently reviewing a similar application from Republic Services to build two leachate injection wells at its Carleton Farms Landfill in Wayne County near New Boston.